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Norway tightens controls over adoptions from abroad but won’t ban practice as investigation unfolds

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway has tightened controls over adoptions from abroad but will allow them to continue as it conducts an investigation into the legality and ethics of past adoptions, the government said Wednesday.

The move to keep allowing international adoptions for now contradicted Norway’s top regulatory body, the Norwegian Child Welfare Services, a government agency known as Bufdir, which in January recommended a pause while the investigation takes place.

“As the situation is now, I do not see the need for a general interim suspension while the investigation committee works,” Minister for Children and Families Kjersti Toppe said.

“The overall goal is to get answers to whether — and possibly to what extent — there have been illegal or unethical situations in connection with foreign adoptions to Norway,” Toppe said.

In December, the government set up an independent investigative committee to assess whether Norwegian authorities have enough control over adoptions from abroad, and whether illegal or unethical circumstances have occurred in adoptions to Norway. The committee is expected to conclude its investigation in late 2025.

The inquiry was launched after media reports in Norway pointed to alleged illegal adoptions, claiming that some children in the Philippines were sold and given false birth certificates.

The government said it had implemented ”risk-reducing measures” for adoptions from abroad, including an official review of all documents for each case transferred from adoption organizations to Bufdir. There are three adoptions agencies in Norway.

Last year, Bufdir was also tasked with reviewing agreements with different countries to ensure the legality of adoptions with each of them.

Following the reviews, agreements with Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, Madagascar, the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Peru were terminated. Only the accords with Colombia and Bulgaria have continued, while South Korea has received a limited permit, the Norwegian government said.

In neighboring Denmark, the only overseas adoption agency in January said it was winding down international adoptions after a government agency there raised concerns over falsified documents and procedures that obscured children’s biological origins abroad.

Sweden’s only adoption agency said in November that it was halting adoptions from South Korea after claims of falsified papers on the origins of children adopted from the country.

Associated Press