The Icelandic Adoption Model

First meeting
When families start thinking about adoption, they contact Icelandic Adoption Society and get their first interview at the office. These interviews are usually two hours long were a specialist explains all the steps in the adoption procedure, starting with the procedure in Iceland, the application procedure, the waiting time, preparation for the adoption and the adoption procedure, the first steps after the adoption and the services that the agency provides after the adoption. The family gets information about the legal framework in Iceland, the outlines of the Hague convention on protection and co-operation in respect of inter-country adoptions, the UN convention on the rights of the child, the ethical rules of EurAdopt and the ethical rules of NAC.  We think that it is essential that the family gets a good overview of what adoption is about before they take the next step.

Is adoption for me?
The next step is a preparation course that is obligatory for every applicant. The course title is “Is adoption for me?” 

The course is taught in a small country hotel, where the participants meet on Friday afternoon (17:00) and stay there and work on issues concerning the adoption until Saturday afternoon. The participants meet again after 4-5 weeks and spend a Saturday together. In the meantime they get homework that they need to present at the course. 

The preparation course is now 24 hours long of active training.

On the course questions are raised and the participants have to work on issues like; will I be able to love and accept a child whom I have not known as a baby? How much will it mean that the child does not necessarily look like me? Will I inform my family and friends about my adoption plans? How will my family and friends react to an adopted child? Will I be prepared to love to a child who has experienced violent events in its short life? How do adopted children manage compared to their contemporaries? Will I let my child know that he is adopted? How does an adopted child look upon itself, and how does it look upon me as a parent?

The application for advance approval
After the course candidates apply with the mediation of Icelandic Adoption Society. When they become applicants they meet face to face with an application specialist that makes sure the application is as it should be, and then sends it to the National Commissioner in Reykjavík, who is responsible for issuing the advance approval. 

The National Commissioner sends the application to the Child Welfare Committee in the municipality where the applicants live. 

A licensed social worker meets the applicants five times and scrutinizes every aspect of the families and gives counsel in the interviews. 

The social worker then writes a home study report that is approved by the Child Welfare Committee in a special meeting, first by the clinical team and then the appointed officials that form the committee.  

The home study report is then sent to the National Commissioner for final approval. 

While this procedure is going on the applicants have opportunity to meet with the specialists at Icelandic Adoption Society for counseling and applicants usually meet a family that has already adopted and has offered their assistance to new applicants.

Counseling about children with specific needs
Applicants who choose to apply for advance approval from the National Commissioner are offered special counseling. The applicants meet a specialist from Icelandic Adoption Society that explains the difference between the adoption process of a child with specific needs and children that are not categorized with specific needs. The applicants fill out a list containing various kind of specific needs and after that they meet a pediatrician that explains different kind of specific needs and consults the applicants in making a decision.

The list is then sent to the Child Welfare Committee and the social worker evaluates if the applicants have the skills to adopt a child with specific needs.   

The adoption application
The applicants meet a specialist from Icelandic Adoption Society that helps them decide which country to send their adoption application. In this counseling the specialist explains the finer details about application process in each country of origin and helps the applicants to select the right choice.  

The waiting time
Icelandic Adoption Society puts effort into helping applicants actively seeking knowledge during the waiting time. Every month a lecture is offered on issues related to adoptions. This year for example we have offered lectures on post-adoption depression, our work in Nordic Adoption Council and a trip the president and executive director of Icelandic Adoption Society went on with the Minister of Interior and his delegation to India in February. 

When applicants are accepted in the country of origin they attend special training, where the applicants meet at the Icelandic Adoption Society’s office and receive a course on what can happen after the adoption.

The first part is about connection between the child and the parents and what difficulties the family may face in the first period after homecoming.   

The second section is about traveling with a child, what is needed and what signs the parents need to look after on long flights in unknown surroundings. 

The third section is about the trip to the country of origin, how to prepare and what to expect on the trip of their life. How to take care of the child, what kind of nutrition a child needs and how to make sure that the hygiene in the surroundings of the child is appropriate.   

After the parents get information about their child, they meet a pediatrician and he informs them about the child´s health status and what they can expect in near future. The family meets the pediatrician again soon after they come back to Iceland, where he examines the child (the same pediatrician has examined every child that has been adopted to Iceland since 1981).

Then the family meets a family that has adopted from the country of origin (preferably the same province). In this meeting the family gets familiar with the procedure and what will happen on their trip.

Then the family meets a specialist from Icelandic Adoption Society that explains all the practicalities.

Post Adoption Services
When the family arrives in Iceland they have to apply for a social security number at the National Registry and confirmation of the adoption papers by National Commissioner on Adoption, with the help of Icelandic Adoption Society.

The family meets a pediatrician at the National Hospital for a medical check up.

A specialist makes contact by phone after the family has been at home for a week to offer help if needed and to assess if the family needs some kind of assistance. 
The family is offered interviews with a social worker or a psychologist if needed. 

The family is contacted again after the family has been at home for one month and again after three months, with the same purpose. 

Icelandic Adoption Society has family mornings every other week were the families come together at our premises and have a nice time together. The adoptive families like these family mornings and meet each other in the odd week at swimming pools or at the families residence. 

Icelandic Adoption Society employs social workers who meet the families and write the post-placement reports. If the families face some troubles we have professional team of social workers and child psychologist that are assigned to the family.