Sweden launched an official investigation on Wednesday and promised to address “irregularities”.
The inquiry will look at adoptions from Chile and China in particular, after reports emerged of unusual adoption processes, said Minister of Social Affairs Lena Hallengren.
“The investigator will investigate whether irregularities have occurred regarding the countries from which most adoptions took place, as well as the countries where there are strong suspicions that there have been irregularities,” Hallengren told reporters.
The survey will examine Sweden’s regulations for international adoptions from 1950 to today.
It comes amid fears that some children have been stolen and released for international adoption without the knowledge of their biological parents.
Swedish media have over the years reported on children whose adoption documents were forged, mothers who had their children wrongly declared dead at birth, as well as forced adoptions, kidnappings and stolen children.
About 60,000 children have been adopted to Sweden since the middle of the 20th century, mainly from South Korea, India, Colombia and Sri Lanka.
More than 4,000 children have been adopted from China, often infants who Chinese authorities said had been abandoned by their parents, according to an investigation report from Dagens Nyheter.
But several adoption scandals have surfaced in China, including the abduction of children alleged to have been born in violation of population control policies and then smuggled in by adoption officials around the world.
And in Chile, a special judge has since 2018 been tasked with investigating suspected illegal adoptions, most of which occurred during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship from 1973 to 1990.
Sweden will formally appoint Anna Singer, professor of civil and family law at Uppsala University, as head of the adoption inquiry. She will present her conclusions in November 2023.