Adoption means that one or two adults go through a legal process to become legal parents to a child they initially don't have a legal connection to. Here we have gathered information about what options same-sex couples have to adopt internationally or nationally and what the adoption process looks like.

Since 2003 it’s possible for same-sex couples with the same legal gender to apply for, and get consent for, joint adoption in Sweden. Single parents can also get consent to adopt in Sweden. Most children that are adopted by parents in Sweden are born in other countries than Sweden, this is called international or transnational adoption. Only about 20 children per year that are born in Sweden are adopted from their native family to another family in Sweden. This is called national adoption.

Most adoptions that happen within LGBTQ families are so called related adoptions. Related adoption means, unlike national or international adoption, to adopt a child you already have a relationship with. Related adoption is required after for example assisted reproduction abroad or after home insemination in order for the one in a same-sex couple that didn’t carry the child to become the legal parent. Read more about related adoptions here.

In international or national adoptions the children and parents most often don’t have a relationship prior to the adoption.

What opportunities do same-sex couples have to adopt internationally and nationally?

Since the law was changed in 2003 not one international adoption has been carried out by the Swedish adoption organisations to a same-sex couple. But at least one national adoption has been carried out to a same-sex couple. This adoption was observed by the media in 2012 as the first national adoption to a same-sex couple. Read more about this adoption here.

Regarding international adoptions to same-sex couples we are facing a change. Adoptionscentrum, which is the oldest adoption organisation in Sweden, has cooperated with South Africa and Colombia for many years. During the last few years many changes have happened and these two countries now have a legislation that makes it possible for same-sex couples to apply for being accepted as adoptive parents. A handful of same-sex couples that have been given the go-ahead for international adoption are now in queue at Adoptionscentrum and a same-sex couple had their adoption application approved in Colombia 2016. Read the couple’s own story here (link). To adopt as a same-sex couple is thus hard, but not impossible.

 Adoption abroad, this is how it works

An international adoption is a process that takes several years from when it’s started to when you get custody of your adoptive child. The preparations for an adoption are always done in the following order.

  • Get married (if you are a couple and aren’t already married). In order to apply for consent to adopt you have to be married. Most countries also require that you should have been married for a number of years before an adoption can happen.
  • Get in the queue at an adoption organisation. You can do this before you apply for consent for international adoption at the social services (family law). Adoptionscentrum is today the only Swedish adoption organisation that mediates adoptions from South Africa and Colombia; the countries that have a working on-going international adoption and a legislation that makes it possible for same-sex couples to apply for consent to become accepted as adoptive parents.
  • Information counseling at the social services (the family law) in the municipality where you are nationally registered. The aim of this session is to give you basic information about how an international adoption works and to refer you to the mandatory parental education.
  • Parental education before international adoption. This education is mandatory for everybody who is to adopt internationally and you have to take part before the consent assessment starts.
  • The consent assessment. All future adoptive parents have to get a consent for international adoption from the social welfare board. In a consent assessment questions are asked about the applicant’s background. There’s a health examination and you get to give personal references. The assessment is made by a caseworker in the family law in the municipality where you are nationally registered. Decision about consent is made by the social welfare board.
  • Contact with the adoption organisations. When you have been given your consent you can take this to the adoption organisation you have chosen and the contact with the organisation is started. When you’ve gotten this far in the process it’s time to, together with a case worker at the adoption organisation, discuss your options, choice of country, etc. The different adoption organisations have different routines for this.