Illegal adoptions

Already in 1999, in its Dispatch on Switzerland’s Ratification of the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, the Federal Council referred to the abuses that had been reported for many years and in many parts of the world. The children adopted between the 1980s and the 1990s from abroad are now adults. Some have gone in search of their origins, uncovering illicit practices that affected their adoption. All countries receiving adopted children are now confronted with these issues.

Report on illegal adoptions from Sri Lanka

The Federal Council adopted its report in response to the Postulate 17.4181 on 11 December 2020. The report is based on a commissioned study by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) that was published on 27 February 2020. The study exposes serious irregularities in some cases in child adoptions from Sri Lanka between 1973 and 1997. The Federal Council has acknowledged the misconduct of the federal and cantonal authorities in this regard and expressed its regret to the adoptees and their families.

In its report, the Federal Council also notes certain weaknesses in the current legislation and practice in the area of international adoptions. A group of experts will now determine the need for action and will propose the necessary changes to legislation and practice.

In search of origins

Responsibility for supporting those affected in the search for their origins rests with the cantons. On behalf of the committee of the CCJPD, an interdisciplinary working group has formulated recommendations in a report on how those affected can be better supported in the search for their origins. These recommendations are not limited to adoptions from Sri Lanka.

Furthermore, on Switzerland’s initiative a group of European states and Sri Lanka have agreed on a cooperation protocol for the processing of adoptee requests to search for their origins in Sri Lanka. Adoptees wishing to send an application to Sri Lanka should contact the Information Service in their canton of residence.

Dans le cadre d’un projet-pilote, la Confédération et les cantons soutiennent financièrement les personnes adoptées du Sri Lanka à la recherche de leurs origines. À cet effet, une convention a été signée à Berne le 16 mai 2022.

Federal action against illegal adoptions

Switzerland is an active member of the Hague Conference's Working Group on preventing and addressing illicit practices in intercountry adoption.


For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.


(These documents are not available in English)

Last modification 15.11.2023

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