NewsInterpedia’s five decades

Interpedia’s five decades

Nepalilainen lapsi seisoo kadulla kaupan edessä. Kuvassa on myös Interpedian 50-vuotisjuhlan logo

The history of Interpedia is part of the history of intercountry adoptions and development cooperation in Finland. Already in the 1960s, awareness of the gap between poor and rich countries aroused solidarity towards third world nations in Finland as well. The desire to help especially vulnerable children appealed to more and more people.

Interpedia starts intercountry adoptions in Finland

The end of the Korean War in 1953 is considered the most significant milestone in intercountry adoption activities in the world. In Finland, interest in intercountry adoptions arose in the early 1970s based on the experiences and example of other Nordic countries.

Previously, most of the adoptions in our country had been adoptions of Finnish babies. A few hundred children were also adopted from Finland to other Nordic countries from the 1950s until the 1970s. The first child who received a home from Finland through intercountry adoption arrived in 1971, when Finland was still a country that sent children for adoption.

In 1972 families interested in intercountry adoption and helping children in developing countries had their first discussions about organizing themselves. Finally the decision to found their own organization was made in Närpiö on May 18, 1974. Hjälp till Nödställda Barn (Help for children in need), later Interpedia, was born.

Gradually more and more internationally adopted children began to arrive in Finland during the 1970s. Since the 1980s, the number of children adopted from abroad grew steadily until 2005, when 308 children got a new home in Finland. Since then, the number of adoptions has decreased until recent years. The downward trend is a global phenomenon.

From a small child sponsorship association to a professional development cooperation organization

From the early days of the association, the founders and first members of Interpedia wanted to help the children of poor countries in their own country as well. The first official child sponsorship program was established in 1978, when Agneta Glad was assigned a child to sponsor through the Canadian organization Families for Children (FFC), and she decided to organize the same opportunity for others interested in helping as well.

In 1981, the first development cooperation project supported by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was started in Somalia together with FFC. Over the decades, development cooperation and sponsorship activities have expanded and become more professional. Currently, Interpedia’s development cooperation operates in seven different countries, and there are a total of five projects funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nepal and Ethiopia.

Global education in Finnish schools and early childhood education has been running alongside development cooperation for years. The aim of the education is to raise the awareness of Finnish children and young people about the lives of children in developing countries, children’s rights and sustainable development.

Jubilee publication

The timeline of the publication below compiles milestones from Interpedia’s five-decade history. The volunteer organization founded by a few families has grown into a professional adult and has influenced the lives of thousands of children over the course of half a century.

Five decades in a nutshell

The 1970s

Interpedia was founded and the association, which was initially ran by volunteers, distributed advice and contact information to families interested in intercountry adoption. International connections were created, and operating principles were refined. The child sponsorship programs began.

The 1980s

The first development cooperation projects supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were started. The child sponsorship programs grew rapidly. Interpedia did a lot of advocacy work to get international adoptions into legislation. Official adoption service provider status was achieved with the law reform in 1985. Cultural groups were established, and preparatory courses for adoptive parents were developed.

The 1990s

Benefits and financial aid for adoptive families were advocated, and together with Nordic colleagues Interpedia participated in the preparation of the Hague Convention. At the beginning of the decade the depression slowed down the growth.

The 2000s

The number of children adopted to Finland increased to a peak, especially with adoptions from China. The role as an adoption organization began to change from a family organization to an official actor along with the changes in the organization field. International child sponsorship organizations landed in Finland and received a lot of attention. The number of sponsors stopped growing and Interpedia discussed the possibilities of competing with large organizations. The decision to move the office to Helsinki was made.

The 2010s

The focus of adoptions shifted to special needs adoptions and the work of the adoption service became more individual for each child and family in the process. Large cuts in governmental development cooperation funds required adaptation measures.

The 2020s

The covid pandemic had a significant impact on both adoption service and development cooperation. It caused delays and special arrangements, but it also brought new and functional ways of working. The organization is celebrating its 50-year history.