NewsMeaningful cooperation for the benefit of the child

Meaningful cooperation for the benefit of the child

When I started in Interpedia as an education coordinator in 2004, we were going through a very hectic time. The big upheaval of 2005, moving the office from Vaasa to Helsinki, caused a variety of arrangements from practical moving to recruiting new members of staff, and at the same time we were organising an international seminar to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the reform of the Finnish Adoption Act. 

I originally applied to Interpedia because I knew the organisation was working with South Africa. The country is important to me personally. In 2005, I participated in starting sponsorship programme with SA Cares for Life, after which I moved on to the position of adoption coordinator and made my first business trip to the country. My relationship with South Africa has only deepened over the years, and I want to maintain it by following the country’s society and culture. Working with South Africa continues to motivate me, and for my part, I want to be involved in changing at least one child’s life for the better. 

Some years later I was given the responsibility for cooperation with Colombia, and I have had a chance to familiarise myself with that as well. The country has gradually become as dear to me as South Africa. These relations are very important to me, I have gotten to know people and the countries and their adoption systems, and I have also been able to have an impact on them. 

Deeper cooperation 

Our partnerships have changed a lot over the years. We have moved to a much more dialogical way of working, to deeper cooperation. Now, even on a daily basis, we reflect on ways to improve family support, children’s affairs and post adoption services. 

I have had the opportunity to be involved in building the post adoption services, and its importance has grown. We are constantly learning new things, and through adoptees’ experiences we can also develop adoption work. Nowadays, the work is much more individual and tailored, the preparation of the families is more in-depth and we have more encounters. Now we investigate the child’s health condition as carefully as we can, and at the same time we need to know the capabilities of the applicant family before the placement. 

Only change is permanent 

There has been no quiet moment during these years. Anything can happen and you have to be prepared to react to it. Legislation or political situation in the contact country may change, suddenly there may be an ash cloud blocking travel or a global pandemic stopping everything. 

Technology has also advanced enormously. Before we communicated everything by fax or paper mail, even the use of email was rare. Today we have many different channels and video connections, the world has shrunk and we are part of a global family. At the same time, the work has become much faster.  

Adoption systems are constantly evolving 

Ethical work is important to me. It has been a great honor to be involved in developing adoption systems in collaboration with partners. Much progress has been made both in our contact countries and in Finland. In addition, conditions in the children’s homes have improved considerably. The childcare culture in the contact countries has changed, the education of childminders has progressed, and we know much more about the impact of children’s homes’ conditions on children, which is important for the attachment relationship. 

The development of systems is a good thing as such. The downside of it is that the adoption processes have become longer in all countries. As a result, the children stay longer in the children’s homes. Bureaucracy is essential in a legal process, but there is still a need to constantly consider how to streamline it in the best interest of the child. 

Over the years, child protection in our contact countries has also moved forward, which means, for example, an increase in domestic adoptions. Yet there are still children that cannot be placed in their birth countries. In those cases, international adoption is a good option to ensure permanent family for a child. 

Teamwork with a purpose 

The best part of my job has been the great Interpedia-team and my colleagues around the world and the feeling of doing meaningful work. My primary motive in this work is to see the child getting a family, the moment the stars light up in his/her eyes, often already on the pick-up trip. The goal is to find the right family for the child. It has been a joy and an honour to work with so many wonderful families who have provided a wonderful growth environment for these adoptees. 

The child is our primary client. It is extremely important, and if that is compromised, I am in the wrong place. I am prepared to spend a lot of time for sake of the child, to make the effort so that I would not be the one to delay the child’s process. 

Each child proposal requires a lot of work these days, medical consultations take time, and we reflect on the placements carefully in our cooperation networks and our team. There are many children overlooked by the system, but if you look more closely into the case, new possibilities may be found – this is very motivating. 

Nordic cooperation is closer than ever 

Cooperation in our own team and with my colleagues in the contact countries has been very important. In addition, Nordic cooperation has been exciting and useful. This network has become much tighter over the years. In many cases, my closest colleague can now be found in another Nordic country. This is useful for professional development and also very inspiring. I represent Interpedia on the Board of the Nordic Adoption Council NAC and, in addition, I am often in contact with my colleagues in other Nordic countries. 

Interpedia has always been a very active player in Nordic cooperation. We think very similarly about the adoption field and share the same values. Our common views on this work are recorded in the Nordic Adoption Approach.  

Future visions 

I am currently looking forward to the time after Covid-19 and I hope that our contact countries survive these difficult times. Unfortunately, pandemic has not reduced the need for child protection and, with it, perhaps the need for international adoptions. The post-pandemic era will surely include new practises and reforms can hardly be avoided, because nothing in adoption work is as certain as change. 

Lapsi naisen sylissä.

Marika Elmeranta 
The author is a Senior Adoption Coordinator