adoption · expats · finland · health · multicultural families · multilingualism

Kickstarting support in English language for adoptive families in Finland

Few weeks ago I was asked to speak at the brunch for waiting adoptive parents organised by Adoptioperheet ry, the association of adoptive families in Finland. It was the first event organised in English language, I was honoured to get a platform for share my personal experience as well as meeting several attendants belonging to international families.

I spoke about our adoption story, as well as the struggles we faced after our son came home (my slides can be found here). I was pleased to hear that it’s become fairly common for Finnish municipalities to offer or sponsor adoption counselling in English, but we still lack information, events, resources, and peer support for families who don’t speak Finnish fluently.

After the event, I was encouraged to start an English-speaking community for adoptive families living in Finland. I don’t want any other family to find themselves in the situation we faced, all alone with no idea where to turn for help or support. I want to make a case that families like mine, where no parent speaks Finnish fluently, are even more vulnerable. There are several reasons for this:

  • expat families don’t have family support available;
  • immigrants always live at the margins of society. We never are in the eye of information flow, we don’t have easy access to newspapers, and are not aware of many services;
  • professional support is always limited by language barriers. It’s hard for Finnish speaking adoptive families to get support, let alone if you add the restriction of finding an English speaking professional.

Finland is small, adoptive families are few, and international adoptive families are even less. This is why my starting point was creating a Facebook group to gather families who need or are willing to speak English. The objectives of the group are:

  • to provide a first layer of peer support to adoptive families in Finland,
  • to improve the information flow in English language regarding adoption and adoptive parenting,
  • to plan and organise events in English language for adoptive families or waiting adoptive parents.

I plan to work closely with Adoptioperheet. I don’t want the group to become a reason for international adoptive families to be further cut out from the local adoption community. On the contrary, I’m hoping to fill the gaps that language barriers have created and facilitating connection.

If you are an adoptive parent living in Finland, there’s much you can do to help this initiative:

  • join the Facebook group and help me advertise it;
  • suggest or plan events and resources that you feel can be useful for adoptive families;
  • volunteer to translate from Finnish/Swedish to English existing materials on Adoptioperheet’s website.

You can download, share, and print this flyer and pin it to your local Neuvola clinic, library, any relevant place:

adoptive families flyer

English-speaking adoptive families in Finland are a tiny minority and we need all available help to make sure no adoptive family is left alone.

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