Change of policy – an adoptee may now be notified regarding contact-request from family of origin

Both Norwegian authorities and the Norwegian Adoption Accredited Bodies receive from  time to time letters from family of origin or others, who want to get in touch with adoptees.  

Les på norsk: Varsel om kontaktønske fra opprinnelig slekt.

Previously, letters or contact requests were only forwarded to adoptees who already had requested access to their adoption documents or who explicitly had notified Norwegian authorities that he or she wished to receive such inquiries. The reasoning behind this practice was that only in these cases could we assume that the adoptee had knowledge of his or her own adoption and had an interest in having such inquiries forwarded. These routines have been revised.

Below is a description of today’s policy:  

From autumn 2020, we will notify adoptees of contact requests if:

  • You are adopted to Norway from another country and have reached the age of 18. Hence, the  Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir) assume that all intercountry adoptees have the knowledge of being  adopted.

  • You were adopted nationally before 1 July 2018, have reached the age of 18 and have previously requested access to the documents in your adoption case. The reasoning behind this policy, is that only in these cases can we assume that a person adopted nationally has knowledge of being adopted and that the adoptee wish to be informed about such inquiries.

    If a nationally adoptee never has requested access to his/her adoption documents, Bufdir will not notify the adoptee of letters or contact requests. The reasoning behind this policy, is that in these cases we cannot know whether the adoptee has knowledge of  being adopted or whether he/she wishes to be notified of contact requests.

  • You are adopted after 1 July 2018, nationally or internationally, and have turned 18 years old.

What if an adoptee does not want to be notified of potential contact requests?

If an adoptee does not wish to be notified of potential letters or contact requests, it is possible to opt out by notifying the Norwegian Central Authority – Bufdir. We will subsequently register this on your adoption case.

From what time must the contact request be received for an adoptee to be notified of the inquiry?

If the adoptee has not opted out, you will be notified of inquiries that Bufdir receives from autumn of 2020.

What happens if the inquiry is received before the adoptee has turned 18 years old?

Such inquiries are filed on the adoption case, and the adoptee will be notified about the contact request when he/she reaches 18. The adoptive parents will not be notified of letters to the adoptee, neither before nor after the adoptee turns 18 years old.

What inquiries may an adoptee be notified of?

In some cases, it is not clear who the sender of the inquiry is - whether it is from family of origin or from others. In practice, Bufdir does not have the opportunity to verify the identity of the sender. Letters may also be received in a sealed envelope addressed to the adoptee. In such cases we have no way of knowing whether the envelope contains a request for contact, or something else. Bufdir is not authorized to open sealed envelopes addressed to someone else.

Hence, adoptees will be notified of all inquiries we receive, and the identity of the sender will be unverified.

What may a notification from Bufdir to an adoptee contain?

Because no two letters or contact wishes to adoptees are the same, there will be great variation in what information Bufdir’s notice to an adoptee will contain. As a general rule, we will inform the adoptee about the sender's name and who he or she claims to be, or what relation he/she claims to have to the adoptee. If the enquiry is a sealed envelope, the adoptee will be informed of this. If possible, we will provide short information about what the letter contains.
The notification from Bufdir will stress that it is up to the adoptee whether he/she wants to contact Bufdir and have the contact request forwarded to him or herself, and that it is entirely up to the adoptee whether he/she wish to contact the sender.

What kind of response will the sender receive from Bufdir?

If the inquiry comes from a foreign Central Authority or a partner abroad who has knowledge of an adoption taken place, Bufdir will confirm the receipt of the letter. We will also inform the sender that the adoptee has been notified of the inquiry. It is stressed that it is entirely up to the adoptee whether he or she wishes to act on the contact request.

If the sender is a private person and his/her address is known, we will send confirmation of receipt to the sender. Bufdir will neither confirm nor deny whether an adoption has taken place. The sender will only receive general information about our routines in these cases.