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 in the 1980s and 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 in the 1980s

On 16 March 2018, the National Council adopted the Ruiz Postulate 17.4181 on investigating illegal adoptions of children from Sri Lanka in Switzerland in the 1980s.

The main tenet of the postulate was an instruction to the Federal Council to examine, in cooperation with the cantons, the practices of private intermediaries and the cantonal and federal authorities with regard to adoptions of children from Sri Lanka in the 1980s.

The Federal Council's report, which is due to be published at the end of 2020, will cover three main aspects:

  • A historical study of the legislative framework at the time and the practices of the authorities and private intermediaries. The Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) was commissioned to draw up an independent report on this, covering the period between 1973 and 1997.
  • The support given to adoptees in the search for their origins.
  • An analysis of the current legislative framework governing intercountry adoption procedures, including recommendations on the current and future legislative framework and practices.

In order to ensure that the analysis is as wide-reaching as possible, a steering group comprising cantonal representatives, representatives of the adoptee association "Back to the Roots" and a politician was set up to support the work of the Confederation.

Federal support for adoptees in search for origins

The Confederation is committed to working with the cantons to support adoptees in their search for their origins. To this end, the FOJ and the CCDJP are planning to set up a special working group on the search for origins, which will not be limited to Sri Lanka.

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

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 27.02.2020

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