How to Adopt from Sweden

Uppsala Cathedral

WARNING: Sweden is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Sweden before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Adoption Authority

Sweden’s Adoption Authority

Swedish Intercountry Adoptions Authority (MIA) Ministry of Health and Social Affairs Box 308 101 26 Stockholm Tel: +46 (8) 54555680 Fax: +46 (8) 650 4110 Email: Internet: MIA

NOTE: Most of the following information refers to the process of adopting from Sweden as country of origin, and would be used only in rare adoption cases from Sweden. Contact the MIA for more information on the process of adopting a child from a third country to Sweden.

The Process

Because Sweden is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Sweden must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Sweden.
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of child in Sweden.
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider:

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Sweden is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Sweden as part of your adoption dossier. Sweden’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Swedish law.

3. Be Matched with a Child by in Sweden:

If both the United States and Sweden determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the municipality in Sweden has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the municipal authority in Sweden may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Sweden. The authority in Sweden will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the authority in Sweden. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption:

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Sweden. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Swedish authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Sweden where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Swedish authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Sweden before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.

Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

5. Adopt or Gain Legal Custody of Child from Sweden:

Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child from Sweden, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption from Sweden.

The process for finalizing the adoption or gaining legal custody in Sweden generally includes the following:

  • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Swedish Intercountry Adoptions Authority (MIA) under the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs is the Central Authority under the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. MIA is responsible for maintaining a list of authorized adoption agencies in Sweden. They consider requests for authorization and monitor the performance of the authorized adoption agencies. Furthermore, in cases in which prospective adoptive parents seek to adopt a specific child (e.g. a relative), and thus a special reason exists to adopt without the intermediation of an authorized agency, MIA must ultimately consider whether the procedure is acceptable under Swedish law. NOTE: MIA's role as Central Authority is relevant only to intercountry adoptions to Sweden from a third country of origin. The Social Welfare Committee in the municipality of the child's residence in Sweden is the competent authority in the case of adoption of a Swedish child.
  • ROLE OF THE COURT: The final adoption of a relative child from Sweden to the U.S. will need to take place in a U.S. court. A Swedish court does not have authority to decide on an adoption from Sweden. The Social Welfare Committee in the municipality where the child resides will determine if the child should be adopted or not. For adoption cases in which the parents reside in Sweden, the adoption decree is issued by the local District Court (Tingsrätt, Decrees are not available in English. At this point the legal relationship between adoptive parents and adopted child is equal to the relationship between biological parents and children. An adoption in Sweden is not reversible. When the adoptive parents are residing in Sweden, or are Swedish citizens, the District Court will automatically inform the Swedish population registry, maintained by the Swedish Tax Agency, of the adoption and you may order a new birth certificate from them: Birth certificates (Personbevis) are available in English. Please make sure that it is signed by an official and carries the stamp of the Agency.
  • ADOPTION APPLICATION: For prospective adoptive parents residing in Sweden, the Swedish Intercountry Adoptions Authority web site has detailed information about Swedish adoption law, policy and procedures. Information is provided in both Swedish and English.
  • TIME FRAME: The intercountry adoption process of a child from a third country to Sweden can take from two to four years from when the Swedish authorities approve the application of the adoptive parents until the parents receive the child. There is no information available on an estimated timeframe when adopting a related child from Sweden to the United States as it very uncommon.
  • ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting to Sweden from a third country include: Prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay from approximately 80 000 – 200 000 SEK, approximately US $10,000 to $23,000 for adoption services, including the cost for the trip to pick up the child and return to Sweden. There are no government fees. Most parents can qualify for a Swedish government grant of approximately SEK 40 000, approximately US $5,000, when they return with the child to Sweden.
  • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: A list of documents needed to apply for adoption as a Swedish resident/citizen can be found here.
  • AUTHENTICATION OF DOCUMENTS: The United States and Sweden are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.

6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

1. Birth Certificate

When adopting a relative child from Sweden:Since the adoption will be finalized in the United States, you cannot obtain a new birth certificate in Sweden. You will receive documentation from the Social Welfare Committee giving consent to the adoption of the child, and based on that the child will be allowed to leave Sweden for final adoption in the U.S.

When residing in Sweden and adopting a child from Sweden or from a third country: Swedish birth certificates, so-called Personbevis, are issued by the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket, When the parents are residing in Sweden, or are Swedish citizens, the District Court will automatically inform the Tax Agency when the adoption is final to update the child's information. Birth certificates (Personbevis) are available in English. Please make sure that it is signed by an official and carries the stamp of the Agency.

2. Swedish Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Sweden.

Swedish passports are issued by the Swedish police. Applications are submitted at your local police station. For application procedures, please see the Swedish police website

3. U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Consulate General in Stockholm, Sweden. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Consulate General for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

To learn more about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

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