Children’s rights are laid out in international, regional and national frameworks that establish the fundamental rights each child has. Children and young people who lack adequate paternal care require specific protection and are more likely to not have their rights met. We take action to amplify their voices and bring them to the forefront of policy and decision-making, working with states and partners to help ensure that children and young people who have lost parental care or risk losing it are protected, cared for and empowered and that their rights are respected.

Together with partners and recognized stakeholders, we work to help build a sustainable future for all children and young people. We put them at the centre of our actions to support the Sustainable Development Goals, recognizing that every single child and young person has a right to be included in global efforts to make sustainable development a reality.




Initiatives with partners

We join forces with other recognized stakeholders who work to protect and promote child rights. Through collaboration and effective partnerships we set out to have the greatest possible impact on the lives of children and young people.

Promoting standards of care

We promote and ensure quality alternative care. We work with governments, care professionals and partners to help ensure that children's and young people’s rights are fulfilled and every child and young person has the best, most suitable care and support for their specific individual needs.

SOS Children’s Villages operates in the spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and encourages governments and partners to implement its principles. Accordingly, we work to ensure that every child and young person is granted the right to grow up in a supportive, positive and loving environment.

Decisions related to children’s and young people’s care must always have the best interests of each individual child and young person at the centre. Every effort should be made to keep families together, and, in cases where separation is necessary, to enable family reunification.

When a child or young person cannot be cared for by the parents, the state is responsible to assess what other options are suitable for the care, including care in the extended family, foster care and other such forms of family-based or family-like alternative care, as well as adoption. Inter-country adoption, which involves the permanent transfer of a child or young person from his or her country of origin to another country, can be an option for some children and young people without parental care when other possible solutions in the country of origin have failed.

Nonetheless, SOS Children’s Villages acknowledges the complexity of inter-country adoption, and the potential dangers for misuse and illicit practice.

Therefore, SOS Children’s Villages believes that priority should be given to alternative care options in the child's or young person’s country of origin (as stated in Article 21 of the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child) such as domestic adoption, foster care, community-based care or family-based care.

Should inter-country adoption be considered, the well-established internationally recognised treaties and conventions serve as guidelines for best practice. The most notable of these is the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation Regarding Inter-country Adoption (otherwise known as The Hague Convention).

SOS Children’s Villages strongly urges that if and when inter-country adoptions are deemed necessary, such adoptions occur between states that have ratified the Hague Convention.  Private adoptions through non-accredited agencies should never be allowed, as they involve demonstrably greater risks of illicit practice. 

Finally, SOS Children’s Villages recognises that adoption adds an extra layer of complexity to a child’s and young person’s life, particularly in the case of inter-country adoptions, whereby they are uprooted from their countries and communities of origin.  SOS Children’s Villages advocates for comprehensive post-adoption support for everyone involved in the adoption, particularly the children and young people. Such services must include access to mental health providers, family and child counselling, adoptive family community organisations, and support groups, so as to facilitate a child’s and young person’s integration into his or her adoptive family.

In light of the forcible removals of children from Ukraine to Russia and their subsequent illegal adoption (and granting of Russian citizenship) in clear violation of the applicable legal standards outlined above we note:

  • Such actions have subsequently been identified as a war crime by the International Criminal Court (and the UN) precipitating arrest warrants against the Russian President and Child Rights Ombudsperson.
  • We reiterate our position that international adoptions are unacceptable during any humanitarian emergency, and certainly not as an immediate response. It should never be assumed that children in such situations are either orphans or otherwise in need of , or even available for, adoption.
  • All measures taken to protect children during an emergency must focus on providing the best possible quality care, on a temporary basis, with a primary focus on suitably registering these children with relevant agencies, for example, with the ICRC, with a view to establishing family contact and to arranging planned and safe reintegration with family.
  • Only once all efforts towards family reunification are definitively exhausted should international adoption even be considered. However, such a decision must then also be fully compliant with the relevant international legal instruments as noted above.