Alternative care

As a child, you need someone who stands by you and believes in you, no matter what. SOS Children’s Villages is here for those children who are growing up without the care and support they need. Our quality care puts their individual needs and best interests first and foremost, and provides a nurturing and stable [family] environment. With strong and healthy relationships, each child and young person can grow up with the trust and sense of belonging that is essential for them to become their strongest selves.

We believe that, whenever possible, children should grow up with their biological families. Despite the best efforts of authorities and SOS family strengthening, family breakdown is sometimes unavoidable.

At such times, children need suitable alternative care until their family's circumstances improve enough for them to return home. Children who no longer have a living parent require long-term quality alternative care to support them in developing into independent adults.

We promote and are guided by the UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care for Children to which we made key contributions in the development process. In line with the guidelines, we draw on our wealth of experience to provide and support a range of alternative care settings, because different children, different cultures, and different situations call for different care options.

Inter-country adoption

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 is granted the right to grow up in a supportive, positive and loving environment.

Decisions related to children’s care must always have the best interests of each individual child 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 cannot be cared for by the parents, the State is responsible to assess what other options are suitable for the care of the child, 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 from his or her country of origin to another country, can be an option for some children 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 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 life, particularly in the case of inter-country adoptions, whereby children 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.  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 integration into his or her adoptive family.

Promoting standards of care

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