PART I: Migrant child custody in Finland aren’t always open-and-shut cases

by , under Wael Ch.

According to the City of Helsinki, “the core task of the family work is to strengthen interaction between children and parents”.

Migrant Tales has received many calls from migrant families stating that they were “deceived” into family separation.

An Iraqi family was driven into such a situation where the mother and the children were separated from the father. Due to the father’s war trauma, child-protection authorities decided it would be better for the father to live in a separate apartment from the wife and children.

After a while, an assistant from the child-welfare office was sent to help and support the mother in her daily chores. The assistant came but sat for two hours daily in the living room or at the dining table drinking coffee and making phone calls.

After some time, the family was invited to a so-called child evaluation center to evaluate the impact of war on the children. It would have surely been a good initiative for a family that had experienced war and for its children who were born during times of war.

At the end of the day, the family was surprised to hear that the children would not be allowed to leave the so-called evaluation center. The surprised family was told that the children now are in child care custody for evaluation.

”They took my children. I don’t sleep at night and I am dying from my pain [and loss],” the mother said, ”I cry all the time. They said we will take the children for one week to help you, but they never returned them home.”

She added: ”My children are eating pork at the Finnish family’s home. They are having urinary tract infections; they look pale and have lost lots of weight.”

There is absolutely something wrong here. Could what happened because of a translation-interpretation problem? Is it a deception?

The parents insist that the social worker always told them that what was being done was for the best of the children and that everything was going to be fine. The only problem, however, as the mother explained, was that the children talk about war and guns while they play.

Unfortunately, we have never heard the child-care authorities making a statement or stopping a deportation of a child at the airport because it was unsafe to deport them back to their home country. Moreover, we have not seen as well the system trying to help keep an immigrant family together, work with them hand in hand and to integrate them.

Another problem is that Immigrant parents in Finland are given their Wilma username and password but are left on their own to discover the Finnish educational system.