Information on foreign adoptions / international adoptions

On the one hand, international adoptions are adoptions that are not carried out in Germany, but in which the Adoption of a child abroad abroad by adoptive parents living in Germany. On the other hand, these are also adoptions in which a child is brought to Germany from abroad in order to be adopted here.

Firstly, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ("Hague Adoption Convention") is important here.

The member states of this convention have agreed on certain standards and procedures for international adoptions. This should also ensure that the central adoption centres, which are responsible for supporting and arranging intercountry adoptions in Germany, are involved in intercountry adoption proceedings in good time.

The central adoption centres advise and support the prospective parents / parents willing to adopt and also prepare reports on suitability for adoption for the foreign adoption authorities. For every international adoption procedure, the Adoption Placement Act requires the involvement of the central adoption agencies or a recognised placement agency in Germany.

In the case of third countries that have not ratified the Hague Adoption Convention, the involvement of the competent adoption agencies in Germany is not guaranteed. This leads to particular difficulties when recognising foreign adoptions in Germany if the adoptive parents themselves have not involved a recognised placement agency in Germany at an early stage.

While adoption decisions between the member states of the Hague Convention are automatically recognised, this is not the case for decisions from third countries. These must always first be declared effective through a recognition procedure in Germany.
The Adoption Effectiveness Act was amended on 01.04.2021. According to the now applicable Section 4 AdWirkG, a foreign adoption decision is not recognised if the adoption was carried out without an international adoption mediation in accordance with the Adoption Mediation Act. Recognition can then only be granted if it is to be expected that a parent-child relationship will develop between the adopter and the child and the adoption is necessary for the child's welfare.

This therefore increases the requirements for the recognition of a foreign adoption decision and can further complicate and delay the recognition procedure.

However, this can cause particular difficulties, especially for the adopted child's entry into Germany: If an entry visa is required for the child, the adoption must usually first be recognised in Germany. This will not be possible shortly after the adoption due to the lack of a corresponding decision in Germany. The recognition procedure can take several months and it is not uncommon for the procedure to take over a year.

If the foreign adoption has been carried out properly and the competent adoption agency in Germany has been involved beforehand, it can issue the adoptive parents with a certificate in accordance with Section 2d AdVermiG stating that a proper placement has taken place and that an application for recognition of the foreign decision has been made in Germany.

According to § 7 AdWirkG, the foreign adoption decision is then provisionally recognised until the recognition procedure has been completed, unless recognition is excluded by way of exception in accordance with German regulations.

With the help of the certificate issued by the adoption placement centre, the resulting provisional recognition of the decision means that an entry permit for the adopted child can usually be obtained quickly, allowing them to enter and live together in Germany.

Since foreign adoptions are not only humanly but also legally demanding, it is advisable to obtain competent legal advice in good time before the adoption procedure begins, but at the latest before the adoption is carried out, in order to avoid mistakes that could make it difficult or even impossible for the foreign adoption to be recognised and for the adoptive child to enter the country.

Britta Schönborn

Specialist lawyer for family law

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