Conditions for adoption in France

Adoption is, first and foremost, a gesture of love by which a child can be given to a family and a family to a child.

It creates a genuine parent-child relationship between the adopter and the adoptee. However, this relationship will only exist if the adopter expressly asks for it and if it is made official by an order from the regional court [tribunal de grande instance].

  • In France, who may adopt?

    • Jointly: Spouses married for more than two years, not separated from body, whether of the same sex or of different sex. They must both be at least 28 years old, unless they have been married for more than two years.  However, partners in a civil partnership and unmarried couples may not adopt jointly (only one of the partners or one of the members of the couple can be an adoptive parent).

    • Individuals: any person (whether a man or a woman) aged at least 28. However, if the person is married, they must have the agreement of their spouse.

    • Ÿ In principle, the adopter or adopters must be at least 15 years older than the child they wish to adopt, however, the judge may allow exceptions if the age gap is smaller.
      It should be noted that in the special case of the adoption of a spouse's child, the adopter does not have to meet the age condition. In addition, the minimum age gap between the adopter and the adoptee is reduced to 10 years.

  • Which children can be adopted?

    • Not all children can be adopted. Only the following are eligible for adoption:
      Children in care [pupilles de l'Etat] (children of no known or established parentage, orphans with no family) with administrative consent;
      -Ÿ Children who are the subject of a judicial declaration of abandonment;
      -Ÿ Children whose father and mother (or the family council chaired by the guardianship judge, if the child no longer has any parents) have validly given their agreement, in a notarised instrument, for example.

    • In addition, for a full adoption , the child must in principle:
      -Ÿ Be under 15 years of age (up to 20 years in certain cases);
      -Ÿ Have personally given their consent to the adoption, if they are aged over 13 years;
      - Must have lived for at least six months in the adopter's home.

    • In the case of a simple adoption, the child must have given their personal consent to their adoption if they are aged 13 or over (the adoptee may be an adult).

  • What is the adoption procedure?

    • Except in the case of an adoption within the family (adoption of the spouse's child, of a nephew, etc.), persons who wish to adopt in France must have consent from the Department of Social Welfare for Children (ASE), under the authority of the President of the General Council of their administrative department.

    • Once the consent has been obtained, the prospective adopters must file an application requesting to adopt the child (whether the adoption will be full or simple) at the regional court of the place in which they live. The decision is recorded in the civil status register in the child's place of birth and is mentioned in the family record book [livret de famille].

  • What is the difference between a simple adoption and a full adoption?

    • The effects of these two types of adoption are different:

      -Ÿ  Full adoption definitively severs the parent-child relationship between the adoptee and their birth family (except when the adoptee is the child of the spouse). In this case, the adoptee has a new parent-child relationship which replaces the previous one;

      -Ÿ  Simple adoption creates a new parent-child relationship between the adopter and the adoptee. But it does not sever the parent-child relationship between the adoptee and their birth family: the two relationships coexist.

  • What is international adoption?

    • The term international adoption is used when the prospective adoptee is not a French national. Adoptions of this kind are subject to strict rules (compliance with the laws in the country of origin and laws in the host country, in particular) which ensure legality and transparency.

Frequently asked questions