Adoption of a foreign child - conversion of a weak into a strong adoption

Special provisions apply to international adoption. Many states are only aware of adoption with a weak effect.
This means that the rights and obligations of the adopted child to the family of origin do not expire completely. In addition, the adopted child does not automatically receive German citizenship if one of the adopters is German or German.

If you have adopted a child abroad and this foreign adoption has only weak effects, it is possible to have it converted into an adoption with strong effects in Germany.

You can check with your local adoption agency and family court to find out about the documents to be submitted.

In any case, you will need:

  • the notarized application for conversion of the adoption
  • the foreign judicial adoption decision (in the original or certified copy with translation)
  • the foreign adoption certificate (in the original or certified copy with translation)

Hint: As a rule, foreign documents must be accompanied by an "over-certification" by the competent foreign authority (apostille) or legalization by the German mission abroad.


  • You have accepted a child abroad.
  • The transformation into a strong adoption serves the best interests of the child.
  • The biological parents and the child have agreed to a strong adoption and thus to an end of the parent-child relationship.
  • The interests of the spouse or children of both parties do not preclude conversion into a strong adoption.

Related Links

  • § 3 Adoption Effects Act (AdWirkG)
  • § 5 Adoption Effects Act (AdWirkG)
  • Submit a notarized application for conversion to the family court at the district court.
  • The court examines the application and involves the locally competent youth welfare office and the central adoption office of the state youth welfare office during the proceedings.
  • If all the conditions are met, the court declares that the child receives the legal status of a child accepted in accordance with German substantive rules.
  • Your adopted child then has all the rights and obligations of a biological child and also receives German citizenship if you or your spouse are a German citizen.

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