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Applying to adopt and reversing (revoking) an adoption

This is a print of a page on Rechtspraak.nl. Look for the most up-to-date information on Rechtspraak.nl (http://www.rechtspraak.nl). This page is printed on 01-01-1970.

Do you want to become the legal parent of a Dutch child through adoption? Or would you like to have your adoption revoked? If so, you can apply to the relevant district court. When adopting a foreign child, legal proceedings are not always necessary.

The application procedures are governed by civil law. You must use the services of a lawyer.

Applying to adopt and reversing (revoking) an adoption

Who are the legal parents of a child? What is the procedure for an adoption application for a Dutch child? And what if it concerns a foreign child? How do you reverse an adoption?

Who are the legal parents of a child?

Through adoption, you become the legal parent of the child you adopt. Legal parents are the child’s family under the law. They do not have to be biologically related to the child (they do not have to be the procreators of the child; in other words, the child does not have to share their DNA).

NB: a child can never have more than two legal parents.

Who is the legal mother of a child?

Was the child conceived by way of artificial insemination via an unknown donor (according to the Human Fertilisation (Donor Information) Act [Wet donorgegevens kunstmatige bevruchting])? In that case, the woman whom the biological mother is married to or in a civil partnership with at the time of the birth, is also the child’s legal ‘duomoeder’ (mother’s female partner).

Who is the legal father of a child?

Applying to adopt a Dutch child: who can apply to adopt, and when?

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  • Before applying to adopt, you must have:

    • lived together for at least 3 years; and
    • cared for and raised the child together for at least 1 year.

    It does not matter if you are married to each other or not.

  • You can start a procedure if you have cared for and raised the child for at least 1 year.

  • Before applying to adopt, you must have:

    • lived with the legal parent for at least 3 years; and
    • cared for the child with that parent for at least 1 year.
  • Are you married to, or in a civil partnership with, the woman having the child?

    • If so: you are automatically the legal mother if the donor is unknown, according to the Human Fertilisation (Donor Information) Act.
    • If not: you can acknowledge the child as yours, or apply to adopt the child.

    This can be done before or after the child is born.

  • Are you the partner of someone who has adopted a child, and do you want to co-adopt (step-parent adoption)?

    This is possible if you have cared for and raised the child for an uninterrupted period of at least 1 year.



Applying to adopt a foreign child

No court involvement

If you adopt a child from abroad, an authority abroad will decide whether you meet the conditions for being an adoptive parent. That authority makes the decision on the adoption, which is often recognised automatically in the Netherlands. This is the case when the country of origin is a member of the Hague Adoption Convention.

You have then legally become the parent of the adopted child and do not have to go to court.

Court involvement

You must go to court in the Netherlands if:
  • a decision regarding adoption has not been made in the child’s country of origin; or
  • the foreign adoption decision is not automatically recognised in the Netherlands because the country of origin is not a party to the Hague Adoption Convention.

You must use the services of a lawyer for this application procedure. Different conditions apply to an acknowledgement of adoption than to an application to adopt. However, the steps in the procedure are the same.

Important: adoption does not automatically give you parental authority over the child. You must be a legal parent to be able to apply for parental authority over the child.

Reversing (revoking) an adoption

Were you adopted as a child, and do you want have your adoption reversed (revoked)? If you are 20, 21 or 22 years old, you can apply to the district court through a lawyer to have your adoption revoked.

Do you need a court stamp and signature on your adoption documents?
You can legalise your documents (in Dutch) at any district court in the Netherlands.


Interview with the child

In an adoption application procedure, the court requests children aged 12 to 18 by letter to attend an interview. The child’s conversation with the judge takes about 10 minutes. Parents and prospective adoptive parents are not allowed to attend. During the interview, the judge asks for the child’s opinion. The child is not obliged to attend, however. A letter may be sent instead.


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