Procedure for applying to adopt or revoking an adoption

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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.

Procedure for applying to adopt or revoking an adoption

To adopt a Dutch child or to have an adoption revoked, you must apply to the district court. You only need to go to court in specific situations when adopting a foreign child.

 The procedure for apply to adopt / revoking an adoption comprises the following steps:

>Alles uitklappen
  • The adoption procedure at the district court starts with a written application. Your application must be substantiated and must be submitted through a lawyer.

    Informing relevant parties

    The judge determines who the relevant parties to the proceedings are. For example:

    • a mother who has given up her child for adoption;
    • the adoptive parents of a person who wants to have their adoption reversed.

    The court will inform the relevant parties of your application.

  • No hearing

    There is usually no hearing if:

    • all the conditions are met; and
    • the interested parent or adoptive parent has submitted a declaration of consent; and
    • the judge has no further questions.

    In all other cases, a hearing takes place. You will receive the decision via your lawyer, or handed personally to you at your home if you have not engaged the services of a lawyer.

    If there is a hearing

    The district court summons all the parties involved to attend a hearing. You will be notified where (location) and when (date and time) the hearing will take place. During the hearing, you will have the opportunity to put across your point of view orally.

    Not public

    Adoption hearings are not public. The district court determines whether experts or counsellors may attend. The district court sometimes requests a representative of the Child Care and Protection Board to attend the hearing.

    Interview with the child (for adoption of children aged between 12 and 18)

    In an adoption application procedure, the district 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.

  • The judge will issue a written decision after approximately 4 weeks. You will receive the decision through your lawyer. The judge can make different types of rulings:

    Application approved

    If the judge finds that the conditions for adoption or revocation have been met, they will approve the application.

    Application rejected

    The judge will reject the application if:

    • they deem that adoption is not possible;
    • the original parents object to the adoption and the judge cannot ignore such objections; or
    • the revocation of the adoption is not in the best interests of the adopted child.
  • Appeal

    Do you disagree with the judge's decision? If so, you can lodge an appeal with the Court of Appeal. This must be done by a lawyer within 3 months of the original judge's decision.
    Appeal (in Dutch)

    Judicial review

    If you subsequently disagree with the Court of Appeal's decision, you can apply to the Supreme Court for judicial review. This appeal must be lodged by a lawyer within 3 months.
    Application for judicial review (in Dutch)

 The interested party (defendant) may respond to the application in one of three ways:

>Alles uitklappen
  • If you, as an interested party, disagree with the adoption or revocation application, you can respond in writing or verbally (defence).

    Statement of defence

    You need a lawyer to file a statement of defence. In the statement of defence, you should make clear which parts of the application you disagree with and why. Your lawyer draws up the statement of defence and submits it to the district court. You have until the hearing to submit the statement of defence.

    Oral defence

    You can also conduct a purely oral defence during the hearing. You do not need a lawyer for this.

  • With a declaration of consent, you let it be known that you have no objection to the adoption/revocation application. You then declare that:

    • you have received the copy of the application; and
    • you are not submitting a statement of defence; and
    • you do not consider it necessary to be dealt with by way of a hearing.

    You will receive the declaration of consent form with the copy of the application. You do not need a lawyer for this.

  • Are you not responding at all to an adoption or revocation application? In that case, the judge will deal with the application without your input. You will then receive the judge's decision a few weeks later.


There are costs associated with this procedure. Depending on your situation, you pay the costs for your case to be dealt with by the court (court fees). You must also pay the services of your lawyer.

Processing time

The duration of procedure varies between from about 3 months to more than 1 year, depending on the complexity of the case.

Contact the Rechtspraak Service Centre

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