What does adoption actually mean?

How does an adoption work?

How does the application work?

Couples who want to adopt a child in Germany must first contact an agency - the youth welfare office at the applicant's place of residence or a recognized independent agency - and complete an aptitude test. The specialists carefully check who is eligible as adoptive parents. The partners must be at least 25 or 21 years old. You should have been married for at least two years. There should also be a natural age difference between the child and the parents. If the applicants are older, the chances of having a child are reduced. However, there is no statutory upper age limit. In addition, numerous documents are required, such as a health certificate, proof of income, police clearance certificate, birth and marriage certificates and detailed résumés. While the aptitude test for domestic adoptions is free of charge, if a child is planned to be adopted from abroad, the youth welfare offices estimate 1200 euros for this. Independent agencies often ask for more.

Are we good parents?

Some applicants tremble before the youth welfare office makes their first home visit: Is the apartment big enough? Is it child-friendly and neat? These worries are mostly unfounded. "The important thing is that there is a child's room," explains Flynn. The future adoptive parents are not allowed to live on state benefits, but they don't have to be rich either, reassures the expert. Time and attention are the most important things for the child in the family. In discussions, the specialists also determine whether the partnership of the future adoptive parents is stable and what their conception of upbringing is and whether the child is willing to inform the child about the adoption and his or her origin - all of this is part of the aptitude test. The application process takes a few months.

The wait begins

If a couple is found suitable, nothing stands in the way of adoption. But now the long fear and waiting begins. Because there are currently around nine pairs of applicants for one child in Germany. In 2017, 3888 children were adopted, of which 3391 children had German and 497 foreign citizenship. However, more than 60 percent were stepparent adoptions, reports the Federal Statistical Office. "There is also no waiting list in the traditional sense," explains Flynn. "The most suitable parents are sought for each child. This results in different waiting times."

A child from another country

If a couple would like to adopt a child from abroad, there are a few special features to consider. Foreign adoptions are not possible from all countries. In addition, the future parents should first think about which country they want to adopt and be prepared to familiarize themselves with this country. You should know the customs and traditions, maybe even speak the language or have friends or relatives there, advises Claudia Flynn. Then the couple can apply to an international placement office. The expert warns against private adoptions on their own and against dubious intermediaries abroad. On the homepage of the Federal Central Agency for Abroad Adoption there is a list of all central adoption agencies as well as the state-recognized placement agencies and the countries of origin with which they cooperate.

The application process for an adoption abroad is initially the same as in Germany: Most placement agencies require a completed aptitude test at the youth welfare office. Sometimes it takes less time to find a child. Depending on the country of origin and the individual case, it can be five months to four years or more. However, there is no guarantee that an adoption will take place. The children envisaged for adoption abroad are usually three years and older, because parents are only looked for in their home country. The requirements that parents have to meet also differ from country to country. But international adoption is expensive: it costs around 20,000 to 30,000 euros in total. In addition to the aptitude test, which costs at least 1200 euros for planned adoptions from abroad, parents have to pay the placement fee in Germany of 800 to several thousand euros and the translation, certification and dispatch of the documents. Another cost factor are the flights and the stay in the country of origin.

The first time as a three

When the long-awaited call finally comes with the message that a child has been found, the adventure begins for three. In the case of domestic adoptions, there is time in the first year to sniff and get to know each other. Adoption care period is the technical term for this phase. The couple can only adopt the little one after a year in the case of infants and correspondingly longer in the case of older children. Before this point in time, it has the status of a foster child; it still belongs to the birth parents. In the case of adoptions abroad, this so-called "initiation phase" is usually shorter; depending on the country of origin, the parents often get to know the child in their home country for a period of around six months.

Different forms of adoption

There are three types of adoption: incognito, semi-open, and open adoption. With incognito adoption, the family of origin has no information about the adoptive parents and vice versa. In the case of a semi-open adoption, the adoptive and biological parents can write letters to each other via the youth welfare office or the adoption agency, and in the case of an open adoption they get to know each other personally.

Finally a real family

Father, mother, child - does a family make? It is not that simple with an adoption: Love needs time to grow. Because little people are very vulnerable and sensitive because they have already experienced the break in their relationship with their birth parents. "If possible, one parent should not work and should be there for the child," advises Flynn. During the first stress tests, the employees from the youth welfare office or the respective placement office are at your side. "If problems arise, adoptive parents should get in touch immediately," advises Flynn. It is clear that there can be difficulties: adoptive parents do not have to be better than other parents.