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Legal status of adoption in Europe

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In Denmark, Germany,[1] "stepchild-adoption" is permitted, so that the partner in a civil union can adopt the natural (or sometimes even adopted) child of his or her partner. In the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Hungary and some other countries, there is a universal adoption policy, meaning anyone judged to be capable of providing a healthy stable family home, whether straight, LGBT, married, single, cohabiting or unmarried, may apply for adoption. Same-sex couples may also foster children in the Republic of Ireland as there is a dire need for foster parents. Same-sex couples may also foster children in Finland, but the most cases are step-child fostering cases (step-child adoption of same sex couples is illegal).

In February 2006, France's Court of Cassation ruled that both partners in a same-sex relationship can have parental rights over one partner's biological child. The result came from a case where a woman tried to give parental rights of her two daughters to her partner whom she was in a civil union with.[2] In February 2007, France's highest court ruled against a lesbian couple who tried to adopt a child. The court stated that the woman's partner cannot be recognized unless the birth mother withdraws parental rights. The court ruling dismissed the couple's rights to co-parent the child, and stated the only way it could allow adoption would be to legalize same-sex marriage.[3] In the same case the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the lesbian couple have the right to adopt a child.

On June 2, 2006 the Icelandic Parliament voted for a proposal accepting adoption, parenting and assisted insemination treatment for same-sex couples on the same basis as heterosexual couples. No member of the parliament voted against the proposal. The law went into effect on June 27, 2006.

In 2007 UK Catholic adoption agencies, comprising around a third of the voluntary sector, have said they will shut if forced to comply with new government legislation requiring them to enlist same-sex couples as potential adoptive parents. The government announced they will have to obey the law, although MP Ruth Kelly allowed them some extra time to comply.

European Union’ laws on adoption by same-sex couples
State LGBT individual may petition to adopt Same-sex couple may jointly petition Same-sex partner may petition to adopt partner’s child
Belgium Yes Yes Yes
Finland Yes No No
Italy No No No
Netherlands Yes Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes (restrictions on international adoption) Yes
Spain Yes Yes Yes
Sweden Yes Yes Yes
United Kingdom Yes Yes Yes
Latvia No No No
Poland Yes No No
Republic of Ireland Yes No (although same-sex partner may foster) No (although fostering allowed)


  1. LSVD
  2. CBS News | France Broadens Gays' Parental Rights
  3. French high court rejects same-sex adoption - Queer Lesbian Gay Election News -

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