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Consent to adoption

Adoption is the establishment of legal ties between two persons who are not blood-related, one of them usually a child deprived of parental care. Through adoption, one or two persons become legal parents of a child, permanently acquiring all the corresponding rights and responsibilities. Usually, adoption has to be declared by a judicial body.


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Key aspects

  • The child’s consent to be adopted is required from the age of 12 years in eleven Member States (Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Latvia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden).
  • In the Netherlands, however, this rule does not apply to inter-country adoption. In Finland, adoption may not be granted against the will of a child aged less than 12 years, if they are considered mature enough. In Denmark, between 12 and 18 years, both the consent of the child and of the parents are required. Under specific circumstances, this is also the case in other Member States.
  • The child’s consent is required from the age of 10 years in Estonia, Lithuania and Romania, from 11 years in Malta, from 13 in France and Poland, from 14 in Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Italy and from 15 in Luxembourg.
  • In Cyprus and Slovakia it depends on the maturity of the child. In Slovenia, this will be the case from 15 April 2019.
  • The consent of the child is never requested in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In the latter, the judge has to take the child’s wishes and feelings into account. In Scotland, however, from the age of 12 years, the consent of the child is required.
  • In several countries, the views of a child below the age threshold have to be considered if the child is mature enough.
  • Only the Netherlands provide for a different regulation between inter-country and in-country adoptions, not asking for the child’s consent in cases of adoptions from abroad.

The data explorer also provides information on the age at which a child has the right to be heard in adoption cases.

Comparison with the age requirements for the right to be heard in adoption cases

  • The age of consent and the age as of which the child has the right to be heard in adoption cases are the same in nine Member States (Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Malta, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and Sweden).
  • In twelve Member States, the child has the right to be heard without a specific minimum age (Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, France, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia).
  • In three Member States, the minimum age for the child’s right to be heard is not regulated, while the age of required consent is (14 years in Hungary, and 18 years in Ireland and the United Kingdom). In Cyprus, the right to be heard is not regulated, while the age of consent depends on the child’s maturity.
  • In two Member States, the minimum age for the child’s right to be heard is expressly lower than the age of consent: Bulgaria (10 and 12 years respectively) and Italy (12 and 14 years). In Slovenia, the right to be heard is set at 10 years, while the age of consent depends on the child’s maturity.

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Publication date: 19 October 2018

Minimum age requirements concerning children's rights in the EU - Specific data on social rights, employment, education, alternative care, LGBTI and mobility (406.5 KB)