A Different System

A women who lives in Germany and hopes to adopt, shares how their system is different than the one in the United States where I live. She mentions that her father is adopted and that she is half American/half German.

The German system is totally different when compared to the US. There are no adoption agencies, everything goes through child services and you can’t “pick” a child, nor are you allowed to talk to the birth parents and make a deal with them. In order to adopt here, you have to go through about a year full of different evaluations.

First they come to do a house inspection, you have to prove your income and debts. Then, you have very intense sessions with the social workers where you share your childhood experiences and upbringing, explain why you want to adopt and whether you’ve resolved the reason you don’t already have children or have grieved about any infertility or lost children.

After that, you have a 2 day workshop with a psychiatrist, who must clear you as fit to adopt. You also have to be cleared by your doctor, to determine whether you have any type of mental or physical illness that would make you unfit to adopt or foster, as well as anything of concern that might cause an early death (ie cancer, etc).

After going through all of that, there is another house visit is made to check whether anything has changed. Then, if you make it that far, you get the ok from child services and are on an adoption list.

If a child is put up for adoption, child services goes through the list and chooses the best couple for the child. Fully open adoption are very uncommon in Germany but the birth parents can change their decision during the first year of surrendering their child.

One commenter noted – Sounds like Germany puts effort into vetting and preparing hopeful adoptive parents but do they put effort into maintaining family unit, family preservation, and supporting parents in crisis pregnancies to keep and parent their child ?

One wrote – I do applaud moms having a year to change their mind and get their child back. Is it actually that simple or does a judge have to approve in best interest case?

This was the reply – In Germany, child services does take a look at the mom to see if she is stable enough to take the child back. Germany has great ways of helping – so if she wants it, she will definitely get the help she needs. The main goal is to always keep the children with their birthparents and if not, at least in the family, if at all possible.

Someone else inquired – You don’t mention how the child came to be available for adoption. Where do the adoptable kids come from? Once adopted, are they issued fake birth certificates with the adoptive parents names listed?

The answer – there are different ways: there are “drop boxes” in hospitals. If a mother has her baby at home, she can take her baby to the drop box. The baby is put up for adoption after an 8 week waiting period, to see if the mother comes back to claim the child. If she comes back up, after the 8 weeks or within a year, the adoption will be reversed. The second option is that she has the baby in the hospital and uses a fake/anonymous name, then the hospital contacts child services, who will try to talk her into keeping her baby, but if she doesn’t want to. then the 1 year stage also starts. And the third option is that a pregnant woman goes directly to child services and says she wants to put her unborn child up for adoption. If she remains consistent in that desire, she can have a say in the type of adoptive parents she wants for her child. She is allowed to meet them in person but no personal information is exchanged – no last names, no addresses.

In Germany, once the child is officially adopted in court, the birth certificate is changed. The mother can leave her name and an address for the child to be given when the child reaches the age of 16. This is entirely the birth mother’s choice to do or not. The birth father also has the 1 year right to make a claim. In some cases, if the adoption is already finalized, he may only receive visitation rights but in some other cases, the adoption is reversed and the father receives custody of the child. A judge makes that decision based on the child’s welfare and the father’s life. 

There is a law in Germany that child services remains in contact with the family until the adopted child’s 18th birthday. The child always knows they were adopted and that fact is not kept secret.

It is noted that –  the German adoption system will not lessen or alleviate adoptee separation trauma any more than the US system. All adoptees should deeply process all aspects of their adoption and realize whatever negative impacts they may be affected by. This is described as absolutely life changing and a gift by those adoptees who have. It does appear that adoption is not nearly as common in Germany as it is not the multi-billion dollar industry there that it is in the United States.

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