Under Belgian law, anyone who wishes to adopt a child – whether a domestic adoption from within Belgium (usually in the case of a step-parent adoption his/her partner’s child(ren), or an international adoption – needs to follow certain preparatory steps.

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Adoption is managed by each of the three communities in Belgium.

If you live in:

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Domestic adoption

Most domestic adoption cases involves a person adopting the children of his/her partner/spouse.

The relevant agency according to which part of Belgium you live in, can provide you with all the details of the necessary steps, some of which are the same as for international adoptions (see below).

International adoption

The procedure to adopt a child from abroad includes the following steps:

  • Request to adopt – contact the relevant community to inform them of your wish to adopt a child from abroad.
  • Preparation course – this includes information about the procedures and about the legal consequences of adoption (e.g. on rights and obligations, inheritance etc).

    The preparation course also looks at what an adoption means for the parents and the child, on an emotional and psychological level as well as practical.

    At the end of the course, you will receive a certificate confirming that you have followed the course.
  • Judgement of your aptitude to adopt: to receive a positive judgement, you need to make a request to the ‘youth court’ (tribunal de la jeunesse). The judge then arranges for some checks to be carried out, looking into your current family situation, your legal capacity, your identity etc. If the checks are positive, the judge will declare you suitable to adopt a child.

    This judgement remains valid for four years.

    If the adoption procedure takes longer than this, you can ask for it to be extended by two years.
  • Handling of the adoption: once you have received a positive judgement of your aptitude to adopt a child, this is sent to the adoption organisation of your choice.

    This agency:

    • helps you put together your dossier;
    • transmits it to the authorities in the country from which you wish to adopt a child; and
    • receives the details of the child that is proposed for adoption, and informs you of this.
  • Adoption decision in the child’s country of origin: The adoption is confirmed by a judgement or administrative decision in the country in which you adopt the child.

    Note that all documents received in the country of adoption need to be legalised by the Belgian diplomatic presence in that country.
  • Recognition and registration of the foreign adoption decision by the central federal authority: The International Adoption service of the Justice ministry needs to recognise and register all decisions of foreign adoptions.
  • Registration of your adopted child at the commune: The adoption procedure ends with your child being registered at the commune where you live.

    This registration is based on the registration attestation you receive from the Justice ministry.

Support and advice

The Brussels Childbirth Trust has an ‘Adoptive parents’ support group for anyone who has adopted or is considering adoption.

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