Adopting a Child in Spain

1. Overview

Adoption is irrevocable. The child who is adopted inmediately becomes descendant of the persons who adopted him/her.

The best interest of the child should always be taken into consideration when thinking about adoption.

Adoption is only granted through a motivated judicial dictum.

Parental obligations and rights between the biological parents and the child adopted are terminated when the adoption is finalized.

Live-in couples have the right to adopt a child in Spain.

2. Requirements

If you are a Spanish resident, you may file your petition for adoption before the Spanish courts.

The petitioner must meet the following requirements:

  • Be in full possession of civil rights (to be legally capable).
  • One of the adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age and,
  • One of the adoptive parents must be, at least 14 years older than the adopted person.

Which persons are not entitled to adopt:

  • The father and mother who have been deprived of the custody of their children, or the persons who have been removed from a custody or guardian charge.
  • The tutor in respect of his or her pupil, until the final accounting of the tutelage has been approved.

3. Requirements

Only non-emancipated minors may be adopted. Exceptionally, it is possible to adopt an emancipated minor, had the minor cohabited ceaselessly with the parent to be willing to adopt, before the adopted has turned 14 years of age or if the adopted has been in a situation of pre-adoptive asylum.

Any of the following circumstances must be complied with in order to be able to adopt a child:

  • If the biological parents of the child have been deprived of custody by the judge.
  • If the biological parents of the child give their consent for the adoption. In case of a newborn child, the biological parents must give their consent, at least, 30 days after the date of birth.
  • If the minor had been abandoned and the identity of the parents were unknown. If the child was abandoned at the time of birth, the minor may be adopted after 30 days, provided that the mother did not attend him within that period of time.

Who cannot be adopted?

  • Descendants, e.g. A grandfather may not adopt his grandchildren.
  • Relatives in the second degree of the collateral line of consanguinity or affinity.

4. Adoption Proceedings

All types of adoption require previous court proceedings.

The first step to adopt an individual is to file a proposal for adoption at the competent Spanish institution (Servicio de Protección de Menores) of the Spanish Autonomous Community of your choice.

Some documents such as the birth certificate of the persons who are willing to adopt, their respective criminal records, their tax returns etc; should be attached to the said proposal.

The institution will review the suitability of the person or persons who are willing to adopt and will issue a certificate accepting the eligibility of the applicants to adopt a minor.

The institution will issue the previous proposal for adoption, which must contain the reasoned suitability of the person or persons who are willing to adopt, together with their personal, social, familiar and economic circumstances, as well as their last domicile.

This proposal will be sent to the Spanish judge, who must determine whether to accept or not the adoption of the child.

You will not have to file a previous proposal if you file your petition for adoption directly before the judge, in the following cases:

  • Adoption of orphans and relatives of the adopting party in the third degree of consanguinity or affinity.
  • Adoption of the child of the spouse.
  • When the child is under the tutelage of the person willing to adopt or was granted asylum status more than a year ago.
  • When the adopted is an emancipated minor individual or an adult.
    If the children is 12 years of age or older, the judge will hear their opinion with respect to the petition for their adoption.

Although adoption is irrevocable, notwithstanding, the judge may decide, in the best interest of the adopted person, the termination of the adoption, on the grounds that the biological parents could not take part in the adoption proceedings, for reasons not attributable to them. They are entitled to revoke the adoption within 2 years since it was finalized.

It is strongly advisable that you have a Spanish lawyer handling your application, as they know the ins and outs of the paperwork.

5. International Adoptions

The relevant agency (Servicio de Protección de Menores) from each Spanish Autonomous Community will make it easier the petitions for adoption of children located abroad.

If you are willing to adopt a non-Spanish child, keep in mind that you will have to move to the minor’s country of origin to pick him up .

6. Adoption Agencies

Adoption agencies are official organisations entitled to take part in adoption procedures with a mediation duty. These agencies provide with information to the persons willing to adopt and take part in adoption proceedings before the Spanish and foreign authorities.

The agencies must be non-profit making organisations, legally set up.

7. Adoption by Same-Sex Couples

Spanish law does not recognize the right of same-sex couples to adopt children, however, it is legally provided that minors may be adopted by only one person, and thus these couples are indirectly entitled to adopt children each individually.

However, if one of the partners who had a biological child dies, it is not guaranteed that the orphan child may still live with the surviving partner.


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