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German Law/German Adoption of American child


My niece and her husband are both stationed in Germany with the US Air Force, she however is not on active duty due to health reasons, nor has she legally taken his last name. While stationed there she became pregnant and delivered her baby in a German hospital.
She is now saying that she has given the child to "another family to raise". Whether it is a German family or an American one, I do not know. The details she gives are very vague. The baby would have been at least 12 weeks old before she would have given her up.
My question is, assuming she is going by the law, whose law does she have to follow? German law because she is in Germany or US law because she in there with the US military?
Can a US citizen give a child up for adoption in Germany? Is there an time restriction concerning how long you have to decide whether to "give the baby up"?
Thank you for answering, this is all very distressing.

Hello Lauralie,

US citizens can of course give up children for adoption in Germany. I have handled such cases, just as the other way round, when I represented US parents who wanted to adopt in Germany.

In Germany, the applicable law is determined by the citizenship of the adopting parent (Art. 22 I EGBGB), so whether German or US (more specifically the home state of the parents) law applies depends on who is the supposed adoptive parent. Because we don't know that in the present case, we are only guessing now.

The release for adoption in Germany is possible 8 weeks after the birth ( 1747 BGB). There is no upward time or age limit. Both parents have to agree. Such an agreement cannot be rescinded later.

In Germany, an adoption has to go through the Family Court. Anything done without a court order is no legal adoption, it is not even a legal foster family. It is a private agreement and your niece and her husband could ask for the child to be returned at any time.

Once you get more details and have further questions, please include a link to this question to help me remember the case more easily.

Andreas Moser

German Law

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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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