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Obtain access to the adoption file

If, as an adopted child, you would like to find out about your family background, you must contact the adoption agency that arranged your adoption. As a rule, these agencies belong to the youth welfare offices, but there are also adoption agencies run by independent organizations, such as churches.

The specialists at your placement agency will let you inspect the files, support you in your research and are available to answer any questions you may have.

It is not possible for you to inspect the files if this conflicts with the overriding personal interests of the persons involved.

In individual cases, the adoption agency can make every effort to ensure that your biological parents and siblings can also inspect the files. However, relatives from your family of origin do not have a right to inspect the files.

The register of births is kept by the registry office responsible for a person's place of birth.

A long retention period for adoption files was only introduced at the beginning of 2002. If the adoption took place a long time ago, there may no longer be any placement files.

If the adoption took place before 1977, no adoption agency was involved. At that time, a notarized contract was sufficient, which had to be confirmed by the local court. In this case, you may be able to find out more by asking the court involved.

Process flow

If you are an adopted person and would like to inspect your placement file, please contact the relevant adoption agency directly:

  • Before a personal visit, you should make a telephone inquiry and arrange an appointment.
  • The responsible adoption agency will give you and your custodial parents access to the files on the placement of your adoption, insofar as this is possible in individual cases.
  • The specialists will inform you about your background and living situation, provided they have the relevant information and this does not conflict with the interests of other people.

Competent authority

  • The adoption agency that carried out the adoption
  • the registry office at the place of birth


  • If you would like to view the mediation files:
    • You are
      • have been adopted and are at least 16 years old or
      • Parents, have adopted your child and have custody of your child
  • If you would like to receive information or documents from the registry office:
    • You can apply for documents from the civil status register at the registry office:
      • Parents who have adopted their child,
      • their parents,
      • legal representatives of the child and
      • the child itself, who is at least 16 years old.
    • After the death of the child, information can also be obtained from the civil status register:
      • other persons to whom the register entry relates (i.e. the biological parents) and
      • their spouses, life partners, ancestors and descendants.
  • Other persons have a right of access if they can credibly demonstrate a legal interest.

Which documents are required?

  • Proof of identity through
    • identity card,
    • passport or
    • similar document

What are the fees?

There are no costs for viewing the adoption mediation file.

The fees for the activities of a registry office are regulated by state law and therefore vary from state to state.

What deadlines do I have to pay attention to?

There are no deadlines.

Applications / forms

Forms available: No
Written form required: No
Informal application possible: Yes
Personal appearance necessary: No

Online services available: No


  • Action before the administrative court if the adoption agency of a youth welfare office refuses to inspect files or provide information from the civil status register
  • Action before the local court if the adoption agency of an independent organization - such as a church - refuses to grant access to files

Technically approved by

Federal Ministry of Justice (BMJ)

Professionally released on



The text was automatically translated based on the German content.

Source: Serviceportal Niedersachsen (Portalverbund des Bundes und der Länder)