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Adoption in Spain is a legal process that follows very strict rules in order to protect the welfare of the child. Law 26/2015, of 28 de July introduced several requirements for parents requesting adoption and the adopted child, both nationally and internationally. Any person who is a resident in Spain, whether Spanish or a foreigner, can apply to adopt. Compared to other European countries the process is slightly easier and thus many couples all over Europe elect to take up residence in Spain for few years with the objective of adopting a child.

From a legal point of view the adoption process is long and complicated. In Spain a child can be adopted when he is abandoned, the parents are known and have authorized the adoption or if the parents are losing the parental authority. In many cases this leads to a situation where there are children in reception centres cannot be adopted and their status there is merely temporary, so the families can only have the possibility of receiving the minors in kinship foster care.

Legal Requirements for any kind of adoption (national or international)

The adoption process is regulated by the competence of the autonomous communities and the process might change from place to place in Spain. Nevertheless, there are several basic requirements to be met:

  •          The adoptee age needs to be under 18 years old.
  •          One of the adopting parents must be over 25 years old.
  •          Both parents are more than 14 years older than the adopted child.
  •          The couple has been considered suitable for parenting by the social services of the autonomous community where the couple is resident. For this a suitability certificate and a psychological report will be required, both drafted by a team of social workers and psychologists. The reports from the team will cover aspects related to the maturity of the couple, its motivation for adopting a child, financial situation or cultural aspects related to the country they want to adopt from, for example.
  •          Depending on the autonomous regions the mother should not be more than 40 years old for very young children.

The child’s country of origin may require additional conditions (in China, the parents have to be more than 30 years old, in Guatemala or the Philippines an ecclesiastic document certifying that the couple is married by the Catholic Church will be needed).

Length of the adoption process

Couples looking to adopt a child need be aware to that the process will be long. Length can vary from 6 to 24 months or several years depending on the country, and  requirements from the parents with preferences for ethnicity, age or gender of the child. Bear in mind adoption of the second child is quicker compared to the first one.

The adoption Procedure.

In Spain Judges, grant adoption orders, after the Autonomous Regions declare suitable to the adopters, plus in international adoptions (depending on the country of the child), it might require trips and additional interviews with the foreign authorities.

The documents required to initiate the process can vary across regions but in general you and your partner will need a birth certificate, the marriage certificate (for a married couple), medical certificates, a certificate attesting the absence of criminal records and a certificate certifying your level of income. All the documents must be translated into Spanish by an official translator and have an Apostille.

Once the adoption order is granted becomes permanent, having the adoptee the same rights as birth children.


The adoption process in Spain is complex, even though it has to be said that it is simpler than in countries like the UK and Denmark. Most families follow the process through registered agencies in the town where they live. It is also recommended to get the assistance of a Spanish lawyer specialized in international Family law and international adoption procedures. This will certainly make the process easier.