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DenmarkOfficial Name: Denmark Last Updated: January 1, 2012
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Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes
Hague Convention Information
Denmark is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore all adoptions between Denmark and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
There are few children eligible for intercountry adoption from Denmark, with a long waiting list of Danish prospective adoptive parents. While legally possible, intercountry adoption of a Danish orphan by foreigners is unlikely. No Danish orphans have received U.S. immigrant visas in the past five fiscal years. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in rare adoption cases from Denmark, including adoptions of Danish children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Denmark.
Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and Denmark is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Denmark, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more on Who Can Adopt.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Denmark also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents.
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: Adoptive parents must be legally admitted residents of Denmark to adopt domestically or intercountry. Temporary visitors without an established home in Denmark cannot apply.
- AGE REQUIREMENTS: The age difference between the applicant and the prospective child should not be more than 40 years, and the adoptive pareents must be at least 25 years old.
- MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: Married couples and same sex couples who have entered into a registered partnership must adopt as a couple. In addition, couples must be married and have lived in the same household for at least 2½ years. Single people can also adopt.
- HEALTH REQUIREMENTS: The physical and psychological health of the applicants must meet certain criteria.
- INCOME AND PROPERTY REQUIREMENTS: The prospective adoptive parents must be of proper financial standing and their home must be suitable to house a child.
- CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK: The applicants cannot have a criminal record that would make them unfit to become adoptive parents.
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Denmark is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Denmark must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Denmark attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Denmark's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
How To Adopt
Denmark's Adoption Authority
Danish Ministry of Justice
Department of Family Law
The Danish Ministry of Justice is the adoption law-making branch of the Danish government and is also the Central Authority for the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. The local Joint Council of the Regional State Administration serves as the regional adoption authority. Joint Councils are established at the five Regional State Administrations (Statsforvaltning) in Denmark. The Regional State Administration mainly concentrates on family issues: divorce, child custody, maintenance, etc.
Because Denmark is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Denmark must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements:
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Denmark
- Bring your Child Home
Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Denmark is to select an adoption service provider that has been accredited. Private adoption agencies are accredited by the Danish Ministry of Justice, Department of Family Affairs to provide adoption services. The Department certifies adoption agencies and monitors their work to ensure that they comply with the law. In special circumstances such as relative adoptions, the Danish Central authority can allow the adoption to take place without the assistance of an adoption agency.
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Read more about Eligibility Requirements.
Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Denmark. Denmark's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Danish law. More information on this process is available in Section 5, entitled "Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in-Denmark."
Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Denmark determine that you are eligible to adopt, and if a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Denmark may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities.
If the Consular Officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States he or she will send a letter (an “Article 5 Letter”) to Denmark Central Authority. Do not adopt or obtain custody of a child in Denmark before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Denmark:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Denmark, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Denmark.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Denmark generally includes the following:
ROLE OF THE REGIONAL STATE
ADMINISTRATION: Prospective adoptive parents file
their initial application with the local Joint Council of
the Regional State Administration in the jurisdiction
where they reside. A Joint Council consists of three
members - a social worker, a lawyer, and a medical
officer. The Joint Council determines whether the initial
application for adoption may be approved for further
processing. A complete list of Joint Councils can be found
The Danish National Board of Adoption supervises the Joint Councils, observes national and international developments in adoption matters, collects information concerning adoption, negotiates with authorities and organizations in other countries, and supplies general information. Decisions reached by the Joint Councils may be appealed to the Danish National Board of Adoption at:
Domestic adoptions in Denmark are processed via the five Regional State Administrations in the jurisdiction where the prospective parents reside. Prospective adoptive parents file an application with the Joint Council of their Regional State Administration. The application is processed in three phases. For more detailed information, please visit the web site for the Danish National Board of Adoption, http://www.adopt.dk, and click on “English Language Version.”
- The first phase determines whether the applicants meet the general eligibility requirements for adoptive parents. Applicants cannot proceed to phase two without approval by the Joint Council.
- The second phase is a pre-adoption counseling training program, mandatory for all applicants who have not previously adopted a child. The purpose of the training is to supply applicants with information concerning different aspects of adoption, and to provide a basis for the applicants themselves to determine whether or not they possess the necessary resources (financial as well as parenting abilities) to adopt a child. The training course runs over a weekend and a half (one weekend session, followed by one Saturday or Sunday session). Participation in a pre-adoption training program costs Danish Kroner 2,500 (approximately USD 450).
- The third phase includes one or more interviews with the secretariat of the Joint Council. At the end of the third phase, a home study report is presented to the Joint Council for final decision and approval. The prospective parents proceed by submitting their approval to one of the Danish government-authorized adoption agencies.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: The Regional State Administration is responsible for issuing the Adoption Certificate, and finalizing the adoption. According to Danish law, the adopted child has the same rights as a biological child.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Adoption agencies are accredited by the Danish government to provide adoption services.
- TIME FRAME: From the initial contact with the Joint Council at the Regional State Administration until the adoptive parents can be united with the child, the time frame is on average 35 months.
ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services
contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption
process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated
expenses related to your adoption process.
Domestic adoptions of Danish children are free of charge. The cost of an intercountry adoption (adopting a child in a third country and then taking him or her to Denmark to reside) can be high, often ranging between USD 20,000 – 30,000 depending on the country of the child’s origin. Travel expenses must be added to this amount. Once the adoption has been finalized, the adoptive parents are entitled to a Danish Government lump-sum relief benefit to help reduce their overall expenses.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The initial
application form, which can be obtained from the Regional
State Administration (Statsforvaltning), must be
accompanied by the following documents: birth certificate,
marriage certificate, latest tax return, and certificate
of health. An application to participate in the
pre-adoption counseling program must be filed with the
Department of Family Affairs, Office of Training Programs.
If the applicants wish to continue the process after they
complete the counseling program, a third application must
be filed to start phase three.
In the case of an adoption from a third country, when the child arrives in Denmark from his or her country of origin (after that country's adoption procedures have been completed), the adoptive parents must apply to the Regional State Administration for an Adoption Certificate. With the Adoption Certificate, the adoption is finalized, and pursuant to Danish law, the adopted child has the same rights as a biological child.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, read more on Traveling Abroad to learn about authenticating U.S. Documents.
- ROLE OF THE REGIONAL STATE ADMINISTRATION: Prospective adoptive parents file their initial application with the local Joint Council of the Regional State Administration in the jurisdiction where they reside. A Joint Council consists of three members - a social worker, a lawyer, and a medical officer. The Joint Council determines whether the initial application for adoption may be approved for further processing. A complete list of Joint Councils can be found at http://www.statsforvaltning.dk
Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
In Denmark, birth certificates are issued by the local Parish (Danish State Church) Registration Offices (Kirkekontor.) Adoptive parents present their Adoption Certificate to the Registrar (Kordegn) in their area of residence, who in turn will issue the Danish birth certificate with the names of the child and the adoptive parents.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Denmark.
Application for a Danish passport is filed with the Citizens Services Office (Borgerservice) in the area of the adoptive parents' residence. Both adoptive parents must sign the application and submit the child's Danish birth certificate and a photo of the child. A list of local passport photographers may be obtained from the Citizens Services Office (Borgerservice). Processing time is approximately two weeks.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the consular officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child. Read more about the Medical Examination. For questions on the U.S. immigrant visa process, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen at CopenhagenIV@state.gov.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Denmark. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print-all in one place.
Obtaining Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you might also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Denmark, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Denmark, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Denmark require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Denmark does not require post-adoption or post-placement reports.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Denmark
Dag Hammarskjolds Alle 24
Tel: +45-3341 7100
Fax: +45-3538 9616
Web site: https://dk.usembassy.gov/
Denmark's Adoption Authority
Danish Ministry of Justice
Department of Family Law
Tel: +45-7268 8000
Fax: +45-7268 8001
Web site: http://www.familiestyrelsen.dk
Danish Accredited Adoption Agencies
TEL: +45-8612 6522
Fax: +45-8619 7853
TEL: +45-4581 6333
Fax: +45-4581 7482
Royal Danish Embassy
3200 Whitehaven Street NW
Washington, DC 20008-3683
Tel: (202) 234-4300
Fax: (202) 328-1470
Denmark also has Consulates General in Chicago and New York City.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)