Navigating citizenship matters in France is already complex. If you are a French citizen living abroad and you are wondering how your adopted child can become a French national, this article is for you.
What is the difference between Plenary and Simple Adoption?
Before diving into the process, let's focus on some key concepts. France recognizes two types of adoption: Plenary Adoption ("adoption plénière") and Simple Adoption ("adoption simple"). In Plenary Adoption, the child becomes the legal child of the adoptive parents, severing ties with their biological parents. All rights and responsibilities, including inheritance rights, are transferred. In Simple Adoption, while the adoptive parents assume certain rights and responsibilities, the child maintains relations to their biological family. The child often retains their original birth name, keeps inheritance rights in both families and the relationship with their adoptive parents is revocable.
Pathways to French Nationality
The path your child takes to acquire French nationality depends on the type of adoption recognized in your home country.
- Plenary Adoption: you will need to verify the validity of the foreign adoption decision in France through a process called "transcription" in the French civil status register. A request is sent to the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Judicial Tribunal Court of Nantes. After ensuring that this decision is valid under French international public policy and wasn't obtained fraudulently, the prosecutor will instruct the Central Civil Status Service (Service central de l’état civil) to register the foreign decision in their records. This transcription serves as a birth certificate and enables you to apply for a French passport for the child.
Note: Consult a professional for the list of required documents as it can vary depending on if the foreign adoption decision was pronounced in a country part of the La Haye Convention or not, if you are residing in France or not, and if you adopted your step child or not.
- Simple Adoption: if the adoption in your home country is recognized as a Simple Adoption, you will need to go through the declaration for your adopted child to acquire the French nationality. The adopted child must be under the age of 18 years on the day of the declaration and one of the parents adopting must be a French citizen at the date of the adoption. If you live in France, the request should be addressed to the Director of the Registry Services of the Judicial court of your residence, and if you live abroad, to the closest French Consulate. Please note that if the adoptee reached the legal age of 18 years old, they can always become French by naturalization if they respect certain conditions.
-Other paths: if the Procureur denies your transcription you can always choose the exequatur or appeal the decision.
Becoming French through adoption involves navigating legal procedures that can be complex. Depending on the type of adoption and your situation, you might need professional advice to ensure a smooth process for your child's French nationality journey.
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