By May 7, 2010 5 Comments Read More →

Getting started in France

The good news about adopting through the French system is the process takes 9 months from the day you send in your paperwork until you have your approval (an agrément).  Completing the process has varying degrees of difficulty, depending on your level of French, your location and the sympathy of the social worker/psychologist team you are assigned.

If you think you will adopt through the French system, translate all your official documents into French now. If there are any irregularities in your documents, get letters of explanation from officials whenever possible and have these translated as well. The more possible glitches you anticipate now, the more time you’ll save later and the smoother the process will be.

Here’s how to begin the process in France:

  1. Write a letter explaining that you would like to adopt a child and address it to the President of the Conseil Général in your region (Monsier le Président will suffice). Send it to the Conseil Général ‘s service de l’aide social à l’enfance et à la famille, Section Adoption in your region. In Paris, this is still handled by the direction departmentale des Affaires sanitaires et sociales (DDASS) and your letter should be addressed to them. The letter doesn’t have to be too detailed, but it should tell them a little about yourself and your situation. Send this and everything else you mail priority mail, signature required (recommandée avec accusé de réception).
  2. Order an extrait de casier judiciarebulletin number 3. This is a criminal background check that proves you have no criminal record. You should also order police checks from your country of birth or your last place of residence if you were there for a substantial amount of time. These can’t be older than 3 months, but it usually takes a while for them to arrive so it’s best to plan ahead and save time later.
  3. Within a few weeks of sending your letter to the Conseil Général, you’ll receive an invitation to attend a general meeting. At this meeting you will recieve a packet of information and forms to fill out (“demande d’ agrement en vue d’adoption“). These documents will ask for details about your life, including family size, finances, living arrangements, etc.
  4. Make an appointment with a doctor from the list given to you at the meeting. You will need a certificate verifying that you are fit to adopt. Note that this must be done by a doctor approved by the Conseil Général.
  5. Fill out the demande d’ agrement en vue d’adoption completely and provide as many details as possible. Do you know what country you want to adopt from (not necessary to be specific immediately, but it’s a good time to narrow your choices)? How old a child/children do you want to adopt? Will you consider siblings?
  6. Write a letter explaining why you want to adopt and why you believe you would make good parents. This letter should be written from the heart and should give them some insight about who you are and what your situation is. If you have fertility issues, tell them in the letter. If you’ve always wanted to adopt, include this with an explanation.
  7. These documents must be included in the packet you send back:
  • A picture of every family member
  • Birth certificates of everyone in the family (translated)
  • Copies of your identity cards (passport, carte de sejour or drivers license)
  • Extrait de casier judiciare–bulletin number 3 (less than 3 months old)
  • The medical certificates (less than 3 months old)
  • Financial records including last few pay stubs, and tax records (bulletin de salaire avis d’imposition).
  • A short letter confirming (again) that you want to adopt a child.
  • A copy of your livret de famille, if you have one.

Make sure you make a copy of everything before you send it and always mail it recommandée avec accusé de réception.

Now put the copies in a big folder and the waiting game begins. It’s difficult to estimate how long it will take before you will be assigned a team and your first appointment is scheduled. Eventually you will receive a letter in the mail telling you who has been assigned to your case and when your first appointment is. Don’t worry if this takes a few months, it took 60 days before we received a letter and then another two months before we had our first appointment.

In the next post I’ll explain what happens next.

direction départementale des Affaires sanitaires et sociales

Posted in: Paperwork, Process

5 Comments on "Getting started in France"

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  1. Cathy says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for sharing your story – do you think it is a disadvantage if we don’t speak French fluently or can we work with a translator for the details? We live in France and are learning the language but doubt we will be able to hold stressful, detailed conversations that will do us justice!


  2. Lisa says:

    Hi Cathy,
    You can work with a translator if necessary. We muddled through on our own and our French wasn’t very good when we started. I think it depends on the social work team. Good luck and let me know if I can be of any help.

  3. Louise says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Thanks so much for all the information on your site. I’ve just stumbled across you today. I’m Irish and living in France – always interesting to hear others’ perspectives on my country! I know how ridiculously slow our civil service can be! I contacted them about adopting through Ireland and was told that we’d have to be resident for that – and if we were we’d have no jobs and blah blah blah; so might be better off where we are. We’ve talked about adopting since we met 12 years ago. Now in our 30s we’re ready to start the process. My GP said the process is long and difficult here and that since we’re not French we’d find ourselves having more hoops to jump through. She told me about a family in the area who’ve been struggling through the system for over two years now. Like everyone else before us and after, we hope we’ll be approved and it will conclude with a happy ending: us and a child to complete our little family.

    I won’t officially start the process until we’re married – or would you recommend to get going regardless? We’ll be married this summer. I’ll start the background checks anyway.

    Thanks again for your site and any help or information you have,


  4. Lisa says:

    Hi Louise,
    What department are you in in France? I’m in 06 and the process was pretty straightforward. We didn’t have to do anything differently than French people who wanted to adopt. I have heard, however, that a lot depends on where you live in France and the social workers that you are assigned. The process should take around a year to get approval to adopt.
    You can contact your Conseil Général to ask if you can begin the process before your marriage this summer. Let me know if I can be any help and good luck with everything.

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