Adoption

Adoption Act N°130/1999

ADOPTION ACT No. 130/1999
with amendments

Chapter I

Adoptions and legal requirements in respect thereof

Article 1

Permission for adoption.

District Commissioners grant permission for adoptions. The Minister may decide that one single District Commissioner will grant permissions according to Chapters II to VI of this Act.

Article 2

Who can adopt.

A married couple or individuals who have been cohabiting for a period of at least five years shall jointly take part in the adoption process, as only these persons may jointly adopt children, subject to any exemptions provided in this Article.

One of the spouses, or one of the individuals in a cohabitation, may, however, with the consent of the other, be granted permission to adopt the child or the adopted child of the other.

One of the spouses, or an individual who is in a cohabitation, may, furthermore, be granted permission for adoption if the other one has disappeared or is in such a mental state as not to understand the meaning of adoption.

A single person may be granted permission for adoption under special circumstances and if the adoption is clearly beneficial for the child.

For the purposes of this Act, cohabitation means a cohabitation of two persons which is registered in the population register or which may be ascertained by other unequivocal evidence.

Article 3

Who can be adopted.

This Act applies to the adoption of children under the age of 18. It also applies to the adoption of older persons unless otherwise stipulated and as applicable. The term child in this Act means a child up to the age of 18.

A person may not adopt his biological child unless the child has previously been adopted and the adoption by the biological parent is considered to improve the circumstances of the child.

Article 4

General conditions for adoption.

A permission for adoption may only be granted if it is deemed evident, following upon an investigation by the relevant Child Protection Committee, into the affairs of the prospective adopted child and those desiring to adopt, that this is in the best interest for the child. Furthermore, it shall be the intention of the adopting parties to take care of and bring up the child or the person who is to be adopted has been brought up with them or there are other special reasons for adoption.

Article 5

The age of the applicant.

A permission for adoption will only be granted to a person who has reached the age of 25 years. However, should special circumstances apply, a person who has reached the age of 20 may be granted permission for adoption.

Article 6

Consent of the person to be adopted.

An individual who has reached 12 years of age may not be adopted without his or her consent, provided that his or her mental state is not such as to prevent the expression of a valid consent or if it is deemed questionable to seek his or her approval due to his or her interests.

Before a child consents to an adoption in accordance with paragraph 1, a discussion shall be had with him or her on behalf of the relevant Child Protection Committee and guidance on adoption and its legal effects shall be provided.

If the child who is to be adopted is younger than 12 years of age, his or her opinion to the prospective adoption shall be sought, as described in paragraph 2, if it is deemed possible, taking into consideration the child's age and maturity.

Article 7

Consent of the custodian of the child or a legal guardian.

The consent of parents, who have the custody of a child, is required for the adoption of the child.

If either parent, who has the custody of the child, is in such a mental state as to be unable to give a valid consent or if he or she has disappeared, the consent of the other parent will suffice. In case conditions are such with both parents the consent of a specially appointed legal guardian for the child is required.

If a Child Protection Committee has the custody of the child the consent of the Committee is required for the adoption.

A permission for adoption may be granted, even though a consent according to paragraph 1 or paragraph 2 is lacking if the child has been placed in foster care with the applicants and the circumstances of the child otherwise strongly recommend that he or she be adopted.

Article 8

Form and contents of a consent.

Consent to adoption shall be given in writing, and the person concerned shall confirm the consent before a member of staff from a District Commissioner who confirms that the person concerned has been informed of the legal effects of consent and of adoption.

A consent is not valid unless it has been confirmed three months after the birth of a child at the earliest, unless quite special circumstances apply.

The consent of parents or a specially appointed legal guardian is valid even though the prospective adoptive parents are not specified, in case the consent relates to the placing of a child for adoption by persons decided upon by the Child Protection Committee. Else an approval is not valid unless the names of the prospective adoptive parents are specified.

In case the consent to adoption is more than 12 months old then it shall be reconfirmed before the application for adoption is decided upon, unless special circumstances apply.

Article 9

Approval granted abroad.

The Minister may decide that a consent given before a competent authority, court or an institute in a foreign country equals a consent given before a member of staff from a District Commissioner, cf. Article 8, paragraph 1, and then exceptions from the principles of Article 8, paragraphs 2.-4., may be granted.

Article 10

Revocation of approval.

If person who has given his or her consent according to Articles 6 and 7 revokes the consent before a permission for adoption is granted, such permission may not be granted.

A permission for adoption may be granted, even though a consent according to paragraph 1 or paragraph 2 is lacking if the child has been placed in foster care with the applicants and the circumstances of the child otherwise strongly recommend that he or she be adopted.

Article 11

Opinion of a parent.

The opinion of a parent, who does not have the legal custody of a child, shall be sought, if possible, before a decision is made regarding an application for adoption

Article 12

Opinion of a legal guardian.

In case the person to be adopted has been deprived or his or her legal competence, the opinion of a legal guardian shall be sought before a decision is made regarding an application for adoption.

Article 13

Opinion of a spouse or cohabiting partner.

In case the person to be adopted is married or cohabiting, the opinion of his or her spouse or cohabiting partner shall be sought.

Article 14

Fee.

A permission for adoption shall not be granted if any person, who is to give his or her consent to the adoption, receives or pays a fee or receives benefits in relation to the consent, including a loss of income. Written declarations by the persons concerned on this subject may be required.

CHAPTER II

Procedure and Decision in Adoption Cases

Article 15

Application for permission for adoption.

An application for permission for adoption and a declaration of consent to adoption shall be written on forms provided by a District Commissioner.

Article 16

Opinion regarding application for permission for adoption.

The opinion of the Child Protection Committee shall be sought regarding an application for permission to adopt, unless it is evident that the requirements for granting permission to adopt are not met. The opinion of the Child Protection Committees, both in the district where the child resides and in the district where the applicants reside, shall be sought regarding an application for a permission to adopt, as well as the opinion of the Child Protection Committee, which has put the child into foster care, if that is the case

Furthermore, an opinion of the Adoption Board may be sought in addition to the opinion of the Child Protection Committee if it is deemed necessary, cf. Article 17.

The Ministry shall lay down regulations relating to the preparation of the opinions of Child Protection Committees.

Article 17

Adoption Board.

The Minister shall appoint a Board that renders opinions in adoption cases referred to the Board by the District Commissioner or by the Ministry. The Minister may entrust the Board with additional tasks and lay down further rules regarding its work.

The Board members shall be three with an equal number of alternates. They shall be appointed for a term of four years at a time. One board member shall be a lawyer and he or she shall be the chairman of the board, one a physician and the third a psychologist or a social worker.

The cost of the work of the Adoption Board shall be paid by the State Treasury according to the decision of the Minister.

Article 18

Application for permission for adoption.

After receiving the opinion of the Child Protection Committee and the Adoption Board, if that is the case, and after legal requirements have been complied with, a District Commissioner shall decide as soon as possible whether a permission for adoption will be granted.

If the District Commissioner decides to grant permission for adoption, a permit for the adoption will be issued to the applicants.

Article 19

Decision regarding the prospective permission for adoption.

If a District Commissioner decides to grant permission for adoption, even if a declaration of consent according to Article 7 is not available, or the consent has been revoked according to Article 10, then, in a manner which can easily be proven, the person who has the custody of the child, or an appointed legal guardian, shall be notified thereof in a decision supported by arguments. In the decision the problem on hand shall be stated, the main documents regarding the case, the conclusion and the arguments for the conclusion, including points of law upon which the decision is based and other relevant issues. Furthermore, the legal rights to refer the decision to the courts and the time limit for the institution of legal proceedings.

Article 20

Rejection of an application for adoption.

If an adoption is rejected it shall be done by a ruling. The ruling must state the issues under consideration, the principal evidence in the case, the conclusion and the arguments for the conclusion, including legal arguments providing the grounds for the decision and other relevant issues.

The parties of the case may appeal the District Commissioner's dismissal of permission for adoption to the Minister within a period of two months from the date of the ruling.

Article 21

Confirmation of an adoption permission in spite of defects.

A District Commissioner may, at the request of the parties concerned, confirm, with retroactive legal effect, permission for adoption that has been granted without meeting legal requirements. Under special circumstances the confirmation can take place after the death of the adopted child or the adoptive parent.

CHAPTER III

Court Case Regarding Adoption

Article 22

Court case regarding the decision to grant a permission for adoption.

The person who has the custody of a child, or a specially appointed legal guardian, may appeal the decision of the District Commissioner to grant permission for adoption under Article 19 to the district court within a period of 30 days after receiving the decision.

If a decision according to Article 19 is confirmed by a ruling of the District Court the permission for adoption will not be granted until the time limit for an appeal to the Supreme Court has passed.

A court ruling on the dismissal of the decision by a District Commissioner under Article 19 does not prevent a District Commissioner from reopening the case if circumstances have changed considerably or new information of substantial importance has emerged.

Article 23

Legal costs.

The Plaintiff shall be granted free legal aid, both before the District Court and before the Supreme Court, in a court case regarding adoption cf. Article 22

Article 24

Procedure etc.

A court case, according to Article 22, shall follow civil procedure with the exemptions specified in this Act.

Without the consent of a judge, nothing, which has occurred in such cases, can be made public except the decision or the judgement. A violation of this provision is punishable by a fine.

If a decision or a judgment in such a case is made public, including at the initiative of the court, the names and information, which can indicate the identity of the parties in the case or the identity of the child the decision or judgement concerns, shall be concealed.

CHAPTER IV

Legal Effects of Adoption

Article 25

Legal Effects.

Upon adoption the adopted child acquires the same legal status in regard to the adoptive parents, their relatives and those having adoptive relationship to them, as if he or she was the biological child of the adoptive parents, unless otherwise stipulated by law. As of the same time the pre-existing legal relationship between the child and his or her biological parents, other relatives and those having adoptive relationship to them, is terminated, unless otherwise stipulated by law.

In case a person adopts the child or adoptive child of his or her spouse then the child will acquire the same legal status as if he or she was the biological child of the married couple. The same applies if a cohabiting person adopts the child of his or her cohabiting partner.

CHAPTER V

The Obligation of Adoptive Parents to Provide Information and the Access of the Adopted Child to Information

 

Article 26

The obligation of adoptive parents to provide information

The adoptive parents shall inform their adopted child that he or she is adopted as soon as the child is mature enough. This shall as a rule be done not later than when the child reaches the age of six.

The adoptive parents have the right to receive advice from the relative Child Protection Committee regarding the providing of information according to paragraph 1.

Article 27

The adopted child's access to information.

When an adopted child has reached the age of 18 he or she has the right to receive the available information from the Ministry as to who his or her biological parents or previous adoptive parents are.

CHAPTER VI

Adoption of Children Abroad

Article 28

Implementation of the Hague Convention from May 29, 1993, on adoption.

The Minister oversees the implementation of the Hague Convention from May 29, 1993 on the Protection of Children and Co-operation Regarding Intercountry Adoption. The Minister assumes on behalf of the Icelandic State the tasks and obligations which rest with the so-called Central Authority according to the Convention.

The Minister may lay down a regulation stipulating the implementation of the Convention in this country.

Article 29

Adoption abroad.

Persons residing in Iceland are not permitted to adopt a child from abroad unless a District Commissioner approves by issuing an advance approval for the adoption.

Article 30

Application for an advance approval.

An application for an advance approval for the adoption of a child abroad shall be sent to the District Commissioner. The application shall be written on a form provided by the District Commissioner.

The Minister can stipulate that along with an application according to paragraph 1, or before the granting of an advance approval, the applicants shall submit confirmation that they have attended a course on the adoption of children from abroad. The Minister may lay down further regulations on the contents, structure and fee.

Article 31

Report regarding an application for an advance approval.

The opinion of the Child Protection Committee shall be sought regarding applications for advance approval to adopt foreign children unless it is evident that the requirements for the issuing of advance approvals are not fulfilled. However, it is not necessary to seek the opinion of the Committee if an Advance Approval has been issued for the applicants in the last 4 years and their application for adoption is being processed by the adoption authorities of country of origin, unless the District Commissioner believes the applicant's situation have changed significantly.

The opinion of the Child Protection Committee in the district where the applicants reside shall be sought regarding an application for an advance approval.

Furthermore, an opinion of the Adoption Board may be sought in addition to the opinion of the Child Protection Committee if it is deemed necessary, cf. Article 17.

Article 32

Issue of an advance approval.

After receiving the opinion of the Child Protection Committee and of the Adoption Board, as the case may be, and after legal requirements have been complied with, the District Commissioner shall as soon as possible rule on the application for advance approval for adoption.

In an advance approval it shall inter alia be stated that the prospective adoptive parents are suited to adopt a child from a specific foreign country, that the prospective adopted child will be granted the right to stay in Iceland permanently and that Icelandic authorities assume responsibility for the child from the time when he or she leaves his or her country of origin as if he or she were an Icelandic citizen.

The advance approval shall not be valid for a longer period of time than 3 years from the date of issue. The term of validity of the advance approval may however be extended one time for a period of up to 12 months under certain circumstances.

 

A District Commissioner may revoke an advance approval if he believes that the circumstances of the applicants have changed considerably from the time of its issue or if important information has been proven to be wrong.

Article 33

Denial of an advance approval.

If an advance approval is denied, it shall be done by a ruling in the same manner as described in Article 20. The parties may refer a District Commissioner's dismissal of an advance approval to the Minister for review within a period of two months from the date of the ruling.

Article 34

Adoption organisations.

The Minister accredits organisations to act as intermediaries in intercountry adoption.

Accreditation shall be valid for a specific period of time and the accreditation document shall state to which foreign countries it applies.

The Minister lays down rules regarding the conditions for the accreditation of adoption organisations and supervises their operation. The Minister can revoke the accreditation if the organisation no longer complies with the conditions for the accreditation.

Article 35

Adoption mediation.

Only accredited adoption organisations can act as intermediaries in adoption. The term acting as an intermediary in adoption refers to activities which serve the main purpose of establishing a contact between those who wish to adopt a foreign child and the government and other public authorities and accredited organisations in the child's country of origin and to provide in other ways the necessary assistance to bring about a legitimate adoption.

The Minister may lay down rules to the effect that those requesting to adopt a foreign child must turn to an accredited organisation according to Article 34 to act as an intermediary in the adoption.

Activities relating to the adoption of foreign children shall always be conducted with the best interest of the child in mind and no one may derive undue gains therefrom, financial or otherwise.

A violation of the provisions of this Article is punishable by a fine.

CHAPTER VII

Rules on Jurisdiction, etc.

Article 36

Jurisdiction in adoption cases.

A person who resides in Iceland can only adopt a child according to the provisions of this Act.

Article 37

An application from a person residing abroad for permission to adopt.

A person who resides abroad may only adopt a child according to this Act if the person, or his or her spouse, are Icelandic citizens and can therefore not obtain a permission for adoption in the country where he or she lives, provided that an Icelandic permission for adoption will be deemed valid where he or she lives.

A District Commissioner may also permit that an application for permission for adoption will be handled in Iceland in case the applicants have a special connection with the country.

The provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 do, however, not apply to adoptions carried out according to the Hague Convention from May 29, 1993, on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption.

Article 38

Legal effects of the adoption of children abroad.

If an advance approval has been issued, according to the provisions of this Act, an adoption, which has been granted abroad, in accordance with the advance approval, shall be valid in Iceland.

A District Commissioner may decide that the legal effects of the adoption of a child, which has been granted abroad, shall be the same as the legal effects of an adoption permitted in Iceland.

Article 39

Adoption abroad that goes against the basic principles of Icelandic laws.

An adoption, which takes place abroad, is not valid in Iceland if it is contrary to the basic principles of Icelandic laws (ordre public).

Article 40

Deviation due to international agreements.

The Minister may decide that it is permitted to deviate from the provisions of this Act if it is necessary in order to comply with obligations, which Iceland has undertaken, or may undertake, in accordance with international agreements.

CHAPTER VIII

Administrative Rules, Entry Into Force, Abrogation of Law and Applicable Law

Article 41

Administrative rules.

The Minister may, by regulation, lay down further provisions regarding the implementation of this Act, including the requirements that the applicants must meet.

Article 42

Entry into force and repealed laws.

This Act enters into force when six months have passed from its publication.

Article 43

Applicable law.

Applications for adoption and applications for advance approvals, which the Ministry has received before this Act enters into force, shall be handled in accordance with Act no. 15/1978. However, if the applicants so request, the provisions of this Act may be applied.