BGH on adopted children: Right to information about the biological father


Status: 01/19/2022 2:10 p.m

An adopted child can request information about the name of the biological father from its biological mother. If the mother cannot remember, she must say who she had sex with, the BGH ruled.

Even after an adoption, the biological mother is generally obliged to provide the child with information about the identity of the biological father. Because even adopted children have a right to know their own parentage, decided the Twelfth Civil Senate of the Federal Court of Justice (BGH), which is responsible for family law issues.

Accordingly, an adopted child can request information about the name of the biological father from its biological mother. If the mother cannot remember him, she must name the men with whom she had sexual intercourse during the period of conception or ask people who were in contact at the time who could provide information about possible producers, according to the BGH.

Mother cannot name biological father

The specific case involved a woman born in 1984 who unsuccessfully requested information from her biological mother about her biological father. The mother gave birth to the applicant when she was 16 years old. The daughter was put up for adoption when she was a little girl. After the adoption, the two only saw each other again in 2003 through the mediation of the youth welfare office.

It was not clear who the child’s biological father was. A paternity determination procedure carried out in 1985 was unsuccessful, as was a paternity test on another man. The mother stated that she could not remember the father.

Legal right to knowledge of descent

The daughter sued the court for information about the biological father – initially unsuccessfully before the district court in Stuttgart. The Stuttgart Higher Regional Court then ordered the mother to name all the men with whom she had sex at the time in question. She lodged an appeal, which has now been dismissed.

The BGH ruled that the adopted applicant had a legal right to know her parentage. The fact that the biological mother is no longer the legal mother after the adoption of the child does not conflict with the right to information. Because the claim arose before the adoption. The BGH referred to the duty of care and consideration of parents and children.

Protection against withholding available information

The mother had also not argued that the naming of the possible fathers violated her right to respect for her private and intimate sphere. According to the judges, the mere notification that she could not remember any possible producer is not sufficient to fulfill the right to information. She also did not explain “that it is impossible for her to fulfill it even after making reasonable inquiries”.

The court also held that the state had a duty to protect individuals from withholding available information about their ancestry. The BGH explained that it was not just about enforcing financial interests. Rather, the right to know one’s own descent is strengthened.

File number: XII ZB 183/21

BGH: Right to information of an adopted child

Klaus Hempel, SWR, 19.1.2022 · 14:08


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