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Finding biological parents and their direct offspring

Adopted children have a right to find out the personal details (surname, first name and place of origin or citizenship) of their biological parents at the time of the adoption, even without the latter’s consent. Before the information is communicated to the adopted child, the authority or office which holds this information must, if possible, notify the biological parents.

If the biological parents agree to be contacted by the adopted child, the competent authority will inform the child in writing of the biological parents’ current surname, first name, place of origin or citizenship and current address. If the biological parents do not agree to be contacted, any changes in name which have occurred (following marriage, divorce etc.) and the current address are not disclosed and the child is informed of the biological parents’ right to privacy.

An adopted child aged 18 or above can also ask for information about the direct offspring of their biological parents (siblings or half-siblings). This information will only be given if the siblings or half-siblings are also of age and consent to the information being given to the adopted person.

When can I make an application?

If you would like to discover the identity of your biological parents, you can make an application to do so once you have reached the age of 18. You can obtain the information prior to this if you can show that you have a legitimate interest in doing so.

If you are not yet 18, you nonetheless have a right to information about your biological parents provided it does not lead to the possibility of them being identified (e.g. information about the reason why they put you up for adoption).

Who should I contact?

You should contact the authority in:

  • the commune where you were born if you were born in Switzerland
  • the canton where your adoption came into force or was officially recognised if you were born abroad
  • or alternatively contact the canton in which the adoption process was carried out.