L-R: Jeannine Dennewald, civil law department; Sam Tanson, Luxembourg's Minister of Justice; Nancy Carier, advisor; Véronique Bruck, first government advisor; Credit: MJUST

Luxembourg's Ministry of Justice presented a new draft law which would grant adopted children and children conceived through egg or sperm donation the right to know their origins.

Justice Minister Sam Tanson presented the bill on Wednesday. She stressed that "the well-being of the child is at the heart of our concerns".  As provided in the government programme, this reform "will introduce the principle that the child has the right to have, as far as possible, access to his / her origins".

The main objective of the bill is to guarantee the right to know one's origins, as recognised by the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child. This bill should be read together with the bill reforming parentage law, under which the principle of access to knowledge of one's origins has already been introduced.

Minister Sam Tanson continued: “Currently there is no legal framework in Luxembourg to be able to officially search for one's origins. However, it is undisputed that the knowledge of its origins plays an important role in the construction of the personality of the individual”.

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Justice stressed that the rights of the biological mother and the rights of the child must be balanced. At present, a woman can give birth anonymously, i.e. give birth in hospital and leave after the birth without leaving her identity or any other information. This is to ensure childbirth in adequate sanitary conditions, as well as immediate care of the child. This bill introduces “secret” childbirth, meaning that both birth parents can declare their identity. The latter will only be transmitted to the child if a special agreement is also given for the lifting of identity secrecy. Parents can also decide to leave “non-identifying” information, for instance a letter explaining the circumstances surrounding the birth. The birth parents can declare their identity at any time as well as agree to for the lifting of their identity secrecy.

This bill also provides for access to knowledge of one's origins in the context of medically assisted procreation (MAP) with a third party donor. The identity of the gamete donors must be known and documented in the file for MAP performed in Luxembourg and abroad.

Only the child can request access to this information. If the child is a minor, he / she would require parental consent. In the event of parental refusal, the child can request authorisation from the family affairs judge.

The bill provides for the same possibility for children adopted by virtue of an “other” national adoption (where the name of at least one birth parent is known) or an international adoption.

The Minister of Justice clarified that this bill applies to children born after the entry into force of the law, but that a transitional provision also provides for the possibility for children born before this time to be able to request the possibility of researching their origins.