Family policy Pregnancy and the desire to have children

All women and all men in Germany are entitled to seek advice on all matters concerning pregnancy. They can attend any pregnancy (conflict) counselling centre regardless of who operates them. In addition to the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, both the Federal Centre for Health Education and local pregnancy counselling centres provide information and services concerning pregnancy, pregnancy-related problems, childbirth, abortion and family planning.

The Federal Foundation Mother and Child supports expectant mothers in financial emergency situations by providing grants to cover the cost of the child's immediate needs and other expenses related to pregnancy and birth. A mother is in a financial emergency if her income does not cover the financial needs associated with pregnancy, childbirth and care and education of the little child and other government benefits are not available in a timely manner or not in a large enough amount. Applications for assistance to the Federal Foundation Mother and Child are, as a rule, to be submitted within the context of personal counselling at pregnancy centres and only possible until the child is born.

Furthermore, the Federal Foundation for Early Childhood Intervention provides assistance for families aiming to strengthen parental relationship and parenting skills.

Secret births without medical supervision must be prevented, as should be abandoning or killing of a newborn child. To avoid such situations, pregnant women in need or in distress can call 0800 40 40 020 - a free hotline which provides assistance in enabling a safe and anonymous birth. Alternatively, information and assistance can be obtained online at


Under current law, abortions are, as a rule, punishable acts pursuant to section 218 of the German Criminal Code (StGB) and only permitted under certain conditions. By way of exception, an abortion is not punishable in the following cases: In line with the counselling rule under section 218a subsection 1 of the German Criminal Code and if there is a medical or criminological indication as per section 218a subsections 2 and 3 of the German Criminal Code.

Further information on the legal situation can be found here.

Involuntary childlessness

Almost one in ten couples aged between 25 and 59 would like to have children, but are reliant on medical help to fulfill their wish. For many, the costs involved in this process can be both a financial and a psychological burden. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs has launched the federal initiative "Help and support in case of unwanted childlessness" to provide involuntarily childless people with the support they need on their way towards their own child. On the information portal of the federal initiative, those who are interested and affected will find a wide range of information and support services related to the period of time when they wish to have a child.


Many people in Germany would like to adopt a child. For many couples, an adoption is the only way to fulfill their wish to have a child. The child’s best interests are always at the heart of adoption placement.

Since 1990, more than 160.000 children have found a new home by means of adoption in Germany. Although adoptions in Germany seem to be gradually declining in general, about 4000 adoptions take place every year, including approximately 100 intercountry adoptions. About two thirds of adoptions in Germany were made by a step-parent.

The Adoption Aid Act entered into force on 1 April 2021. It reforms adoption placement in four key areas:

1. providing better counselling for all stakeholders involved before, during and after an adoption

2. greater support in openly and naturally dealing with adoption within the adoptive families and when families of origin and adoptive families make contact

3. strengthening cooperation between different expert bodies

4. establishing greater legal certainty and better protection of children in intercountry adoptions.