• Sri Lankan Adoption law is governed under the provisions of the Adoption of Children Ordinance No. 24 of 1941
  • Child adoption is a method where the relationship between parents and the child who are not biologically connected to each other is created by an artificial mechanism.
  • Any person can make a child adoption application to District Court where such applicant or child resides, then that District Court will make an order of adoption.

Age of the Child

  • Child must be under the age of 14 years.
  • In the event the child is over the age of 10 years then that child’s consent is needed to proceed with the adoption.
  • Child must be a resident of Sri Lanka.

Who can adopt a child?

  • Applicant must be at least 25 years old


  • Applicant must be 21 years older than the child

However those restrictions will not apply if;                             

  1. Child is a direct descendant of applicant.
  2. A brother or sister of applicant by full or half blood or descendant of such brother or sister.
  3. A child of the wife or husband of applicant by another father or mother.

Accordingly, a sister, bother, uncle and or aunt can make an application to adopt their relative child.

Adoption by foreigners

  • A foreigner may adopt a child under the provisions of the Adoption of Children (Amendment) Act, No. 38 of 1979.
  • Any person not residing in Sri Lanka may apply for an adoption of a child who resides in Sri Lanka if no other Sri Lankan resident has applied to adopt the said child.

Adoption by a married person

  • The Court may not allow to adopt a female child if the sole applicant is a male, unless there are reasons to justify such application.
  • However an unmarried biological father of female child born outside the marriage who accepts paternity of such child can adopt as the sole adopter.
  • A married person is unable to adopt a child without the consent of his or her spouse. However Court may allow an adoption application if such marriage is dissolved by a competent Court or if the other spouse cannot be found or is of unsound mind.


  • Joint adoptions of a same child can be made if the applicants are lawfully married.


Adoption by a Muslim person

  • Muslims in Sri Lanka may adopt children under the provisions of the



  • Court will record the consent of the child if the child is over 10 years, therefore the Court will take into consideration the wishes of such child. However depending on the child’s maturity the Court may take into consideration of the consent of such child who is below the age of 10 years.
  • Court as the upper guardian may not grant an adoption order even if the child’s consent has been obtained by the applicants if the court finds that adoption is not in the best interest of the child.
  • If the child is with the parents then the consent of the parents should be obtained with proper understanding about the nature and effect of the adoption.
  • When the child is Illegitimate then mother’s (sole guardian) consent is necessary and biological father’s consent is not necessary.
  • Consent of,
  1. Every guardian / parent of child going to be adopted;
  2. Who has the custody of the child;
  3. Who is liable to contribute to the support of the child, should be obtained before the adoption of the child as the adoption would completely deprive their rights over the child.


However, the Court may disregard such consent if the Court satisfied that the person whose consent to be obtained,

  • Has abandoned or deserted the child,
  • Cannot be found,
  • Pronounced unsound mind by the Court or
  • Refuse to maintain the child.


  • District Court has the jurisdiction to make an adoption order as the upper guardian.
  • After District Court receiving an adoption application, the Court will appoint a probation officer from the Department of Probation and Child Care Service as a guardian to safeguard the child’s interest and Court will take into consideration of the welfare of the child.
  • Court can also postpone the adoption order and make an interim order giving custody of the child to the applicant for a probationary period of two years.
  • All parties to the adoption must be present in court in both calling and inquiry dates.
  • Court may confer the surname of the adopter to the child with the adoption order.


Legal Consequences

  • Upon an adoption order by the Court, it confers the adopted child the status of a child born in lawful wedlock of the adopter.
  • Adopted child will acquire rights, titles and interests of any property of the Adopter.
  • Adopted child will become entitled to the succession of the Adopter.
  • Rights, duties, and obligations and liabilities of biological parents with regard to future custody, maintenance and education are vested in adopter.
  • After the adoption, the adopted child shall have the right to claim maintenance from the adoptive parents under the provisions of Section 22 of the Maintenance Act 1999.