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Hans van Loon and David Sindres

The Wagner case stemmed from the non-recognition by Luxembourg of the adoption, in Peru, of a Peruvian child by a Luxembourg national. In November 1996, the Family Court of the province of Huamanga had pronounced the adoption in accordance with the legal conditions for full adoption in Peru, so that the child lost her family ties with her original family and acquired the status of daughter of the adopting parent, Ms. Wagner. Once in Luxembourg, Ms. Wagner, relying on the pre-existent judicial practice, expected the foreign adoption to be registered. However, that practice had been abolished and Ms. Wagner had to make an application before the District Court in order to obtain the enforcement (exequatur) of the foreign judgment. The enforcement would allow the child to acquire Luxembourgish nationality, and thereby European Union citizenship, and be granted definitive permission to remain in the country. In 1998, the Court dismissed the application for enforcement, based on the Luxembourg rules on the conflict of laws, which provide that the conditions for adoption are governed by the national law of the adoptive parent. According to Luxembourg’s Civil Code, an application for full adoption could only be made by a married couple. Ms. Wagner contested that the Court was dealing with an application for enforcement and not an application to adopt; and that the real issue consisted in the rights of the child adopted following the Peruvian judgment.