More and more stepfathers and stepmothers are adopting their partners' young children.

The adoption of strangers' children, on the other hand, is becoming rarer, as the Federal Statistical Office reported on Thursday in Wiesbaden.

A total of 3,843 children were adopted in Germany in 2021, two percent more than in the previous year.

Two-thirds of these were adopted by their stepfathers or stepmothers.

These stepchildren were more and more often adopted as small children: "The proportion of stepchildren under the age of three among all adopted children has risen from six percent to 27 percent in the last ten years," reported the statisticians.

"It has more than quadrupled within ten years." The number of all adoptions, however, fell by five percent in a ten-year comparison.

Strong east-west divide

In April 2020, the legislature extended the possibility of stepchild adoption to permanent partnerships under certain conditions.

Previously, stepchildren in Germany could only be adopted as part of a marriage.

However, the statisticians still see a strong east-west divide: stepchildren are adopted far more frequently in the west than in the east.

"Despite the developments surrounding stepchild adoption, the number of adoptions has remained relatively stable at a low level for years or has declined slightly," the office said.

One reason for this is the decline in classic third-party adoptions.

Compared to 2011, foreign adoptions have decreased by 30 percent.

This development is also proven by data from the adoption agencies: In 2021, there were five potential adoptive families for every registered adoptive child.

Ten years earlier, the ratio was one to seven.