Adopting a child from another country
When an individual or a couple who are habitually resident in the UK adopts a child from another country, this is known as ‘intercountry adoption’.
The principles of intercountry adoption are contained within international conventions that apply to the UK and, in line with these, the Government only allows intercountry adoptions in the following circumstances:
- if the child cannot live with their birth parents or as part of a permanent family in their country of birth;
- as an alternative if the child cannot be suitably cared for in their country of birth;
- only if it is in the best interests of the child and with respect for their fundamental rights;
- when an adoption agency has assessed the prospective adoptive parent(s) as eligible and suitable to adopt a child from another country;
- when the birth mother has given informed consent to adoption following the birth of her child; and
- provided that no profit is being made during the adoptive process.
What does UK law say?
All prospective adoptive parent(s) who are habitually resident in the UK are subject to the adoption legislation that covers the bringing of children into the UK from another country. Whether or not someone is ‘habitually resident’ can ultimately only be determined by the courts. Anyone considering intercountry adoption should contact a solicitor for advice first.
In order to adopt a child from another country, UK law requires:
- an assessment by an adoption agency to establish whether the prospective adopters are eligible and suitable. This involves interviews with a social worker, medical and police checks. The Agency’s adoption panel will then consider the prospective adopters’ application and make a recommendation, which may or may not be approved by the agency’s decision maker.
- The issue of a certificate to confirm that the prospective adopters have been approved.
- The prospective adopters to carry out various steps, depending on their particular case. Usually this involves:
o travelling to the country in question to meet the child; and
o either obtaining an adoption order overseas in order to bring the child back to the UK; or
o bringing the child back to the UK first and then obtaining an adoption order through the UK courts.
It is important to note that all adopted children, or children who are due to be adopted in the UK, will require entry clearance into the UK in accordance with the immigration rules prior to travelling and settling here.
Types of intercountry adoptions
The three main types of intercountry adoption are as follows:
- Hague Convention adoptions: these are when a child is adopted to the UK from a country covered by the Hague Convention. If one of the prospective adopters is a British citizen and they are habitually resident in the UK, then the adoption will result in British citizenship for the child.
- Designated List adoptions: these occur when adoptions are made in countries listed in the Adoptions (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973. This will not automatically result in the granting of British citizenship to the child.
- ‘Other’: If an adoption is not recognised under the Hague Convention or the designated list, then the prospective adopters will have to apply for an adoption order within the UK.
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