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Adopting a Child from Abroad

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 15 Sep 2019 | comments*Discuss
Adopting A Child From Abroad

The UK authorities allow citizens and residents to adopt children from abroad and bring them to live in the UK. However, there are restrictions on adopting abroad to prevent abuse of the system. Adoption abroad is permitted by the UK Government in cases where the adoption is in the child’s best interests and the adoptive parent or parents have been assessed as suitable by an adoption agency.

The Adoption Procedure

Anyone thinking of adopting a child from abroad should start by contacting their local authority adoption agency or one which is registered with the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills for overseas adoption. Adopting a child from abroad is often referred to in official literature as intercountry adoption.

The UK-based agency will assess the prospective adoptive parents for their suitability. This is an intensive process involving police and medical checks as well as lengthy interviews. If the application to adopt is approved by the adoption agency it will be passed to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

The Department will check that the application complies with UK law. If satisfied that it does, it will issue a certificate of eligibility to the relevant agency in the country where the adoption is to take place. Once a suitable child has been found the overseas adoption agency will send information about the child back to the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Depending on the country where the adoption took place the new parents will either obtain an adoption order in that country or will have to apply for one once the child is in the UK.

Immigration Rules for Bringing Adopted Children to the UK

The child will need a visa or entry clearance before being allowed to enter the UK. If the adoption is from a Hague Convention or designated country (see below) the child will generally be given permission to stay in the UK permanently. Otherwise the child will usually be allowed to stay for 12 months so that formal UK adoption procedures can be completed. Visa applications for adoptive children should be made in their original country of residence.

In order to be able to bring a child adopted abroad to live permanently in the UK the adoptive parents must be able to show that:

  • They live in the UK and that there is no legal restriction on their stay;
  • They can support the child financially;
  • When the child was adopted both adoptive parents lived together abroad or that at least one of them lived permanently in the UK;
  • The child was adopted because his birth parents could not look after him and the adoption represents a genuine assumption of parental responsibility for the child;
  • The child has no ongoing connection with his original family.
  • The purpose of the rules is to prevent people with permission to be in the UK pretending to adopt children who are foreign citizens purely so that the child and / or members of the child’s actual family can more easily enter the UK.

The Three Types of Overseas Adoptions

  • Hague Convention Adoptions – adoption from a country which has implemented the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of intercountry Adoption. The adoption will automatically be recognised by the UK authorities and the child will have an immediate right to British citizenship.
  • Designated list adoptions – where adoption is from a country which is listed as a designated country in the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973, the adoption will be recognised but an application will have to be made for the child to obtain citizenship and this will not be granted automatically.
  • Other adoptions – if the adoption is from any other country the new parents will have to apply in the UK for an adoption order. If a UK court grants such an order the child will acquire citizenship as a result.
The government may place a temporary restriction on adoptions from a particular country if it considers appropriate to do so – for example to prevent child trafficking.

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Hi my wife living in India is my adopted son with tired so I bring UK so what can I do now and my son is special need is slow mind in 15 year old but age is it 17 so please tell me what's rule circulation so I can bring with my wife my wife's son I adapted I'm leaving UK so how can apply Shakil
Lisa - 15-Sep-19 @ 1:17 AM
Hi I have 1kid she us 15 years I decided to adopt my brother son due to mum die no body looking after him. The same time I have only 1 girl I wanted to adopt my bro son due we are very close and love each others.
My husband and I are British citizens, we have no children of our own. However I am very close to my niece who is 11 years old. She lives in Nigeria with her mother, her dad is late. I would like to adopt her. How do I go about it? Do I require a certain amount of income to be eligible to adopt her?
Chrystabel - 25-Jul-19 @ 7:20 PM
am a single manwho lives in Britain. I have no children. My sister left her son and his father passed away. He is living with his neighbours the past 2 years with my rapportbut now his neighbours she is going to live in America and he doesn’t have no one to live with. I want to adopt him. How can I bring him here? I love him a lot . Please help me how i can adopt him . Thank you for your help in.
Dan - 6-Jun-19 @ 4:02 AM
Hello my name is Aicha I live in u.k with my husband and my two children's .I want to adopt my sister son from guinea because my sister is died and we don't have parents there to look after him. How can I do to bring him here please and what's can I do?
Aicha - 29-Apr-19 @ 1:12 AM
Hi I want to adopt. My reletive child. as I don't have any. Please advice procedure
Syed - 21-Apr-19 @ 5:56 PM
I am a married woman who lives in Britain. I have no children. My brother and his wife have been divorced for two years. They left a beautiful girl with my mother. I want to adopt her. How can I bring her here? I love her a lot. Please help me how i can adopt her . Thank you for your help in advan.
Lili - 8-Apr-19 @ 4:49 PM
I am a British citizen and married. I amcurrently considering adopting my sister's daughterwho has been a domestic servant to her partnal anti for years. Following the death of her father , she visited her mothe last yearr. about and refused to return back to her anti due to the way she was treated. Hermother is unable to cope with bringing up 5children andnow consideringreturning her back to live with her anti as domestic servant.I am considering adopting her as my daughter because I have 3boys and has always felt a vacuum in my life when I had a miscarriagefor my last baby , which may have been a girl. Thisgirl is now 16yrs and not sure if this is possible and lives oversee.Either way I will still adopt but not a baby. Everyone in the house are happy for me to adopt her.She has contact with my boys and my husband adores her.
Tine - 19-Feb-19 @ 3:31 PM
We are a family of 7 with 5 children 3 adopted. My daughter is currently in Ghana working at a disabled orphanage and has fallen for a 7 year old boy with Cerebral Palsy. We wondered how difficult and expensive it is to adopt a child from Ghana and whether it is something we could do. I am currently a faster Carer and my youngest son has autism
Bibs - 30-Jan-19 @ 7:20 PM
My name is michelle i meet a man from turkey he is married and they whant to adop me as there dauther am 20 years old what is the requarments for adoption
Michelle - 10-Jan-19 @ 6:19 AM
Hello my name is michelle villarin 20 years old from philippines i meet a farieger from turkey who married a philippine woman they whant to adop me and they whant to bring me in turkey. Can you help me about this what is the requerments 3 mouths from now we go
Michelle - 10-Jan-19 @ 6:16 AM
Hello.I'm from turkey.I have a tumor on my left leg.My mom have the agrresive varitation of breast cancer. My father is bankrupt and our havings is not enough for the payment of the debt.I want to find a family for giving up my brother for adoption.But how can i find a family for this.Can you help me?
Cryingsnail - 9-Jan-19 @ 11:39 AM
My husband and I are British citizens, we have no children of our own. However I am very close to my niece who is 11 years old. She lives in Nigeria with her parents. I would like to adopt her. How do I go about it? Do I require a certain amount of income to be eligible to adopt her?
PW - 30-Dec-18 @ 12:42 PM
I’m British citizenliving with my wife and 3 kids. My sister living in my own country with 2 kids, 3 and 7 years old. Can I adopt my sisters child? If can how can apply or adopt them?
Mandak - 18-Dec-18 @ 7:54 PM
Hi often visit Gambia and am friends with several families there. The parents from one of the families has agreed to me adopting their 3 year old daughter and me bringing her back to the UK. How long would this roughly take for me to be able to bring her here to live with me please and what proceedures would i have to please ? Many thanks
Annie - 4-Dec-18 @ 2:25 PM
Hi, I am a UK citizen my brother passed away from cancer leaving behind his 3 daughters who I am now taking care of them financially because their mother can’t provide for them as my brother was the sole provider. I would like to adopt them and bring them here. They are in DR Congo(Africa) how do I go about this? I am married with two children of my own. What do I need to do? Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
Ciera - 21-Nov-18 @ 8:24 PM
I am a single woman age 44 ,British citizen, would like to adopt my grand nephew who is 13 years old. His parents are not together and currently is being living with my mom who is his great grandma.Please help me how i can adopt him. Thank you for your help in advance ??
Lusekelo - 6-Nov-18 @ 10:31 PM
I and my husbandare both British citizen ,we haven't got children and we would like to adopt one of my family member in Vietnam . She is my sister's daughter and she is 12 years .Is there any agency you can recommend?I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you. Maya
Maya - 1-Nov-18 @ 8:10 PM
I want to adopt a child from Afghanistan what should I do ? I am married and we have a child .
Nil - 1-Nov-18 @ 2:47 PM
I live in the UK. I think US citizens can adopt from Afghanistan depending on the situation and circumstances. Would I be able to adopt a baby from Afghanistan to the UK?
FR - 19-Oct-18 @ 6:41 PM
The situation is that my sister-in-law has passed away in the Philippines leaving an 11 year old daughter who is now an orphan as my brother passed away several years back. My husband and I are both UK citizens. We’d like to bring her over here because the only family we have in the Philippines are retired, a student and a sister who is unable to house her. I looked at ICAB and they require an adoption agency. Is there an agency you can recommend? Also some agencies require that the parents adopting have no cancer. I had a cancer history but I no longer have it. Would that exclude us from adopting?
Brent - 18-Oct-18 @ 6:04 PM
Hi Louise, I'm writing a book aimed at 8-14 year olds. The basic plot [ which can be altered for authenticity ]is Albanian lady with 8 year old daughter, husband disappeared [ dead? ]. Comes to UK, claims asylum [ protection from local men/gangs mistreating her ]. During the year of decision daughter adapts wonderfully. Claim refused, both deported. UK family , who had become friends, would like to adopt daughter with mums full permission. It seems under Hague Convention this would broadly be possible?What would the hurdles be, so that I'm able to ensure authenticity? If adoption accepted, girl would be UK citizen? Also, as UK citizens, I assume she and her adoptive family would be allowed to travel to Albania? Thanks in advance and am happy to credit you in book.
David - 17-Oct-18 @ 1:07 PM
I wanted to adopt my sister's son from Nigeria but I don't really know what to do. Please can you advise me.
Yebu - 15-Oct-18 @ 4:59 AM
@Rich - If your only intention is to visit the UK, she can apply for a standard visitor visa. Also you can apply to register her as a British citizen under section 3(1) using the MN1 form
TJ. - 19-Sep-18 @ 6:01 AM
My Wife & I are both UK citizens, but my work has taken us to India for the past 4 years. Over the past 2 years we had been waiting to adopt through the CARA official adoption agency of India. Earlier this year we were lucky enough to be matched with our daughter and since the Court Adoption Order has been granted. We also have her Birth Certificate & now Indian Passport. My query is in regard to what VISA is initially required for her travel to the UK for holiday/visit ahead of our repatriation? I note on the Gov website you can have a Standard Visiting VISA, Family VISA or an EEA Family Permit. Despite contacting the immigration contact number (and being heavily charged for the call), I am no clearer on the correct application to make. Any support, guidance or previous experience you can share would be welcomed.
Rich - 18-Sep-18 @ 5:46 PM
I have done a relative adoption of a 16yrs old girl in Nigeria and now have my court order. I am a British citizen and need to bring her into the uk, which form will i fill in to bring her in.
OB - 13-Sep-18 @ 4:48 PM
Im an Albanian Citizen who has a 14 years old boy. I have a friend who lives in UK. He got his UK citizenship becouse he was a victim of Kosovo-Serbia War. Can he adopt my child and give him British Citizenship and UK passport?
xxxAlbaniaxxx - 1-Sep-18 @ 1:13 PM
, I am the NetherlandsCitizen, marriedand we working me and my husbandin Britain for over 2 years.my husband hasfamily member resident I am originally from the Ethiopian. There's a few weeks old child whos find on the wey. The child is know in the hospital . Can I legally adopt the child for his best interest? Can I bring the child to the UK? what I am going to do to bring him here as soon as possible?
Eyerusalem - 28-Aug-18 @ 6:55 AM
Hi, I am a British Citizen, single living and working in Britain for over13 years. I am originally from the Philippines. There's a few weeks old child whos mother died. The father can't support the child for he has no work. He then gave the child to me through my mother back home. I have been supporting the child financially and went home for a month to look after him. Can I legally adopt the child for his best interest? Can I bring the child to the UK? what I am going to do to bring him here as soon as possible?
MG - 22-Aug-18 @ 9:04 PM
My partner would like to adopt my children. He is a UK citizen,we are American born. I am divorce and have sole legal & physical custody, thier bio father is not allowed contact due to extreme physical domestic violence and has not seen or spoken to them in over 2 yrs. My childeren are 12 & 16 and want the adoption as they want no contact with my x. Do we have to notify the x back in the states? Especially since it has to do with our safety?Thank you
Sww79 - 19-Aug-18 @ 3:38 AM
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