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Adopting a Child from Abroad

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 16 Feb 2018 | 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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[Add a Comment]
Jenny- Your Question:
Hi, I am a uk citizen, living and working full-time (medical doctor) in UK. I am a single mother to my biological child who is 7year old. I want to adopt 2 sisters (14 and 10year olds) from Nigeria. Will the fact I am a single mother affect my chances of successfully adopting them and bringing them to Uk? How do I apply for them to come to UK?

Our Response:
You can adopt a child from overseas if they can’t be cared for in a safe environment in their own country and/or the adoption would be in their best interests. Please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 16-Feb-18 @ 2:19 PM
SJ - Your Question:
Hi I am an Indian with British citizenship living in the UK with my husband who is on a spouse visa. We have one son who also has British citizenship. We are thinking about adopting a child from India. The whole process seems so scary, but I don’t want that to stop us from going about with the plan. Could you please guide us through the adoption process, whom to contact and how to go about. Looking forward to hear from you?

Our Response:
Please see the gov.uk link here , which should tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 16-Feb-18 @ 10:54 AM
@Jenny - The best way is through an adoption agency recognized by the UK government. You will have to adopt the children in Nigeria first and then apply for visas to come to the UK. Once here you will obtain a UK adoption order for them to be legally recognized as your adopted children and thereafter they will become British citizens.
TJ. - 16-Feb-18 @ 4:07 AM
Hi, I am a uk citizen, living and working full-time (medical doctor) in UK. I am a single mother to my biological child who is 7year old. I want to adopt 2 sisters (14 and 10year olds) from Nigeria. Will the fact I am a single mother affect my chances of successfully adopting them and bringing them to Uk? How do I apply for them to come to UK?
Jenny - 15-Feb-18 @ 8:31 PM
Hi I am an Indian with British citizenship living in the UK with my husband who is on a spouse visa. We have one son who also has British citizenship. We are thinking about adopting a child from India. The whole process seems so scary, but I don’t want that to stop us from going about with the plan. Could you please guide us through the adoption process, whom to contact and how to go about. Looking forward to hear from you?
SJ - 15-Feb-18 @ 2:34 PM
@Nicole - from an immigration perspective the UK does not recognize adoption orders from Malawi. Once you complete the adoption process in Malawi you will also require an adoption order from a UK court for your child to become a British citizen.
TJ. - 10-Feb-18 @ 9:10 AM
My partner and I are both British citizens and live in the UK. We recently travelled to Malawi and visited a local orphanage where we met the most amazing little girl. The girl is an orphan and has no other relatives to take care of her. I am seeking advice about we adopt her and bring her back to the UK to be with us? Please can you advise?
Nicole - 9-Feb-18 @ 8:32 PM
My husband and I have the opportunity to move to Nigeria for work for approx. 3 years (as UK civil servants). We are both British citizens but have not lived in the UK for a few years. Would it be possible to adopt a Nigerian child and subsequently bring them back to the UK? What would be involved in the process - would we have to be assessed by both UK and Nigerian social work services? Are there any cases of British couples successfully adopting from Nigeria?
SC - 29-Jan-18 @ 6:19 PM
@Glen - If you are British citizens serving in the British Army or under crown service in Germany then the children you adopt from Belize will be British citizens automatically. You will have to apply for British passports for them before they can travel to either UK or Germany. Please note that if you are not serving in the army or under crown service the children will not be British citizens after the adoption but may be entitled to apply to register as British citizens.
TJ. - 12-Jan-18 @ 1:42 AM
We are adopting 2 boys from Belize but currently live in Germany with the British Army. When we collect them can I bring them into the UK and travel straight to Germany? We are due to move back to the UK later this year, however, I will try to live sooner if they are not allowed to Germany on arrival from being collected.
Glen - 11-Jan-18 @ 6:59 PM
reema - Your Question:
Hi there I would like to adopt my sister son from Pakistan and can you tell me what procedure I need to follow in pakistan for adoption and in UK in order to bring him over. I have indefinite leaves to remain.

Our Response:
You can adopt a child from overseas only if they can’t be cared for in a safe environment in their own country, and adoption would be considered to be in the child's best interests. You can see more via the gov.uk link here . The same process applies whether the child is a relative of the potential adoptee, or not.
AboutImmigration - 9-Jan-18 @ 9:45 AM
Hi there i would like to adopt my sister son from Pakistan and can you tell me what procedure i need to follow in pakistan for adoption and in UK in order to bring him over. I have indefinite leaves to remain.
reema - 8-Jan-18 @ 1:52 PM
@Jeff - Because you are not currently resident in the UK any child you adopt in Nigeria will not be entitled to register as a British citizen.
TJ. - 2-Jan-18 @ 11:28 AM
Hi I am a British citizen, male married to a Nigerian and living in Nigeria at the moment We have one biological 10 yr oldchild already who has full British citizenship by birth. We are thinking of adopting a 2 year old here in Nigeria, and would like to know what the procedure would be to register him with British immigration authorities so that he can obtain a passport as well. Can we do this in Nigeria, via the British embassy or do we have to wait to return to the UK to start this process? Thanks Jeff
Jeff - 2-Jan-18 @ 5:53 AM
H - Your Question:
HiI am looking for advise please I have recently been to Zimbabwe volunteering I met and fell I love with a baby that had been found by police abandoned. I have with the support of my colleague who is from Zimbabwe arranged for the baby to be cared for in the local orphanage where I am financially supporting them there but since returning home my husband and family would like to bring the child here to be in our family. I'm looking for signposting to the correct authority's for advise please.

Our Response:
You can adopt a child from overseas if: they can’t be cared for in a safe environment in their own country and the adoption would be in their best interests, the adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by an adoption agency in the UK, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 7-Dec-17 @ 2:59 PM
Hi I am looking for advise please I have recently been to Zimbabwe volunteering I met and fell I love with a baby that had been found by police abandoned. I havewith the support of my colleague who is from Zimbabwe arranged for the baby to be cared for in the local orphanage where I am financially supporting them there but since returning home my husband and family would like to bring the child here to be in our family.I'm looking for signposting to the correct authority's for advise please.
H - 6-Dec-17 @ 10:04 PM
Ama - Your Question:
Hi I have no children and I want to adopt a child from Ghana can you please tell me how to apply for it.

Our Response:
As specified in the article, you can adopt a child from overseas if they can’t be cared for in a safe environment in their own country, the adoption would be in their best interests and the adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by an adoption agency in the UK. Please see link for further information here.
AboutImmigration - 1-Dec-17 @ 11:56 AM
Hi i have no children and i want to adopt a child from Ghana can you please tell me how to apply for it.
Ama - 30-Nov-17 @ 10:42 PM
Imran - Your Question:
Hi there I would like to adopt my nephew from Pakistan and can you tell me what procedure I need to follow in pakistan for adoption and in UK in order to bring him over. I have indefinite leaves to remain.

Our Response:
You can adopt a child from overseas if: they can’t be cared for in a safe environment in their own country the adoption would be in their best interests and the adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by an adoption agency in the UK, please see link here .
AboutImmigration - 30-Nov-17 @ 1:56 PM
@Imran unfortunately the UK does not recognize adoptions done in Pakistan. You will have to adopt the child in Pakistan and once that is complete you will have to apply for an adoption visa to adopt the child again in the UK under UK Law. The process will be a lot smoother if you apply for British citizenship before the adoption. Please also consult an adoption agency for more information.
TJ. - 28-Nov-17 @ 10:30 PM
@Ebun you can apply for the same family visa you have for your daughter as your dependant and when she is in the UK your husband can adopt her in the UK which will give her automatic British citizenship.
TJ. - 28-Nov-17 @ 10:10 PM
Hi there i would like to adopt my nephew from Pakistan and can you tell me what procedure i need to follow in pakistan for adoption and in UK in order to bring him over. I have indefinite leaves to remain.
Imran - 28-Nov-17 @ 7:46 PM
My only child is 11year old and she leaves in Nigeria with my sister,my husband is British and i have a resident permit,i divorce her dad because of domestic violence and relocated to the United kingdom leaving my little girl in the care of my mum but now my mum is very old and can not look after my daughter so she moved to my sister's home in Lagos,she's never seen her dadsince he left us and i take responsibility for her school bills and other upkeep sending money into my sister's account in Nigeria and buying clothes from the United kingdom to send to her,my husband is willing to adopt her as her dad and we are really planning to bring her over here to leave with us,as her is the only happy home we know,please how can we apply for a settlement visa for 11year old girl living in Nigeria?
Ebun - 16-Nov-17 @ 10:01 PM
I am a single lady and I want to adopt two child from Sierra Leone.please could you advise me on how to go through the process.
Mj - 11-Nov-17 @ 10:42 PM
Dear all! Could you support me please with some information on our case: My husband (Swedish) and I (German) are living in London, UK and would love to adopt a child from Germany. What would be the first steps we have to take to get in touch with the right authorities? Is that even possible or would a family living in Germany be preferred? Any idea about a time frame after applying? Thank you so much for advice in advance!! With best wishes
Irene - 5-Nov-17 @ 2:04 PM
Bibi - Your Question:
I want to adopt my niece from Pakistan, who is 13 years old can l adopt him

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here which will tell you more.
AboutImmigration - 28-Sep-17 @ 11:56 AM
I want to adopt my niece from Pakistan, who is 13 years old can l adopt him
Bibi - 27-Sep-17 @ 5:18 PM
Hi.My husband&I are trying to adopt our niece who is just 1 year old.The adoptionprocess is going on in the country where we originally from Fiji. And court hearing for the Adoption is in process too. JUST a question that we need to ask,do we have to apply for the intercountry adoption again??Or if theAdoption has gone through are we able to bring our niece here to UK without any restrictions.?or what elenoa need to be done.??Please do need some advice
Lisa - 29-Aug-17 @ 11:21 AM
MK - Your Question:
Hello,My wife & I are both naturalized British citizens. We have adopted our nephew from India. We have been assessed by the adoption agency, DfE UK & CARA India have approved our case and we also have obtained adoption order from the court.DfE have told us that our case would be processed as a non-Hague one and also they have advised us to apply for a family settlement visa. We would need some assistance in making the application. Basically we would like to know what evidence should be provided in order to prove that the original parents could not care for the child and there has been a genuine transfer of parental responsibility.Thanks.

Our Response:
You can get immigration advice if you need help with getting permission to stay in the UK. Immigration advisers can help you with most things to do with immigration, including helping you to fill in the right forms and representing you at a tribunal. Please see gov.uk link here . Please also be aware there is likely to be a charge.
AboutImmigration - 28-Jul-17 @ 3:03 PM
Hello, My wife & I are both naturalized British citizens. We have adopted our nephew from India. We have been assessed by the adoption agency, DfE UK & CARA India have approved our case and we also have obtained adoption order from the court. DfE have told us that our case would be processed as a non-Hague one and also they have advised us to apply for a family settlement visa. We would need some assistance in making the application. Basically we would like to know what evidence should be provided in order to prove that the original parents could not care for the child and there has been a genuine transfer of parental responsibility. Thanks.
MK - 27-Jul-17 @ 7:40 PM
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