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Adopting a Child from Abroad

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 13 Jul 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]
@A.M. - If your daughter is below the age of 18, you can engage any registered adoption agency or solicitor to assist you with the process of getting a UK adoption order which make your daughter an automatic British citizen.
TJ. - 13-Jul-18 @ 4:37 PM
My partner is British and wants to adopt my daughter, who is an American citizen. However, we have been living in the UK for 5 years now. Can you please advise us as to the best course of action?
A.M. - 13-Jul-18 @ 1:25 PM
@Ric - Embassies cannot issue adoption orders. For the adoption to be recognised and for the child to become a British citizen, a UK court will need to give the adoption order.
TJ. - 5-Jul-18 @ 2:16 AM
I am a UK citizen who works in Asia I will be adopting my vietnamese step daughter (via the vietnamese authorities) later this year. As vietnam is not a member of the Hague convention am I still able to register the adoption with the embassy? Is my step daughter allowed to enter the UK education system?
Ric - 5-Jul-18 @ 1:08 AM
RO - Your Question:
I am a British citizen and I leave in UK, my sister passed away living her 2 young children who I have been taking care of them financially in nigeria, while my mum who lived with them is now too ill to look after them, as ashe a result the kids are not goingredients to school. I want to adopt them and brig them back to live with me in uk. Could you please advice me on what to do and how to do it.RO

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, which should help answer your question further.
AboutImmigration - 4-Jun-18 @ 2:49 PM
I am a British citizen and I leave in UK, my sister passed away living her 2 young children who I have been taking care of them financially in nigeria, while my mum who lived with them is now too ill to look after them, as ashe a result the kids are not goingredients toschool. I want to adopt them and brig them back to live with me in uk. Could you please advice me on what to do and how to do it. RO
RO - 4-Jun-18 @ 12:52 AM
I adopted a child in Pakistan and granted by the court to be the guardian.I am Britishcitizen.What should I do to bring my son in here.
Ronnie - 6-May-18 @ 10:42 PM
None - Your Question:
I would like to adopt a child from Guyana how long the process will be if I apply in the uk

Our Response:
You can see more via the link here , which should further help answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 17-Apr-18 @ 12:37 PM
I would like to adopt a child from Guyanahow long the process will be if I apply in the uk
None - 16-Apr-18 @ 8:53 PM
Sally - Your Question:
Hi me and my husband are thinking of adopting a child from India. We both live in uk, I am a British and my husband is still an Indian citizen. My q is for us to adopt would we have to go through a local adoption agency here or could we go to India and start our process there?

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here , which will tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 16-Apr-18 @ 1:45 PM
KRM - Your Question:
My wife and I want to adopt from India( wife's sister's child), we are both UK citizens living in London. Please advise what options could be available ? Thanks

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here, which should help answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 16-Apr-18 @ 11:40 AM
My wife and I want to adopt from India( wife's sister's child), we are both UK citizensliving in London. Please advise what options could be available ? Thanks
KRM - 15-Apr-18 @ 9:36 PM
Hi me and my husband are thinking of adopting a child from India. We both live in uk, I am a British and my husband is still an Indian citizen. My q is for us to adopt would we have to go through a local adoption agency here or could we go to India and start our process there?
Sally - 14-Apr-18 @ 9:44 PM
@Glen - If both you and your wife are residents in the UK then those two children will automatically become British citizens as soon as you have an adoption order from Belize. You can apply for their British passports after you get new Birth certificates for them.
TJ. - 8-Mar-18 @ 9:01 PM
My wife and I are adopting two boys from Belize and will have an interim adoption order processed by the courts there on 16 March. Can you advise what entry clearance I need to apply for to bring them to the UK? My wife and I are British citizens from birth. We have the relevant 17(c) agreement between Belize and the DfE. Please help as I am getting varying advice and I don’t find the gov.uk is that useful!
Glen - 8-Mar-18 @ 5:26 PM
@Ify - Adoptions completed in Nigeria are not recognised in the UK so you will have to also receive an adoption order from a UK court after which the child will become a British citizen. You can use government recognized adoption agencies to assist you with this.
TJ. - 7-Mar-18 @ 7:05 AM
I adopted a child from my country Nigeria with all the adoption process completed ..I want to ask if I require to get court order or make same application like I did with Nigeria..I read that Nigeria is one of the disgnated country listed ..So my question is I want to bring my child over..how do I go about it..?i am British citizen .
Ify - 6-Mar-18 @ 7:34 PM
Am ku British citizen I have a kid in Ghana but separately from my wife just wanna bring child in uk how will I do that thanks
Money - 2-Mar-18 @ 2:20 PM
@Ca Ga - Unless your child becomes an Italian citizen when you complete the adoption you will need to apply for a visa before the child can come to the UK. The most suited visa will be an EEA family permit if the child does not become an Italian citizen after the adoption.
TJ. - 28-Feb-18 @ 4:28 PM
We have Italian citizenship and we live in the UK but we have no permanent residence. We have started the adoption procedures in Italy, we will have all the checks completed there and we will adopt the child with the decision of the court. Our country is in Hague Convention and I read above that the adoption is recognized automatically in the UK. Do I need to do anything else when I bring the child in the UK?
Ca Ga - 27-Feb-18 @ 9:33 PM
Nabeela - Your Question:
I jst wana knw is sponsorship for blood relations is finished for UK or not.if not den plz snd me proper link for details.

Our Response:
Yes, restrictions on family visas have been made over the years under the Conservative and Coalition Governments. The only family visa options are listed via the link here, which should tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 20-Feb-18 @ 3:01 PM
I jst wana knw is sponsorship for blood relations is finished for UK or not..if not den plz snd me proper link for details..
Nabeela - 20-Feb-18 @ 4:52 AM
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
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