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Adopting a Child from Abroad

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 30 May 2017 | 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]
somi - Your Question:
Hi.my husband and I are UK citizen and are looking to adopt a child (less the a year old ) from Pakistan this year (2017), Can you guide us for the procedure like, time scale, costs, documentations if he needs passport etc. looking forward to hear from you. Many thanks

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link herewhich should tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 31-May-17 @ 10:46 AM
hi.....my husband and i are UK citizen and are looking to adopt a child (less the a year old ) from Pakistan this year (2017), Can you guide us for the procedure like, time scale, costs, documentations if he needs passportetc..... looking forward to hear from you.. Many thanks
somi - 30-May-17 @ 12:17 PM
I would like to adopt my nephew from Pakistan I am uk resident My hubbie has limited leave to remain
Rara - 6-May-17 @ 9:26 PM
We are close to an Afghan family of refugees living in Germany. They have had their asylum application turned down twice and face deportation back to Afghanistan where they face persecution or death. They have asked us to adopt the two children to basically save them. Is this possible and where do I start??
Lottie - 4-May-17 @ 7:02 PM
Hi I realise I would have to go through checks to see if I am a suitable adoptive parent first - that aside (considering I am suitable and tick all the boxes) I am wondering how it works with children who are currently still living with their birth parents? I am a mother myself, financially stable enough to take on her adoption... I have met a 15 year old girl from UAE through online support groups, she is currently being abused both verbally and sexually and because of her culture is terrified to talk to anybody to make it stop. Although living with her birth parents she's currently unsafe and it would be in her best interest to be removed from that situation.. if she was taken into care, would she be able to be adopted by someone overseas? Any feedback appreciated
Poppy - 1-Apr-17 @ 1:28 AM
Brem - Your Question:
I am a single and I want to adopt a child from Pakistan. I want to know what the process is and how long this will take me. Do I need to be in a relationship to adopt or can I be single.

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here.
AboutImmigration - 28-Mar-17 @ 12:53 PM
I am a single and I want to adopt a child from Pakistan.. I want to know what the process is and how long this will take me. Do I need to be in a relationship to adopt or can I be single.
Brem - 27-Mar-17 @ 6:59 PM
Jazz - Your Question:
Dear memers, The reason I brought it up here is because it is immigration related. As my sister is subject to border control. Please I need help on how to go about adopting my half sister from Africa. We share the same dad but different mums. Our Dad passed away 8 years ago. My step mum has since taken care of her. Although things have been really rough for them since dad died, my step mum is now no where to be found. My half sister is curently living with extended family who find her a burden. She is 15. 16 in July. I am currently a British citizen with 2 kids of my own. Am I able to adopt her and bring her here to live with us? If so what do I need to do, and how soon can she join us?It breaks my heart to know that she might not be wanted over there when I would love to look after her and make our dad smile from above.I look forward to your reply/ies. Kind regards Jazz

Our Response:
It is very important to understand that it is illegal to adopt a child from overseas and bring them back into the UK (even if it is a relative) without being assessed and approved as suitable adoptive parents - please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 20-Mar-17 @ 10:32 AM
Dear memers, The reason I brought it up here is because it is immigration related. As my sister is subject to border control. Please I need help on how to go about adopting my half sister from Africa. We share the same dad but different mums. Our Dad passed away 8 years ago. My step mum has since taken care of her. Although things have been really rough for them since dad died, my step mum is now no where to be found. My half sister is curently living with extended family who find her a burden. She is 15. 16 in July. I am currently a British citizen with 2 kids of my own. Am i able to adopt her and bring her here to live with us? If so what do I need to do, and how soon can she join us? It breaks my heart to know that she might not be wanted over there when I would love to look after her and make our dad smile from above. I look forward to your reply/ies. Kind regards Jazz
Jazz - 19-Mar-17 @ 12:24 AM
Hi I'm Spanish citizen and my wife is British citizen couple of years ago my cuzan got divorced and have 2 kids she couldn't afford so I send her money every month .i would like to adopt her kids .what is the process ?
Shani - 26-Feb-17 @ 5:29 AM
i got adopted in this country in 1995 what nationality am I if I hold a British adoption birth certificate please , I was born in malaysia
Sharan - 24-Jan-17 @ 1:15 AM
Hi, my sister passed away in Jamaica andshe a little girl at the age of 2 at the time, my other sister and brothertook her, her father died after 4 years of her mum dying. My brother died 2 years after, and my sister that is looking after her died 4 months ago. My mum i would like to adopt her to the UK. What the best way to go about it?please .
Levy - 15-Jan-17 @ 5:08 PM
Lizzy - Your Question:
I am a British citizen, I recently adopted my niece in Nigeria, but I discovered it is not on the list of designated countries, so what can I do to bring her to live with us in the UK.

Our Response:
The Coram Legal help centre here may be able to point you in the right direction, as it offers free legal advice.
AboutImmigration - 9-Nov-16 @ 11:33 AM
I am a British citizen, I recently adopted my niece in Nigeria, but I discovered it is not on the list of designated countries, so what canI do to bring her to live with us in the UK.
Lizzy - 8-Nov-16 @ 5:06 PM
Hi! My husband and I are british citizen and we adopted our niece back home .We have done already the domestic adoption and we have the court finality order/decision. HCan We apply for ENTRY CLEARANCE so we can bring over in UK our adopted daughter?Thanks
Mehul - 1-Nov-16 @ 7:28 PM
Konibk - Your Question:
Hi there I am desperate for advice. I have a sister who lives in Ethiopia and she had a 5 year old son. My husband and I are both British citizens. Unfortunately my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years and and now she is terminally ill. The father of the child is not on the picture and never was. To cut the story short now my sister is in her last stage of secondary liver cancer. We are hoping to adopt her son to give him a better full loving family life. Where do we start and is this hopeful? Is it a lengthy process? We want re assure my sister that when she is gone her son will be well looked after. We r very desperate for any advice. Thanks , koni

Our Response:
Please see gov.uk link here which should point you in the right direction.
AboutImmigration - 21-Oct-16 @ 12:51 PM
Hi there I am desperate for advice. I have a sister who lives in Ethiopia and she had a 5 year old son. My husband and I are both British citizens. Unfortunately my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years and and now she is terminally ill. The father of the child is not on the picture and never was. To cut the story short now my sister is in her last stage of secondary liver cancer. We are hoping to adopt her son to give him a better full loving family life. Wheredo we start and is this hopeful? Is it a lengthy process? We want re assure my sister that when she is gone her son will be well looked after. We r very desperate for any advice. Thanks , koni
Konibk - 20-Oct-16 @ 10:21 PM
Saf - Your Question:
Hi me and my husband have been trying for a baby for more than 8 yrs now. Recently my brother in law who has 6 children told my husband that his wife is pregnant this was a unplanned pregnancy, they are from pakistan and he has a less than average salary, he is from a poor village. They have spoken to us about adopting their unborn child, what is the procedure I need to take and roughly how long before the child is born do I need to get paperwork ready or do I need to wait until the baby is born?

Our Response:
It is very important to understand that it is illegal to adopt a child from overseas, even if it is a relative, and bring them back into the UK, without being assessed and approved as suitable adoptive parents. You can see more via the International Adoption Guide link here .
AboutImmigration - 26-Sep-16 @ 10:07 AM
Hi me and my husband have been trying for a baby for more than 8 yrs now. Recently my brother in law who has 6 children told my husband that his wife is pregnant this was a unplanned pregnancy, they are from pakistan and he has a less than average salary, he is from a poor village. They have spoken to us about adopting their unborn child, what is the procedure i need to take and roughly how long before the child is born do i need to get paperwork ready or do i need to wait until the baby is born?
Saf - 25-Sep-16 @ 12:20 AM
I am Kuwaiti student living in the UK, but would probably go back home in January 2017 for marriage wedding and job requirment. Me and my husband are planning to adopt a baby girl (age: less than a year) by summer 2017/2018 What is the process? Is it allowed to bring the adopted child to Kuwait? Please reply as soon as you get this message. Thank you.
Fatemah - 19-Aug-16 @ 1:12 PM
Hi! My husband and I are british citizen and we adopted our niece back home .We have done already the domestic adoption and we have the court finality order/decision. The only thing is the country I came from it was recognized by Hague Convention but we didnt do on that process instead it was domestic adoption!Can We apply for ENTRY CLEARANCE so we can bring over in UK our adopted daughter?Thanks
Nee - 4-Aug-16 @ 7:35 PM
Hello. I have a daughter from my younger years 2001 and now I am married to a wonderful man that will like to adopt her and be a father to her as her biological father is unknown and has no contact whatsoever. My baby is in Nigeria with her granny and we are trying to get her here to join her family. What do we go about this please?
Nikki - 3-Aug-16 @ 3:14 PM
Akua - Your Question:
I am a British citizen by birth and a female my question is my girlfriend is pregnant and she is a ghanaian and lives in Ghana what are the enquiries for her to come to the UK for the birth of our baby?

Our Response:
You would have to satisfy the eligibility criteria laid out in the gov.uk link here to be able to apply.
AboutImmigration - 7-Jul-16 @ 2:57 PM
I am a British citizen by birth and a femalemy questionis my girlfriendis pregnantand she isaghanaianand lives inGhanawhat are the enquiries for her to come to the UK for the birth of our baby?
Akua - 7-Jul-16 @ 1:55 AM
I am a British citizen by birth and my girlfriend who is pregnantwith out child who is a ghanaian and livesin Ghana what are the enquiries for her to come to the UK for the birth of our baby?
Akua - 7-Jul-16 @ 1:50 AM
Hi im from malaysia and i just want to know how can i adopt a child from uk
Syawal - 5-Jul-16 @ 2:12 AM
Ben - Your Question:
Hi there, I was hoping for some advice. My wife and I are British living in the UAE and we are about to finalise the adoption of a wonderful little boy from Ethiopia. We'd love to take him back to the UK to visit family on a regular basis - what is the process for applying for a long term visit visa and how long does it normally take?Thank you,Ben

Our Response:
If you are British citizens then you will be able to apply for your child (under 18 years of age) to be registered as a British citizen, for example if you’re a British citizen but your child was born or adopted outside the UK. Please see link here. This will make it much easier for you as British parents.
AboutImmigration - 24-Jun-16 @ 12:38 PM
Hi there, I was hoping for some advice. My wife and I are British living in the UAE and we are about to finalise the adoption of a wonderful little boy from Ethiopia. We'd love to take him back to the UK to visit family on a regular basis - what is the process for applying for a long term visit visa and how long does it normally take? Thank you, Ben
Ben - 24-Jun-16 @ 8:07 AM
AnneFau - Your Question:
HelloI am an EU citizen living in the UK and I would like to adopt a child from Colombia. I am already in contact with the Governemental Agency for my application to adopt there. They are asking if UK accept children from Colombia as part of Hague Convention. Would you have the response?Also do I need to follow additional procedure? Many thanks Anne

Our Response:
You may be able to find the information you need via the gov.uk site here. I hope this helps.
AboutImmigration - 22-Jun-16 @ 10:17 AM
Hello I am an EU citizen living in the UK and I would like to adopt a child from Colombia. I am already in contact with the Governemental Agency for my application to adopt there. They are asking if UK accept children from Colombia as part of Hague Convention. Would you have the response? Also do I need to follow additional procedure? Many thanks Anne
AnneFau - 21-Jun-16 @ 5:25 AM
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