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How To Adopt a Child from Overseas

By IntFormalities
Published on April 13, 2023
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

There are many children in need of a loving home. While it is possible to adopt a child from the UK, some people choose to adopt a child from abroad. This kind of adoption is known as an intercountry adoption.

There are many reasons why someone may wish to adopt from overseas. For example, one motive could be that they have migrated to the UK from another country and want to adopt a child from their country of origin.

In this article, we examine the process of adopting a child from overseas.

The Steps To Successful Adopting A Child From Overseas
To adopt a child overseas, you must contact a UK-based adoption agency through the local council.

When Can You Adopt from Abroad?

International adoption is possible if:

  • Caring cannot take place safely in their country
  • The adoption is in the child’s best interests (for example, if they are an orphan)
  • An adoption agency from the UK has assessed the adopter and deemed them suitable for adoption from overseas

Who Can Adopt a Child Overseas?

If you are aged over 21, you can adopt a child from abroad. You could be single, married, involved in a civil partnership, or a couple who are unmarried (the same and the opposite sex).

You don’t need to be a United Kingdom citizen to adopt. But you must have resided for at least 1 year with a permanent home in the United Kingdom. 

The adoption procedure is not significantly different from adopting a child from the UK, though the adoption agency may charge a fee. You need to contact a UK-based adoption agency through the local council for overseas adoption. You can also contact a Voluntary Adoption Agency (VAA) involved in international adoption. 

In Scotland, the process is different from England and Wales.

Restricted Countries

Overseas adoption is possible in many countries in the world. Adopting from war-torn countries such as Ukraine is permitted. In fact, Ukraine adoption is encouraged. However, there is a restriction from these countries:

  • Cambodia
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Nepal
  • Nigeria

The reasons for the restrictions are outlined in this government-published document. 

Requesting an Exemption

Though the countries listed above are restricted, it is possible to seek an exemption. You can make a request through this link. You will need to provide a compelling reason as to why the restriction should be lifted. It could be, for example, you are adopting a family member

The Different Stages in Overseas Adoption

First, the agency will assess your suitability. If you are deemed suitable, the agency will guide and provide advice on the following steps:

  1. Your application is sent to the UK Central Authority or the Department for Education (DfE) to check eligibility.
  2. The UK Central Authority or the DFE will create a Certificate of Adoption Eligibility and send it along with your application to the appropriate overseas authority. 
  3. Once the matching has occurred, you must visit the child in their country. Confirmation in writing is required to say you have seen the child in person and wish to proceed with the adoption.
  4. There may be a requirement for the adoption court process to occur in another country as well as the UK.
  5. Once finalised, you must make arrangements for entry clearance to the UK.

After a successful adoption, the child will have the same rights as a child already living in the country. For instance, you can take adoption leave or use the childcare options available to parents in the UK. 

Note: Matching refers to the moment when the adoption agency provides details of a child they think you are suited to adopt.  

Registering an Oversea Adoption

Some people adopt while they are overseas without going through the UK process. It may be possible to register in England and Wales’ Adopted Child Register if:

  • The adoption occurred in certain foreign countries
  • The parents were habitual residents in Wales or England at the time of the adoption
  • The parents hold the supporting documents

Cost and Processing Times

From April 2023, there is a cost of £2500 to process the application. The fee is non-refundable and does not include VAT. The VAT in the UK is 20%. The DfE will make contact on how to make the payment once the application is accepted.

These are the fees for England. Here are the contact details to find out the cost for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. 

It should take no more than a few months to accept or reject the application. However, it should be noted, the process of adopting an overseas child from start to finish can take 2 years or more

A Successful Overseas Adoption

There are many reasons why people may seek to adopt from abroad. Sometimes people wish to adopt a child from the country where they are from. On other occasions, people want to make a difference in the world. More steps are involved in an intercountry adoption compared to local adoptions from the UK. Additionally, the journey takes longer. But the process is well worth it. 

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