What does the process entail?
How long does this take?
Do I have to pay for a homestudy?
What kind of children are available for adoption?
What countries can I adopt from?
If I want to adopt a relative does this apply?
Should I identify a child before I start the process?
Will I have to travel to the country I want to adopt from?
UK Laws, Regulations and Links
If you are beginning to think about intercountry adoption you are probably already aware that it is a really complex area and it is hard to find information – so you probably have many questions. We have tried to answer the most common questions in the form of a general guide but this is not exhaustive and does not represent legal advice.
But before we start we want to make it clear that it is simply not true that intercountry adoption is quicker or easier than adopting in this country. In most cases it is longer, often more complex, will involve significant costs and will receive a lot less official support than domestic adoption. It is not to be entered into lightly. However it can also be immensely rewarding and satisfying but is as well to remember that the purpose of intercountry adoption is to provide a family for a child who otherwise would not have one, not a child for a family.
For any advice on immigration issues we strongly advise that you contact a specialist lawyer.
2. What does the process entail?
You will be required to comply with both UK law and the law of the country from which you wish to adopt.
Before embarking on the process you need to have done some basic research. If you join OASIS you will be provided with a new members pack which should give you a firm basis to develop your knowledge.
But first you will need to check you are eligible to adopt. Basically you need to be over 21, not have any criminal convictions and be either a British Citizen or have permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
The process starts when you contact your local Adoption Agency to ask to be assessed. Usually this is your Local Authority (council), although in some areas you may have the option of using the services of a specialist Voluntary Adoption Agency – or indeed your Local Authority may refer you there. Ask for the Adoption team.
The primary UK instrument is the homestudy and it has two purposes.
The first is to assess your suitability to parent a child whose needs may be considerable. In addition to all the elements constant in all adoptions you will also need to have shown how you intend to support your child in their birth culture and as an adoptee.
The second is to help you prepare for the journey ahead.
The Home Study typically consists of a number of interviews with the prospective adopters (including both partners individually if relevant) any children or former partners, and their chosen referees and the submission of financial, CRB and medical checks.
Once your Social Worker has completed his/her report this is then submitted to your Local Authority’s adoption panel who make a recommendation to the Agency Decision maker who has the final decision at local level of your suitability as an adopter and the characteristics of the child(ren) you will be deemed suitable to be matched with.
Your recommendation and paperwork is sent to the Department for Children Schools and Families. Here your application is checked and a Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt is issued. Your dossier may require further notarisation legalisation or authentification (this depends on where you are adopting from) and is then ready to be sent to the country you hope to adopt from.
The process in the overseas countries varies depending on their own laws but in essence once your dossier is received by the relevant organisation it will be checked and if accepted you will be placed on a waiting list to be matched with a child. The time it will take for a match to occur will depend on the situation in that country but you should note that waiting times in many countries are steadily increasing.
In all cases a visa is required to bring the child into the UK. UK regulations also have a bearing on the legal processes overseas. In addition to the laws of the country from which you wish to adopt the key issue depend on whether it has ratified or acceded to the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption, or if not, if it is on the UK’s Designated List. In these cases the adoption made in the overseas country is recognised in the UK. If not, it is necessary to “re-adopt” the child following your return to the UK.
People’s experiences of homestudies vary widely – they are obviously very personal and individual. Some people find them disquieting as they take one to places one may have previously avoided – others find this same process very beneficial. Some people have personal problems with their assessors – others find them to be really productive contacts. A positive attitude which looks at the opportunities for learning and exploring issues is generally more likely to help build a positive relationship.
Unfortunately the preparation element is not always as fully catered for as one might like and thus it is incumbent on adopters to ensure that they join appropriate adoption support groups, including country specific ones, and read as much as they can to build their knowledge base.
3. How long does this take?
This varies but it will take between 8 – 15 months for the Homestudy process The Department of Children, Schools and Families can take a further 3-4 months to issue the Certificate of Eligibility and send your dossier overseas.
How long you will wait for a match will vary from country to country and case to case but in most countries it is getting longer and longer – and you may face a significant wait.
If you need to re-adopt in the the child must have lived with you for 6 months and the whole process can take 12-18 months.
4. Do I have to pay for a homestudy?
Yes you will have to pay up to £6500.
5. What kind of children are available for adoption?
This very much depends on which country you are adopting from. Ages start from young infants. The children are much more likely to have been in institutional care, suffered from malnutrition (pre and post partum), been exposed to significant health and developmental risks and like all adopted children will have distinct and extensive emotional needs. They are more likely to have developmental delays and special educational needs as they get older.
6. What countries can I adopt from?
The countries most prospective adopters made applications to adopt children from in 2009 were Russia, India, Thailand, Ethiopia and China.
7. If I want to adopt a relative does this apply?
Yes you need to go through the whole process and there may be additional requirements as you will need to be able to prove to the Home Office’s satisfaction that adoption is the best option for the child and there were no other practical alternatives in its country of birth.. Immigration regulations are very complex in this area and we would advise seeking professional legal advice. As well as contacting your central authority
8. Should I identify a child before I start the process?
In a word, no. You may not be approved as prospective adopters and to have the child assigned to you will call unnecessary delay. In addition in some countries this goes against their laws and regulations
9. Will I have to travel to the country I wish to adopt from?
At least once and in some cases more often. You may also have to spend some time in the overseas country – sometimes caring for the child and being evaluated.
You will have to accompany the child when he or she enters the UK.
UK laws regulations and links
Department for Children Schools and Families
Adoption and Children Act 2002
The Adoptions with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005
Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption
Home Office guide to immigration regulation