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Adopting a child from overseas

Adopting a child from overseas is similar to that of adopting a UK child but with some additional processes.


If you wish to adopt from overseas you are expected to not only meet with one of our social workers but also to attend a consultation day arranged by the Intercountry Adoption Centre. This is a voluntary organisation that works with families who wish to, or have adopted a child from overseas. There is a charge for attendance at this day, which is approximately £150 per person. After attending the information day, if you still wish to proceed, you will need to confirm this with us. A social worker will be allocated to undertake an initial visit to determine whether it is appropriate for you to proceed with a full adoption assessment.

It is just as important that children from overseas are placed with adopters who understand the issues and are considered safe, as it is for UK children. Overseas adoptions are subject to the same preparation and vigorous assessment as domestic adoptions. Applicants wishing to adopt from overseas follow the same process as domestic adoptions up to their approval.

In addition, parents of children from overseas need to be aware of the challenges of raising a child from a different culture who does not look like them. You also need to be aware that there may be very little information about your child and this might have implications for the future. You are required to attend preparation groups run by the Intercountry Adoption Centre in London. This will give you the opportunity to share the experience with like-minded people and to meet with social workers who specialise in overseas adoptions. However, there is a charge for these courses. You will need to decide which country you wish to adopt from before completion of the prospective adopters’ report.

Once an application has been approved your details will be sent to the Department for Education (DfE). There is currently a charge of approximately £1,700 for the processing and administration costs of this service. The DfE arrange for the notarisation of the approval documents but you may have to make separate arrangements for the notarisation of other documents.

There are various procedures that the DfE have to follow (the papers go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for legalisation, sometimes to embassies, and sometimes for translation, depending on each country’s requirements). After this, the DfE will have issued a Certificate of Eligibility and the documents will then be sent to the relevant agency in the child’s country, who will consider your application. If it is approved then that agency will identify a child and will usually send the papers to the DfE, who will then send copies on to both you and your assessing social worker who will discuss the information with you.

You will then have to travel to meet the child. If you are applying as a couple then you both must meet the child before entry clearance in the UK will be agreed. You should apply for UK entry clearance as soon as you have read the details, met the child and accepted the placement. You also have to fulfil the conditions and requirements for the adoption hearing (or equivalent) in the child’s country of residence. Following the adoption (or equivalent) in the child’s country of residence, you can then complete the UK entry clearance procedure. You and your child can then travel to the UK.

All countries have different (although usually similar) procedures for adoption and this continues after your return to the UK. You will be advised on those procedures throughout the process.

Your social worker will continue to support you until your child has been re-adopted in the UK (if this is required), or until the country of origin no longer requires follow up post placement reports.