Parenthood through inter-country adoption should be a joyous experience but the stress of sorting out the legal paperwork in the child’s country of birth and the adoption and immigration law documentation in the UK can make the process nerve wracking. That’s not want you want as new adoptive parents. As a family lawyer specialising in inter-country adoption, I can help you with the legal paperwork involved in adopting from overseas.
Having a legal expert to advise on your international adoption can assist you with:
- Understanding the adoption process – the process in the overseas country you chose to adopt from affects the legal paperwork needed in the UK. Early legal information can help you decide which overseas country is the best option for you to adopt from.
- Sorting the adoption legal paperwork in the UK and giving you an estimate of how long the adoption process might take.
Who can adopt via Inter-country Adoption?
Firstly, you need to know if you meet the eligibility criteria to adopt via inter-country adoption. The law says you can adopt if you:
- Are over the age of 21.
- Haven’t been convicted of any ‘’specified offences’’ (these are certain offences against children and sexual offences).
- Are habitually resident in the UK or domiciled in the UK.
In addition to these basic legal requirements, you must also:
- Be assessed as suitable to adopt by a UK approved adoption agency that is authorised to conduct intercountry adoption assessments.
Comply with the legal requirements for an adoption order in the child’s home country – whilst you may meet the UK requirements you may not do so in the child’s home country. For example, whilst the UK allows adoption by single applicants some countries don’t do so.
Which country should I adopt from?
The decision on where to adopt from is yours to make. For example, you may be particularly drawn to adoption from one country or continent because of your own heritage or life experiences. A good international adoption law solicitor will tell you the easiest countries that you can adopt from and the legal process in your chosen country so you understand your options.
What is the easiest way to adopt a child via inter-country adoption?
Understandably, adoptive parents want to ‘’get on with it’’ when adopting a child from overseas to complete their family. Naturally adopters want to know the easiest adoption route although London adoption solicitors say that it can be worth the wait and extra paperwork to adopt from a particular country of your choosing, even if that isn’t the easiest and quickest way to adopt from overseas.
The easiest route to intercountry adoption is to adopt from a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention on adoption. The other types of inter-country adoption involve more legal paperwork, and therefore delay, although the rewards of expanding your family through intercountry adoption are just the same whatever type of overseas adoption route you chose.
What is a Hague Convention adoption?
A Hague Convention adoption is where you are adopting a child from overseas and the child’s country of origin is a signatory to the Hague Convention on adoption. A Hague Convention adoption is the easiest type of inter-country adoption because:
- Legal recognition – an adoption order made in a Hague Convention country is legally recognised as a valid adoption order in the UK and
- British citizenship – if a child is the subject of a Hague Convention adoption order the child will acquire British citizenship by virtue of the adoption order.
What are the alternatives to a Hague Convention inter-country adoption?
There are two alternatives to a Hague Convention adoption, namely:
- Adoption from a designated country – if you are adopting from overseas and your child’s country of origin is on a designated list then the UK will recognise the legality of the adoption order made in the overseas country. However, unlike a Hague Convention adoption, your child won’t automatically acquire British citizenship by virtue of the overseas adoption order. You will need to apply for British citizenship for your child.
- Adoption from a non-designated country – if you adopt from a country that isn’t on the designated list of countries the adoption order may not be legally recognised in the UK. This means that not only will you need to sort out the child’s immigration status and secure entry clearance, you will also need to apply for an adoption order in the UK to ensure that there is a court order in place to recognise your status as an adoptive parent.
The adoption order process – adopting from a Hague Convention country
Knowing where to start with the overseas adoption process is the key to a successful adoption. There are various stages:
|1||Information gathering||This can include early legal advice from an adoption solicitor to help clarify the different types of international adoption as well as information from an adoption agency on the practicalities of adoption and the adoption assessment and fact finding about the preferred country that you hope to adopt from.|
|2||Assessment||You will need to be assessed by an approved adoption agency. This is referred to as a home study assessment and is carried out by a social worker. The assessment is quite intense as it involves home visits as well as checking your health and personal and financial circumstances. References will be taken.|
|3||Approval||The social worker will prepare a report that goes to the adoption panel convened by the adoption agency. The panel decides if you should be approved as a suitable prospective adopter and the country you can adopt from.|
|4||Certificate||If you are approved as a prospective adopter by the adoption agency your application will be referred to the Department of Education to review. If satisfied, the Department will issue a certificate of eligibility to adopt.|
|5||Matching||The certificate of eligibility to adopt is passed to the central authority of the overseas country that you hope to adopt from. You will then be matched to a child who is available for adoption. The matching process depends on the country you are adopting from.|
|6||The adoption||In a Hague Convention adoption, the adoption takes place in the overseas country and the order is recognised in the UK. You will need the right paperwork to bring the child to the UK.|
The likelihood is that you will have many questions about the legal process of adoption. It is best to ask those questions in advance. As a specialist adoption solicitor, I can help you understand:
- The option of inter-country adoption and whether this route to parenthood is suitable for you.
- The nationality and immigration issues that occur when adopting from overseas.
- The family law issues that arise when you chose to pursue international adoption.