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A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws
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A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws

Updated: 15 May, 2024

By Rakhi Singal

Rakhi Singal is Founder, Director and Head of Family Law at RVS Solicitors. Studying at Bournemouth University and BPP Law School, Rakhi quickly gained a profile in the industry for her work. After creating and successfully managing the Family Law & Civil Litigation department at a leading Legal 500 law firm in London, a role that she was headhunted for, she got the idea to create a law firm in her own image. RVS Solicitors was created and has subsequently helped hundreds to achieve their legal goals, start new futures and obtain justice. A highly regarded family lawyer in the UK, Rakhi gained industry recognition for her relentless attitude, negotiation skills and her ability to always stay calm under pressure and provides a high level of expertise, knowledge and service to our clients every day.

Adoption is always a time of joy, but also of worry and sleepless nights. It’s a culmination of your journey to becoming parents, however, it can also be very nerve-wracking, especially if there is also an international element thrown into it. This article aims to address some questions you may have regarding International Adoption. 

International adoption is becoming less and less common nowadays due to most children around the world being able to find a home in their home country, but nevertheless, there are still thousands of children waiting to find a loving family. 

It is a fundamental right for a child to find a family and if they cannot find a family within their own country, they have a right to find a family out of their borders. It is a very complicated, lengthy, and expensive process and you need to make sure you are able to give the child financial and emotional security.

There are many criteria that both the UK and whichever country you are looking to adopt from will have. Some common criteria that countries are likely to include regarding eligibility are age, marital status, income and health. Certain countries have much more strict requirements than others.

To understand the adoption procedures, you will need to find out whether that country is a Hague convention country or a country on the designated list. If you wish to adopt a child from a country that does not fall into either category, you will have to apply for adoption in both places: the country in which the child resides and the UK, you will also need to plan for the child’s immigration route. Our team of dedicated family and immigration lawyers, will guide you through the entire process. 

Contact us today, to see how we can help.

What Countries Are Open For International Adoption to the UK?

Theoretically, it is possible to adopt a child from any country, so long as that country allows international adoption, you fulfil that country’s criteria, and most importantly, you fulfil the UK’s criteria regarding international adoption.  However, there are certain countries that the UK does not allow adoption from. At present, the UK has restricted adoption from the following countries: Cambodia, Guatemala, Nepal, Haiti, Ethiopia and Nigeria. 

It is possible to request an exemption, and you must set out the reasons in writing why your case is exceptional, you will need strong reasons such as adopting a relative.

Conversely, some of the most popular countries that people from the UK adopt from are China, India, South Africa and the Philippines. But it is important to be aware that there can often be very long waitlists of many years to find your child. 

The Hague Adoption Convention

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption is an international treaty designed to promote the best interests of children, birth families and adoptive families in adoptions between participating countries. A country that has signed up to the 1993 Hauge convention on International Adoption will mean that an order for adoption in either the UK or the other convention country will be recognised in both. This means you will not need to make two separate applications. Your adopted child will also automatically acquire British nationality on the grant of a conventional adoption order.

Adopting from a Hague Convention country is not compulsory, but it is far easier. Adopting from a non-Hague convention country is often more complex, time-consuming, and expensive. In addition, British citizenship is not automatically granted from the non-Hague route. This means that you will need to apply for your child to immigrate to the UK.

Some examples of Hague countries include China, India and South Africa.

Some examples of non-Hague countries include South Korea and Uganda.

How Much Does International Adoption Cost?

Unfortunately, International Adoption is by no means cheap. The costs can be in the order of tens of thousands. The types of costs you need to consider are registration and application fees, legal and court fees, agency fees, flights for when you visit the child’s country, accommodation, travel insurance, immigration-related fees.

These fees will all vary on a case-by-case basis and there is no exact number that is easily available to base your calculations on, that is why it will be very important to talk to an advisor to gain more detailed assistance. In addition, it is also important to remember the costs of caring for and raising the child are even greater. 

How Long Does International Adoption Take?

Firstly, before considering countries or children, you will need to be approved as a suitable potential adoptive parent in the UK before applying for adopting a child from the country of their nationality.

This process is lengthy and takes a minimum of a year to finalise. After which, the waiting times vary greatly and depend on the country the child lives in and so do the timings for the application process afterwards, it is likely to take anywhere between 1-5+ years. 

International Adoption for Gay Couples 

Whilst there are not many, there are some countries that allow LGBT+ couples to adopt a child but it is important to note that the options are very limited.

Much of the world is still fairly closed off to the idea of same-sex couples much less, same-sex couples being able to be a parental unit in adopting children, so there are very few countries that accept this. Much of Europe, Canada, South Africa, Brazil and Australia are some of the few countries that you may wish to consider and like with heterosexual couples, the same eligibility criteria apply.

International Adoption Lawyers

We, here at RVS Solicitors, have a team of Family Law specialists with years of experience handling all manner of family law issues, including adoption. Our Family law solicitors will provide you with all the information and guidance you need to ensure the adoption process runs smoothly. 

We understand just how complex, confusing and time-consuming legal matters can be, that is why our goal is to minimise this for you, leaving you free to enjoy quality time with your new family. 

In our approach to clients, we think it extremely important to simplify matters as much as possible, guide you through every step of the process, as well as be there for you whenever you need us, so that you can get back to focusing on things that matter. Being a smaller, close-knit firm, we can offer you a level of support that is incomparable to that of larger firms due to their size and outdated approach. And you can rest assured knowing that a senior Solicitor will be working on your legal matter from beginning to end. 

We are confident in our abilities and our clients & successes speak for themselves, check out our client testimonials here.

Contact our experts in Family Law
A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws
Director & Head of Family Law
Please call us on 020 3372 5125 or get an online consultation
A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws
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A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws A Comprehensive Guide to International Adoption Laws