Adopting a child from the UK
To adopt a child, they must be under the age of 18 years and have never been married or in a civil partnership. You can adopt a child if you:
are single or partnered (same sex and opposite sex);
are over 21 years of age;
have residency within the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man; and
have lived in the UK for at least one year before starting the application process.
To begin the application process, your local council or voluntary adoption agency should be your first port of call. Once you’ve started the application process, you can generally expect the approval process to take 6 months. As part of this approval process, you’ll need to:
- attend preparation classes;
- have a social worker carry out suitability assessments, to be reviewed by an independent adoption panel;
- pass a police check, which will check your records against serious offences;
- pass reference checks; and
- complete a full medical examination.
If you’ve been approved to adopt, you can start checking the Adoption Register for England or the National Adoption Service for Wales for a child to adopt.
If you haven’t been approved to adopt and you’d like to challenge the adoption agency’s decision, you can either write to them or ask for a review by the Independent Review Mechanism. Alternatively, you can start the process again with a different adoption agency.
Adopting a child from overseas
Much of the process for adopting a child from overseas is the same as adopting a child from within the United Kingdom. There are, however, some different rules that govern this process. The adoption will only be allowed where:
- it is in the best interests of the child;
- there is no safe environment for the child in their own country;
- you have visited the child in their own country;
- the assessment has been approved by the overseas adoption agency; and
- you have been approved by a UK adoption agency.
It should also be noted that the UK has restrictions on adoption from the following countries:
If you would like to adopt a child from one of the restricted adoption countries, you must explain your reason in writing to the Intercountry Adoption Team, who will assess and make a decision about your request.
When you should seek legal advice
If you’ve adopted a child and moved overseas, the adoption may not be recognised. The adoption laws you must adhere to will depend on which country you’re recognised as a resident in and whether or not the adoption is considered legal there.
To officially relinquish your residency status from the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man and formally have your adoption recognised under another country’s laws, you may be required to give a sworn statement in front of a solicitor.