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Looking at Adopting from Abroad

May 22, 2019 Family Law


What is adoption?

Adoption is the formal legal process whereby all rights and responsibilities of a child are transferred onto an adoptive set of parents permanently.

Adoption is exclusive to children under 18 who have never married or entered a civil partnership. It makes the child a full, permanent, and legal member of the new adoptive family.

As such, the adopters become the child’s legal parents following an adoption order as granted by the court. Such a court order is irrevocable and therefore can only be reversed under extremely rare circumstances.

Adoption transfers legal rights from birth parents to adoptive parents, who often give their surname to the adopted children. This differs from fostering, a temporary arrangement with families other than the child’s own.

Unlike adoption, foster children often maintain regular contact with their families and may even return to them. Fostering is not meant to be permanent, though some foster children may be adopted by their foster parent or another family.

Overseas adoption

Overseas adoptions can be complex in nature since each country often has different rules in place. It is therefore necessary to consider whether a specific country permits intercountry adoption before deciding to adopt a child from overseas.

A child may be adopted from abroad if their welfare cannot be sustained within their own country and an adopter has been assessed and approved by an adoption agency within the UK. Overseas adoption is similar to UK adoption, with additional possible fees.

Furthermore, there is an additional step in an overseas adoption which does include a visit to the child in their own country by the adoptive set of parents. However, there is much information to assist prospective adopters through the Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC) which can be accessed online as well as the Scottish public services website also.

Additional charges

While adoption agencies can’t charge for arranging adoptions, adopters may bear additional costs like court fees and police checks. Inquiring about these expenses in advance and potential agency assistance is advisable.

In the majority of overseas adoptions, various adoption agencies may charge the adoptive set of parents for the home study which involves local authority social work, disclosure and medical checks as well as interviews.

The Scottish Government imposes a means-tested intercountry adoption fee. Additional costs include travel to the overseas country, document translation, and necessary health checks.

Therefore, it would be advisable in all circumstances to consider all the relevant costs before deciding to adopt a child from overseas.

Overseas adoption criteria

To adopt a child abroad, potential adopters must meet specific conditions, including being at least 21 years old and can be single, married couples, a current parent, or a gay individual with or without a partner. Researching country-specific requirements is essential, as additional restrictions based on age, sexuality, or marital status may impact the application

In all circumstances, there should be relevant research undertaken by the adoptive parents in relation to the country where they wish to partake in an overseas adoption.

Extensive research into a particular country and its accompanying adoption process will avoid any unnecessary complications or unknown costs to the adoptive set of parents throughout the process.

Furthermore, an investigation into a country on the part of the adopter’s displays a keenness to fully comply with the appropriate adoption process.

To assess your suitability to adopt overseas, it is first necessary to contact a registered Scottish adoption agency which will then arrange for the home study to be carried out.

As mentioned above, a home study considers checking your medical and criminal records, your finances, supporting evidence from people who know you on a personal level as well as further assessment by social work to ensure that you have an environment fit for an adoptive child.

Following the home study, your suitability will be deemed to see if you are eligible or not to facilitate an overseas adoption.

If successful, you’ll pay a £1,675 fee to the Scottish Government, potentially reduced for incomes below £45,000. No fee is required for incomes under £25,000, while those earning between £25,000 and £45,000 pay 50% (£837.50).

After fulfilling all fees, the uk government issues a ‘certificate of eligibility’ for overseas adoption.

Once certified, matching with a child may take years due to application volume and available children. Post-match, visitation is crucial, as some countries mandate an adoption court process.

In certain cases, immigration approval and an adoption order from the child’s birth country are necessary for entry into the UK.

Adoption abroad should not be disregarded as a result of fees or the complex nature in relation to specific countries. Having undertaken the necessary research, overseas adoptions can be both straightforward and rewarding for both the adoptive child and adoptive parent.

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