Adoption is the formal legal process whereby all rights and responsibilities of a child are transferred onto an adoptive set of parents permanently. Adoption can only occur in respect of a child under the age of 18 years old who has never been married or entered into a civil partnership before. This transference results in a child becoming a full, permanent and legal member of their 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. It completely rids a child’s birth parents of any legal rights and responsibilities of which are now held by the adoptive set of parents and as a result a child usually takes on their adopter’s surname also. Adoption is therefore distinct from fostering which places children with other families other than their own on a short-term or long-term basis but only temporarily. Unlike adoption, foster children may still have regular contact with their own families and in many cases may even return to them. Fostering therefore is not intended to be a permanent arrangement although some foster children may eventually be adopted through their foster parent or another family.
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 adoptions 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. The overseas adoption process is therefore not too dissimilar to a UK adoption although there may well be other fees involved. 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.
Although an adoption agency itself cannot charge fees for arranging the adoption of a child, it can incur other costs including court fees and police checks which will then be put onto the adopter. However, it is possible to enquire about these types of cost beforehand and if an agency is likely to provide any assistance in meeting these costs. In the majority of overseas adoptions, various adoption agencies may charge the adoptive set of parents for the home study which involves social work, disclosure and medical checks as well as interviews. Moreover, the Scottish Government even charges an intercountry adoption fee although this is means-tested and therefore dependent on an adopter’s income. Other potential costs that should be realised are those travelling to and from the overseas country, the translation of any particular documents and any such health checks that are required. Therefore, it would be advisable in all circumstances to consider all the relevant costs before deciding to adopt a child from overseas.
In order to adopt a child from overseas, there are strict conditions that must be satisfied. As such, a potential adopter must be aged 21 or older but can be either single or in a couple, a parent already else a gay man or woman either with or without your partner or spouse. However, it would always be advisable to thoroughly research the specific conditions pertinent to the country in which you wish to adopt from since there may well be other restrictions relating to age, sexuality or marital status which could affect your application.
In all circumstances, there should be relevant research undertaken by an adoptive set of 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 for an overseas adoption, 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, and referrals 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 as successful or not to facilitate an overseas adoption.
As such, you will pay a fee of £1,675 to the Scottish Government if you are successful although this fee may be further reduced if your household income is less than £45,000. Therefore, no fee is required for an adopter whose income is less than £25,000 whilst only 50% of the full fee (£837.50) is required by an adopter whose total household income is between £25,000 and £45,000 per year.
Therefore, after all fees have been satisfied, the Scottish Government will issue a certificate which proves that you are able to adopt from abroad and this document is labelled a ‘certificate of eligibility’. Thereafter, you may be matched with a child by the country that you have sent your application to although this can take several years dependent on the level of applications and also the number of children that are available for adoption.
Finally, following a match between an adopter and a child from overseas, visitation becomes important since some countries may require that you go through an adoption court process within the relevant country. In some cases, a child may even need immigration approval to enter the UK therefore an adoption order from their country of birth becomes necessary.
Thus, adopting a child from 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 adopter and the child.
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