Adopting from abroad

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster City Council have a combined adoption service which includes intercountry adoption. The intercountry adoption service is open to residents living within the three boroughs and is provided in conjuction with a voluntary adoption agency, the Intercountry Adoption Centre.

Intercountry adoption is a complex process that involves the adoption of a child who is habitually resident in one country by an individual or couple who are habitually resident in another country. The intercountry adoption process in the UK is governed by international conventions to which the UK is a signatory, and UK legislation and regulations including the Adoption and Children Act 2002. Prospective adopters are further required to comply with the law in the child’s country of origin.

At the heart of the process is the child, and the primary purpose of the conventions and legislation is to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, as well as safeguard birth families and prospective adopters.

Intercountry adoption may be considered for a child in circumstances where the child cannot be cared for safely and appropriately by their birth family or any other permanent family in the child’s country of origin. It is essential that it is clearly evident that intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests, and that birth parents have given informed consent to the adoption of their child after its birth. In cases where the child has been abandoned, or birth parents are unable to safely care for their child, there needs to be evidence that an appropriate authority in the child’s country of origin have deemed that intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. Intercountry adopted children, similar to children adopted domestically, will present their adoptive families with challenges arising from their individual needs and the circumstances surrounding their need to be adopted.

People who are habitually resident within the UK and are considering adopting a related child who is habitually resident in another country are required by UK law to adhere to the same adoption process as non-related prospective adopters.

There may be occasions when The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, The London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, or Westminster City Council is the child’s country of origin and a plan is made to place a child for adoption overseas. This would most likely occur when a child’s relatives or other adopted siblings are residing in another country.

The intercountry adoption process is a highly complex and often lengthy process that incurs significant costs, and offers no certainty of a successful outcome in terms of adopting a child and bringing them back into the UK. 

For further information and advice please contact the Adoption Recruitment and Assessment Team on 0800 781 2332.