Inter Country Adoption
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to the assessment and approval of applicants resident in the UK who wish to adopt a child who is resident abroad; it also covers the procedures to be followed by the Adoption Service in relation to the placement of a child resident abroad with approved adopters.
For procedures in relation to the placement of a child resident in the UK with adopters resident overseas, see Placement for Adoption Procedure.
This chapter was updated in May 2018 to add links to the DfE Intercountry adoption and resident status requirements and Adoption Support Fund. See Relevant Guidance above.
The London Borough of Merton commission their adoption services externally to the South West London Consortium and sign post prospective adopters to them when they make an initial enquires with them. Refer to the Intercountry Adoption Centre.
The London Borough of Merton expect their commissioned providers to adhere to the guidance and policies as outlined throughout and they will be provided with them, as a reference point.
Applications for overseas adoption can only be accepted from residents of the local authority's area.
Applications will be accepted from couples or single people.
Applicants will be expected to identify one country from which they wish to adopt and should have a good understanding of that country's culture and be able to demonstrate that understanding. Applicants will be expected to bring any adopted child up in the knowledge that he/she is adopted and to preserve and promote the child's identity and cultural heritage.
There is a charge for the assessment process for applicants, which will be determined and shared prior to the assessment ending.
2. Post Placement Duties
The Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973 as amended in 1993 enables adoption orders in countries listed in the Order to be recognised in the UK.
Children from Designated Countries
If an adoption order has been made in a Designated Country, it is recognised under UK law and the child's visa usually states 'for settlement'. The adoption service then has no further involvement other than providing or making arrangements for post-adoption services, if appropriate (see Adoption Support Procedure).
Adoption Orders made in Designated Countries do not automatically result in the child acquiring British citizenship. An application for registration will usually need to be made; application forms can be obtained from the Nationality Directorate of the Home Office or from any British Diplomatic Post.
Children from Non-Designated Countries
The arrangements for the placement will vary from country to country; the prospective adopters will either adopt a child in the child's country or bring the child to the UK for the purposes of adoption in a UK Court.
If an Adoption Order has been made in a Non-Designated Country, the Order is not recognised in the UK.
The prospective adopters must seek clearance for the child to enter the UK from the nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. If the Entry Clearance Officer is satisfied that the entry requirements have been met, a visa for a limited period, usually one year, will be issued.
The prospective adopters must notify the adoption service within 14 days of arriving in the UK with the child of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order (or their intention not to provide a home to the child). This notice should be acknowledged by the Adoption Service.
An adoption application cannot be made until the child has lived with the prospective adopters for 6 months or more. Where the prospective adopters have not complied with all the necessary regulations, the child must have lived with them for at least 12 months.
On receipt of the notification, the adoption service will arrange for a social worker to monitor the child's welfare by regular visits to the family home. The allocated worker must fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria set out in Adoption, Fostering and Permanence Panel Procedure.
An Adoption Case Record must also be set up for the child. Any information received from the relevant authority in the child's state of origin, the agency that approved the prospective adopters (if not the local authority), the prospective adopters, the Entry Clearance Officer and the Department for Education should be placed on the case record.
The allocated worker must send notification of the child's arrival in the UK to the prospective adopter's GP (including a written and up to date health report on the child), the Clinical Commissioning Group and (where the child is of school age) the education service for the area where the prospective adopter lives.
Visits to the child should be weekly until the first review.
The allocated worker should also arrange for the placement to be reviewed within 4 weeks of the receipt of notice of intention to adopt. Thereafter the requirement is for the local authority to visit and review not more than 3 months after the first review and thereafter every 6 months.
The purpose of the review is to enable the local authority to consider whether the child's needs are being met and if not, what advice and assistance may be provided. To do this, the review must consider the child's needs, welfare and development, and if any changes are required to meet the child's needs or assist his/her development; the arrangements for the provision of adoption support and whether there should be a re-assessment of the need for those services; and the need for further visits and reviews.
If the prospective adopters notify the local authority of their intention to move to the area of another local authority, the original local authority must notify the new authority of the child's name, sex, date and place of birth; each prospective adopter's name, sex, date and place of birth; the date the child entered the UK; the date of the notification to adopt; whether an adoption application has been made and if so, the stage of the proceedings; and any other relevant information.
The allocated social worker should advise prospective adopters of the most appropriate timing of their adoption application. It is likely that the prospective adopters will need to apply for an extension of the child's visa, which is usually straightforward if an adoption application has been made.
When the prospective adopters make their adoption application, the Court will notify the Adoption Service and request that a Court Report is filed and served to the court.
If no adoption application has been filed within 2 years, a special review must be held. This review must consider the child's needs, welfare and development, and if any changes are required to meet the child's needs or assist his/her development; the arrangements for the exercise of Parental Responsibility in relation to the child; the terms of the child's entry clearance and the child's immigration status; the arrangements for the provision of adoption support and whether there should be a re-assessment of the need for those services; the arrangements for meeting the child's health care and educational needs; the reason why no adoption application has been made; and the options for the child's future permanence.
When an Adoption Order is made in the UK, it automatically confers British Citizenship on the child provided one of the adoptive applicants is a British citizen at the time the Adoption Order is made.
Where the adopters are not British citizens, they will need to seek clearance to allow the child to remain in the UK, on the same basis as them.
3. Post Adoption Support
Families who have adopted from abroad are eligible for assessment for adoption support as set out in Adoption Support Procedure.
4. Placement Breakdowns
If, after the child is placed, the prospective adopters decide not to proceed with the adoption or an Adoption Order is refused or a Convention Adoption Order is annulled, the child's social worker must regard the child as a Child in Need and assess the child within 7 days in accordance with the Assessment Framework, including whether it remains in the child's interests to be placed in the UK and/or to be placed with an alternative adoptive family.
The child's social worker must notify the Department for Education of the outcome.
Where it is decided that it would not be in the child's best interests to remain in the UK, the child's social worker must notify the Department of Education. The Department of Education will notify the relevant overseas authority, which will make arrangements for the return of the child.
Where it is determined that it would be in the child's best interests to remain in the UK, the child's social worker must take the necessary steps to identify a suitable alternative placement in accordance with the Placement for Adoption Procedure and amend the child's immigration status.
Once an adoptive family has been identified, the child's social worker will notify the Department of Education. The Department of Education will advise the child's country of origin of the change.
5. Review of Prospective Adopter's Approval
The requirements for reviewing the approval of approved inter country adopters with no placement is the same as for agency adopters, i.e. every 12 months - see Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure, Review of Prospective Adopters' Approval.
This requirement to review continues until (in relation to a Convention country) the prospective adopters have received notification in writing from the central authority that an agreement under Article 17 has been made so the adoption may proceed or (in relation to a non-Convention country) the prospective adopters have visited the child in their country and confirmed in writing that they wish to proceed with the adoption.