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Wanting to adopt from overseas

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It is easiest and best for you if you understand the overseas adoption and immigration process so in this blog we look at the initial steps for those wanting to adopt from overseas.

If you want to adopt from overseas it can be difficult to know where to start. As specialist family and immigration solicitors we are used to advising those interested in adopting from overseas. The legal advice can start either from before you start the adoption process to our experts taking urgent instructions from worried parents about re-entry into the UK with their child and concerns about immigration or adoption law .

UK and overseas adoption and immigration solicitors

For advice and information about overseas adoption from the UK or for answers to your family and immigration law questions call the adoption and immigration law experts at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. We offer appointments at our central London offices or by video conference, Skype or telephone appointment.

Should I adopt from overseas?

If you live in the UK and wish to adopt a child from overseas then it is best to get professional advice before you commit to the idea of an overseas adoption. That is because some believe that overseas adoption is the easiest route to securing the longed for child. Family and immigration solicitors will tell you that adoption from overseas isn’t always straightforward and that is why it is best to know what the overseas adoption process entails so that you can weigh up your alternatives and make an informed decision about the best adoption, surrogacy or other route to parenthood for you.

By taking early immigration and adoption law advice you can avoid some of the immigration law issues that can crop up if you go into an overseas adoption without first doing your research.

By taking legal advice not only will you have a better understanding of the overseas adoption process and timescales but you will also know the correct procedures to follow. If you don’t follow the correct procedure you could unwittingly commit a criminal offence.

Should you adopt from overseas? As adoption and immigration law solicitors we have been privileged to help arrange many adoption orders and sort out UK entry clearance for children to start their new lives in the UK. There is nothing quite so rewarding as to help a parent adopt a child from overseas but the whole overseas adoption process is a lot easier for parents to cope with if you understand the process and the steps to overseas adoption.

What is the overseas adoption process?

The best way to look at the overseas adoption process is to break it down into stages:

1. Consider if adoption the best route to parenthood for you and look at the option of adopting from within the UK and weigh up the different processes and timescales.

2. Research a country to adopt from as if you are interested in an overseas adoption it is best to research the country that you would like to adopt from. That may be a straightforward decision for you as if you are from a particular heritage you may therefore want to adopt a child from your country or continent of origin. If you are not sure where you want to adopt from then it is best to take advice from an adoption agency authorised to help with intercountry or overseas adoption. An adoption agency can help you make sure that overseas adoption is the best route for you to parenthood and talk to you about the countries where there are children currently available to adopt.

3. Take legal advice as once you have thought about where you would like to adopt from it is best to take legal advice to understand whether your preferred country is what is known as a ‘’Hague Convention country’’. If the country that you want to adopt from has signed up to the 1993 Hague Convention on inter-country adoption then the adoption order made in the overseas country will be automatically recognised in the UK and the child will obtain British nationality automatically on the grant of what is referred to as a ‘’convention adoption order’’.

If the country that you want to adopt from isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention then if the country is one where the UK recognises adoption orders made in that country then you won't need to re-apply to adopt the child once you are back in the UK but you will need expert immigration law advice to understand your immigration options as the child won't automatically acquire British citizenship because of the overseas adoption order.

If the country you prefer to adopt from isn’t signed up to The Hague Convention and the UK doesn’t legally recognise an adoption order made in the overseas country then you might need to apply for adoption in both the overseas country and in the UK. You will need to understand your immigration law options to secure entry clearance for the child.

UK adoption and immigration solicitors say that it is possible to adopt from non-Hague Convention countries but the adoption law and/or immigration process may be more difficult or take longer. That may be acceptable to you if you have a particular preference about the overseas country that you want to adopt from, or understand your choices and have planned and understood the  adoption and immigration  law actions needed, but many parents go into an overseas adoption without realising the significance of their choice of country to adopt from.

4. Check to see if you are eligible to apply for an overseas adoption as there are legal requirements that you will need to meet. You will be eligible to put yourself forward for an overseas or inter-country adoption if you are over twenty one years of age and you have not have been convicted of any  specific criminal offences against children or  sexual offences and you are habitually resident or domiciled in the UK. If you are not a British citizen then you may need legal advice about your habitual residence or domicile and to check the legal requirements. That is because for some overseas adoptions you must have been habitually resident in the UK for at least twelve months before the adoption application.

5. Secure approval for an overseas adoption from a UK adoption agency that handles intercountry adoption. The adoption agency won't just check your age. They will carry out a full home study assessment to make sure that you will make a suitable adoptive parent. The agency social worker will look at things such as your health, support networks, your background and your ability to meet a child’s physical, emotional and cultural needs as well as your personal and financial circumstances. The assessment could take eight weeks to complete as it doesn’t just involve home visits to you at your family home but also background and medical checks and the taking up of references in support of your adoption application. You will also need to meet the adoption eligibility rules of the overseas country that you are planning to adopt from.

6. Obtain adoption panel approval as the home study report is not the end to the initial stage of the overseas adoption process. The assessment of you as a suitable adoptive parent is presented to the relevant UK agency adoption panel. The panel will recommend if you should be approved as a suitable potential adopter and, if so, for which overseas country. The agency then makes a final decision and if the panel recommends you as suitable then you can pass onto the next stage.

7. Securing a Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt. If you have been approved as a prospective adopter then your application will be sent to the Department for Education (this is the UK's Central Authority for adoption). They will review the paperwork. If the department is satisfied they will issue you with a certificate of eligibility to adopt. This certificate will be sent to the overseas adoption Central Authority

8. Matching your adoption assessment to an overseas child is the next stage in the overseas adoption process. It isn’t possible to set out how the matching process works as it depends on the country that you are applying to adopt from. You will however be invited to visit the child in the child’s home country.

9. Sorting out the family and immigration law aspects of the adoption. The final stage in the adoption process is sorting out the adoption order and bringing your child to the UK. The legal steps required will depend on whether the country that you chose to adopt from is a signatory to the Hague Convention and, if not, if the country is on the designated list of countries where the UK will accept the overseas adoption order as legally valid.

Depending on the overseas country, you may need to apply for an adoption order in the overseas country that is legally recognised in the UK or you may need to apply for an adoption order in both the overseas country and an adoption order in the UK.

Immigration and entry clearance for the child is just as important. That is why it is best to check if your child will acquire automatic British citizenship by virtue of the overseas Hague Convention adoption order and you just need a passport for the child or if you need immigration clearance to then regulate the family law and immigration issues once you are back in the UK.

It is important to know the likely timescales and potential immigration pitfalls so that you can prepare yourself and your family for the likely overseas adoption process.

UK overseas adoption and immigration solicitors

The children and family law team of specialist children and  adoption lawyers at OTS Solicitors  work with in-house immigration law experts to answer your international  children law and overseas adoption order questions. Call us on 0203 959 9123 or complete our ONLINE ENQUIRY FORM so we can set up a Skype, video conference or telephone appointment for you.

OTS Solicitors are recommended for immigration law in the two leading law directories, Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession and The Legal 500. If you choose the friendly and efficient team of adoption solicitors to help you they will ensure that the adoption and immigration process is as speedy and hassle free as possible for you and your family.

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