How Can I Adopt Abroad and What Countries Can I Adopt From?

How Can I Adopt Abroad

**Collaborative post**

There are children all over the world who need people to adopt them, and once you know how to do it and where to look, the process is easier than it seems…How Can I Adopt Abroad?

If you’re reading this post, it’s safe to say you’re considering adopting a child from overseas. So, how can you go about this, is the process simple, and where should you look for your new family member?

With adoption being so difficult in the UK, adding another country into the mix by adopting abroad isn’t something most people would consider. However, the process isn’t all that bad and, in this post, we’re going to show you why that is.

Firstly, we’re going to layout the requirements you need to adopt abroad so you know whether you’re even eligible. We’re then going to explain how the process works, before helping you decide what countries to adopt from. 

What Are the Requirements to Adopt in the UK?

The criteria for adoption in the UK are quite broad, as the only absolute legal requirements are that you’re:

  • Over 21
  • Have not been convicted of any specified offences (those against children and sexual offences)
  • Habitually resident or domiciled in the UK (in some cases, the country you adopt from will require you to have been a UK resident for at least a year)

What Are the Requirements to Adopt Abroad? How Can I Adopt Abroad?

To adopt abroad, you must be eligible for adoption in the UK and the country you’re adopting from. So, if you meet the above requirements, you’re already halfway there.

The criteria other countries ask for is varied, but generally, they will allow a child to be adopted if:

  • The child isn’t being cared for in a safe environment in their own country
  • The adoption would be in the best interests of the child
  • The adopter (you) has been assessed as suitable to adopt from overseas by a UK adoption agency

Getting Help to Adopt Abroad

Speaking of adoption agencies, to adopt abroad you need to speak to a voluntary adoption agency that deals with these cases specifically. You can also speak to a specialist solicitor who will talk you through the legal aspects of adopting a child from overseas

Both agencies and solicitors will likely charge a fee for their work, so make sure it’s something you’re willing to pay for. Also, to process your application to adopt abroad, the Department for Education charges a fee of £1,975, which is also worth keeping in mind.

How Does the Process Work?

Now that you have an idea of whether you’re eligible to adopt abroad, and some of the associated costs, it’s time to look at what you’ll actually have to go through.

As with UK adoption, the first thing you need to do when adopting a foreign baby is to get in contact with a specialist adoption agency. Once you’ve spoken to them and decided you want to move forward, you can formally apply to be assessed. Here’s how the process will go from there:

1. Home Assessment

Once you put yourself forward for assessment, a social worker will be assigned to you to check whether you meet the UK’s adoption regulations. This can take six to eight months, including:

  • Home visits
  • Background checks
  • Preparation groups
  • Personal references
  • Medical checks

2. Panel Approval

Your social worker will then collate all the information they’ve gathered into a Prospective Adopters’ Report which will be presented to your UK agency’s adoption panel.

The panel consists of around 10 experts, all of whom have appropriate experience in adopting abroad. After receiving the report, they make their deliberations on whether you should be approved for adoption, and which country you should be approved for.

If you’re turned down for any reason, you can appeal the decision in a number of ways, one of which is the Independent Review Mechanism.

3. Certificate of Eligibility

Being approved a prospective adopter means your application will be passed to the Department for Education (DfE) for review, which is where they charge you the fee we mentioned earlier.  

If DfE is satisfied, they’ll issue you with a Certificate of Eligibility to adopt, which you can pass to the relevant authority in the country you wish to adopt abroad from. 

4. Matching with a Child Overseas

Now that you’re certified to adopt in the UK, you can start approaching foreign countries to adopt a child there. The country you approach will do their best to match you with an appropriate child, but it all depends on the rules that apply there.

Despite the country you choose to adopt abroad from, they will require you to visit the child you propose to adopt and engage with your UK agency as things move forward. 

5. The Legal Process and Immigration

Depending on where you’re adopting a foreign child from, you will either need to apply for adoption there or bring the child back to the UK and adopt them here. You’ll need a British passport for the child to enter the UK before you travel or entry clearance. 

What Countries Can you Adopt Abroad From? 

Now we know what the requirements are needed for you to be able to adopt abroad and how the process works. So, the only thing you need to decide now is what country you want to adopt your child from.

How Can I Adopt Abroad

With the COVID-19 pandemic still working its way through various countries around the world, many countries are closed for overseas adoption. However, children are still waiting for parents, so once they open up again you can be ready and waiting. 

So, what countries are open for international adoption and which are the most common to adopt from in the UK? Here’s a quick list to get you started:


India has always had close links with the UK, and it offers adopters the opportunity to adopt a child of the same racial and ethnic background as them. Also, India, like many of the countries listed below, have signed the Hague Convention.

The Hague Convention puts safeguards in place to make sure all intercountry adoptions are in the best interests of the child and respects their human rights. Any country that signs it guarantees these safeguards for their adopted children. 

Here’s what you need to be eligible to adopt abroad from India:

  • Single adopters and married couples can adopt.
  • Any married couple with a combined age of 90 years and below, or a single adopter of 45 and below, may adopt a child up to four years of age.
  • Married people of the age of 100 combined and below, and single people of 50 and below may adopt a child between four and eight years of age.
  • Married people aged 110 combined and below, and single people of 55 and below may adopt a child between eight and 18 years of age.


China has also signed the Hague Convention and has been allowing people from the UK to adopt abroad from their country for a long time. China, however, will only let you adopt a child up to the age of 13, unlike India where they allow you to adopt older children. 

To be eligible to adopt a foreign baby from China these requirements must be met:

  • Single adopters and married couples may adopt.
  • Adopters must be at least 30 years old, so much older than the UK’s limit of 21 and up.
  • If a couple is adopting a child together, and the older partner is over 50 years old, the younger partner cannot have an age gap with the adopted child of more than 50 years e.g. a 100-year-old can’t have a 70-year-old partner and adopt a 13-year-old. 
  • The age difference between a single adoptive mother and the adopted child should be no more than 45 years.

South Africa

Another Hague Convention country, South Africa, have children of all ages looking for adoption. That said, they are currently prioritising those looking to adopt children over the age of three, and some with medical issues and special needs.

Eligibility to adopt abroad from South Africa includes:

  • Single adopters, straight couples, and same-sex couples are eligible to adopt, making it one of the few options for LGBTQ+ people.
  • Prospective adopters under the age of 45 can adopt a child under two years of age, between 45-50 years a child of two to three years, and between 50-55 years a child over the age of three.

Other Countries

This is by no means an extensive list of all the countries you can adopt abroad from. However, these should give you an idea of how the requirements change dependant on the country you’re adopting from.

A good rule of thumb is to look at all the countries signed up to the Hague Convention when making your decision on where to adopt from. 

Unfortunately, the UK has banned adoption from the following countries, so you’ll have to look elsewhere: 

  • Cambodia
  • Guatemala
  • Ethiopia
  • Haiti
  • Nepal

Is That All You Need to Know to Adopt a Foreign Child?

In this post, we’ve discussed what the requirements are to adopt abroad, how the process works, and shed some light on the countries you can adopt from.

We’ve covered all the basics you need to get you started on your journey to adopting a foreign baby. Anything you don’t know, we’re sure you’ll learn along the way. 

Thank you for reading this post, and good luck adopting abroad!

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