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The Adoption Process in the United Kingdom

This information is a supplement to the general adoption process with specifics about the process for citizens of the United Kingdom (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland).

A. Homestudy - You will have your homestudy conducted by your local authority social services department. In some cases, the local authority may delegate responsibility for performing the homestudy to a licensed adoption society. The Department of Health does not permit prospective adoptive families to commission a homestudy with a private social worker. Families seeking a homestudy often face a waiting list of several months, and then the process itself can encompass up to six months or longer. You must decide on the country from which you wish to adopt during the homestudy process.

If the homestudy social worker issues a favorable report, it must then be reviewed and approved by panel and signed off by the social services department decision maker. The report then goes to the Department of Health for endorsement. Before the Department of Health, the report must also be approved by the Scottish Office, the Welsh Office, or the Northern Irish Health and Social Services Executive if you live in one of those countries.

We generally recommend that families wait until they have cleared panel before applying to adoption agencies.

B. Supporting Information - You will need to provide a “dossier” of additional documentation to support your homestudy. Some of these items will be provided directly to the Department of Health by the local authority, while some will need to be collected by you. Your adoption agncy will give you full details and assistance regarding these documents after you have registered.

All documents will need to be individually notarized and then legalized by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and, in some programs, by the Embassy of the country from which you are adopting. The Department of Health will take care of legalization for you, though you will be responsible for the costs of this procedure. Your dossier will be dispatched directly to the country from which you are adopting by the Department of Health. It is at this point that we will begin the process of identifying a child referral for you.

C. Immigration Procedures - Once you have traveled to your child’s country and finalized the adoption there, you will need to petition the British Embassy for your child’s entry clearance (visa) to the United Kingdom. This is accomplished by submitting various documents to the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) at the British Embassy.Your adoption agency will supply you with the Immigration and Nationality Directorate’s publication, Intercountry Adoption, which will list the documents required for your child’s visa. Most of these documents will be generated as part of the adoption finalisation process in your child’s country, and Cradle will ensure you have all necessary documents in hand, with English translations when applicable.

Once the Entry Clearance Officer has all required documentation, he will consult with the Department of Health in London, who will advise if a U.K. adoption order would likely be granted. The ECO will then adjudicate the entry clearance application and issue an entry visa for the child. Though this process can take up to two weeks, it is typically completed within five business days.

D. Once you are home - Our programs which are available to U.K. citizens are in countries that are deemed “non-designated” under the British Adoption Order of 1973. This means that the U.K. does not recognize adoption orders issued by authorities in these countries. As such, you will need to re-adopt your child in a U.K. court to obtain a U.K. adoption order. This leads to automatic U.K citizenship for the adopted child. An adoption order cannot be granted before your child has residing with you for one year. During this time, your local authority social services department will conduct post-placement supervision, culminating in a Schedule 2 report for the U.K. court proceedings. Post-placement reports must be provided to your adoption agency for presentation to adoption officials in the country from which you adopted per the regulations of that country.

We thank Cradle of Hope for generously supplying this page of great adoption information for KIR - visit them at