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6.2.12 Inter Country Adoption


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.


In August 2017, this chapter was updated.


  1. Introduction
  2. The Law
  3. Outline of Process
  4. International law
  5. British Law

1. Introduction

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council recognises its duty to provide appropriate services to people seeking to adopt a child from another country, and aims to ensure that the Department of Health guidance influences the provision of those services.

2. The Law

The law requires that the same adoption practice and professional standards be applied to inter country and domestic adoptions. Blackburn with Darwen Council operates an adoption service that includes inter country adoption.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s adoption service has commissioned the Inter Country Adoption Centre to provide inter country adoption services. The Inter Country Adoption Centre is commissioned by several authorities in the North-West thus ensuring that local experience is concentrated – this is particularly relevant in Blackburn with Darwen as there are historically very few such applications in this area.

Intercountry Adoption Agency provide information on their website.

They will:

  • Provide information about overseas adoption procedures;
  • Offer counselling to those wishing to adopt a child from overseas and to people adopted from overseas;
  • Assess applicants’ eligibility and suitability to be adoptive parents (to the same standards as for domestic adoptions);
  • Monitor placements for adoption once they have been notified of a prospective adopter’s intention to adopt;
  • Treat as a private foster child any child adopted on an interim adoption order that will be recognised once it is made a full adoption order under UK law;
  • Prepare reports for Courts considering applications for adoption when asked to do so;
  • Provide access to post placement services and post adoption support services (although inter country adopters would also be able to access the local authority’s support services locally);
  • As a public authority, Blackburn with Darwen Council Adoption Service has a duty to report any breach, or suspected breach, of the legal requirements of inter country adoption to the Police for investigation as soon as possible.

3. Outline Of Process

The Authority will respond to enquiries about inter country adoption by providing information on both domestic and inter country adoption to give the enquirers enough background to allow them to make an informed choice about their preferred route, ensuring that appropriate advice and information is given about children from Blackburn with Darwen and other parts of the United Kingdom who are in need of adoption.

Enquirers will be given the opportunity to have an informal discussion and have their initial questions answered. They will be encouraged to contact the Inter Country Adoption Centre to fully explore inter country adoption and its implications for them.

The Inter Country Adoption Centre will take the applicants through the full process of adopting from overseas in accordance with the Adoption 22 agreement.

Contact details for the Inter Country Adoption Centre are:

For public enquiries:
Tel: 0208 447 4753

Priority Line For local authorities ONLY:
Tel: 0208 440 2346
Lead Contact: Julie Liebling
Address: 22 Union Street, Barnet, Hertfordshire EN5 4HZ

4. International Law

A number of international instruments provide a framework for the operation of inter country adoption that keeps the interest of the child central to the process and any decisions that are made.

These include:

  • The UN Declaration on Social Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with special reference to Foster Placements and Adoption nationally and internationally, adopted by General Assembly Resolution 41/85 of 3 December1983;
  • The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989;
  • The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Inter country Adoption 1993;
  • Recommendation 1443(2000) International adoption: respecting children’s rights adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 26 January 2000;
  • The European Parliament’s Resolution on improving the law and co-operation between the Member States on the adoption of minors of 12 December 1996.

This legislative framework provides that:

  • Children who cannot live with their birth parents should be either found a placement with a family member or given the opportunity to live with a family within his or her State of origin;
  • Inter country adoption may be considered as an alternative means of providing a permanent family for a child who cannot be cared for in a suitable family in his or her own country;
  • Inter country adoption should take place in the best interests of the child and with respect for his or her fundamental rights;
  • Safeguards and standards equivalent to those which apply in domestic adoption should be applied in inter country adoption to protect the welfare of the child;
  • Profit should not be made from the process.

5. British Law

The Adoption (Inter country Aspects) Act 1999 provides for the regulation of inter country adoption in England, Wales and Scotland. The main provisions of the 1999 Act:

  • Enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Hague Convention (together with similar legislation in Northern Ireland);
  • Amend the Adoption Act 1976 to place a duty on local authorities with social services responsibilities to provide, or arrange to provide, an inter country adoption service;
  • Enable certain children who are the subject of a Convention adoption to receive British citizenship from the date of the adoption (see Section 1 of the British Nationality Act 1981 as amended);
  • Enable those who adopt children in accordance with the Hague Convention or from a designated country to apply to register the adoption at the Office of the Registrar General for England and Wales.

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 amended the Adoption Act 1976 to extend the restrictions on bringing children into the UK in connection with inter country adoption. It inserted new Section 56A which:

  • Extends to those who bring a child into the UK for the purposes of adoption (whether by them or by another British resident) and those who bring a child into the UK who has been adopted outside the UK by a British resident within the last 6 months;
  • Allows the Secretary of State to make Regulations requiring prospective adopters to apply to have their eligibility and suitability to adopt approved and to meet any other prescribed conditions;
  • Imposes a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine upon conviction;
  • Extends to anyone wishing to adopt from overseas including parents, guardians and relatives.

The key pieces of secondary legislation are:

  • The Adoption Agencies Regulations 1983 (as amended);
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  • The Inter country Adoption (Hague Convention) Regulations 2003;
  • The Adoption (Bringing Children into the UK) Regulations 2003;
  • Adoption with a Foreign Element 2005;
  • Adoption Agency Regulations 2005;
  • Children and Adoption Act 2006;
  • The Registration of Foreign Adoptions Regulations.