Intercountry Adoption

At Aspire Adoption, we can advise, assess and approve prospective adopters living in the local authority areas of BCP Council and Dorset Council who are looking to adopt a child from abroad. The laws on adopting a child from abroad are strict and it is important that you research your eligibility to adopt from the country in question. Be mindful that it can also be an offence to adopt a child from abroad without getting assessed and approved in the UK first.

When considering adopting a child from overseas, you may well have an idea about the country you wish to adopt from. You may already have family connections there or have a history of the country, you might be adopting a child who is related to you or you may not have these prior connections. We can help you to explore all the options available to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I am eligible to adopt from overseas?

To adopt from overseas, you have to make sure that you would be eligible to adopt in the UK which means that you must be over 21 years of age and habitually resident in the UK. A criminal record where you have been found guilty of or cautioned for a prescribed offence (generally offences against or involving children) would preclude you from applying to adopt in the UK or overseas.

Other countries have their own eligibility criteria which are often more detailed than the UK eligibility criteria. For example, some countries have upper age limits, they might only accept married couples, or restrict applications on certain health grounds. They may also prioritise applications dependent on the prospective adopter’s proven links to the country.

The Approval Process

Intercountry adoption is governed by UK legislation and regulations in order to safeguard children, birth families and prospective adopters. If you do not follow the intercountry adoption procedures you may commit an offence.

If you are interested in adopting a child from overseas, and live within the local authority areas of BCP & Dorset Councils, contact us here at Aspire for an initial discussion with an experienced adoption social worker. In doing so, you will also have the opportunity to find out more about adopting a child from this country too. If you still think adopting a child from overseas is the route you wish to go down, we will arrange for one of our social workers to visit you at home to discuss further. The approval process follows the same two stage process as adopting a child from this country.

Stage One

This involves us undertaking the checks we are required to complete as part of any adoption assessment. Your social worker will be on hand to guide you through this process, making suggestions and recommendations where needed. Checks during this stage will include:

  • A full DBS check, to make sure you can safely look after a child (or children) throughout their life. We urge you to be open about anything you feel may come back from this check so that we can discuss the implications in relation to your application at an early stage.
  • Checks with the local authority social care, child protection and education services where you live or have lived.
  • A full medical check with your own GP.
  • Written personal references.
  • You’ll also have the opportunity to attend a preparation course with other prospective adopters.

When these initial checks are back, we will discuss with you about moving into stage 2.

Stage 2

Stage 2 of the process involves a more in depth assessment. You’ll be regularly visited by your social worker, who will talk to you about all aspects of your life, your family, your relationships (past and present), the support you have, your experience with children, and expectations of being an adoptive parent.

Your social worker will visit your referees including family members.

We will also start to talk to you about the child or children you are looking for to become part of your family.

Adoption Panel

On completion of the assessment, your social worker will then write a detailed report called a Prospective Adopters Report (PAR), to include all the information they have gathered during Stage One and Stage Two.

Your PAR is then sent to the Aspire Adoption Panel and you’ll be invited to attend a Panel meeting with your social worker. The Panel makes a recommendation about your suitability to the Agency Decision Maker, a senior manager in Children’s Services. The Agency Decision Maker will decide if you are suitable to adopt.

After Approval

Once you have been approved as suitable to adopt, we will send papers to the Department for Education for processing and for them to issue a Certificate of Eligibility which is then sent overseas to the country you wish to adopt from.

Once your papers have been sent overseas you will be placed on a waiting list. How long you will wait to be matched with a child will depend on each country and the individual children waiting in the country. In general, if you are flexible with regard to gender or are willing to accept a child with special needs the wait for a placement will be shorter.

How long does it take to adopt?

The approval process takes up to 6 months from the time Aspire accepts your Registration of Interest to you being approved as suitable adopters.

How long you would wait for a match with a child will vary from country to country and on a case by case basis and for adoption from some countries you could wait for several years.

Adopting a child from overseas is a long and complex process and it is important to understand that before you start on the journey.

What countries could I adopt from?
Prospective adopters may have close links with a particular country already. However, not all countries place children overseas for adoption and it is not currently possible to adopt from some countries due to the UK placing restrictions on those countries. Aspire can advise you as to which countries are accepting applications from overseas at the time of your enquiry.
Who are the children?
The profile of children varies from country to country depending upon the social context. They can be any age, be male or female, healthy or have special health or other additional needs. It is important to understand however that even children who are deemed healthy at placement may have health, developmental, or emotional needs because of their early life experiences. You will learn more about the children’s needs both short and long term during preparation and assessment.
If I am related to a child do I need to go through this process?
Even if you are related to a child you wish to adopt you must follow the same process outlined above. Immigration rules also apply to children being brought into the country by relatives and this can be a complicated matter. We would be happy to discuss this further with you.
Do I have to travel to the country in order to adopt from overseas?
You will need to travel to the country overseas on at least one occasion. For some countries, you would need to travel there on more than one occasion or be prepared to remain in the country for a period of time. You must also accompany the child into the UK on your return and if you are adopting as a couple, both of you must accompany the child into the UK. It is not possible for the child to be brought to the UK by a carer or other party. Under UK regulations there are clear rules relating to the process from the point of being assessed through to being matched, meeting a child and returning to the UK.
Do I have to pay for an assessment?
Aspire Adoption, like all other adoption agencies assessing prospective adopters, charges prospective adopters for an assessment of their suitability to adopt from overseas. There are many other fees you will also have to meet and these need to be properly researched from the outset.
What support will I get when I return to the UK?
When you return to this country with your child, we will be there to help with any additional requirements depending on the country you adopted your child from. For example, some adoptions overseas are not recognised in this country so you will have to adopt your child again under the legislation in this country.  We will be there to support you in the years ahead too with social events or for help with any additional needs your child may have.
Things to consider with adopting a child from overseas
  • Your ability to be respectful of a child’s culture and religion;
  • Your ability to understand the child’s background and to ensure that they grow up with a full sense of their own identity and heritage.

We are happy to help

Available during office hours on 0300 1239868, email us at, or get in touch below.

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