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I have been told that it is an expensive and lengthy process to adopt a child from abroad.­ Is this true?

Yes.­ The process can be lengthy, at least two years and involving several meetings here and abroad with adoption agencies, and can be very expensive.

My child was adopted elsewhere in the UK.­ Will it automatically be recognised in England?

Yes.­ An Adoption order made in Scotland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland is automatically recognised in England.­

My child was adopted in another country.­ Will the adoption be automatically recognised in this country?

Yes, if the child has been adopted in a country which is either a contracting state to the 1993 Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation with respect of Intercountry Adoption (and the adoption followed its requirements) or listed in the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973.­ Details of these countries are on the UK government websites.­ An adoption order made in any other country will not be recognised and you will need a UK adoption order in order to be recognised as the child’s parents in this country.­

How can I find out about the process of adopting a child from abroad?

One of the best places for guidance is the government Intercountry Adoption website, which contains excellent guides and fact sheets.

We have been abroad and want to bring a child back into this country to live with us. The child’s parents agree to the child living with us permanently and we have been told that if we pay a sum of money to the parents of the child, we can bring the child into England and we can then legally adopt the child.­ Is this correct?

Absolutely not.­ If the correct procedures have not been adhered to before you bring a child into this country, you may be guilty of committing a criminal offence both here and abroad.­ The offence carries a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.­ The child may be sent back home or placed in care.­ Offences such as these are regarded as very serious.­ All adoptions must be processed through a legitimate Adoption Agency.­

Payments to adopt children are illegal.­

What if the country where the child lives does not have a formal adoption system?­ Can I adopt the child simply by going through the legal process in that particular country and then bring the child into England legally?

If the country where the child has its habitual residence does not have an adoption procedure in place that completely severs the legal ties between the child and the birth parent, an application for a UK adoption order will be necessary to the English High Court.­ The Court will then determine whether a full adoption order should be made or whether the child should be returned to the country concerned.­

You should bear in mind that time is of the essence and you should take legal advice very quickly and before you go to the other country.­ Ensure that you carry all the relevant documents abroad with you at all times and also that you have a copy of the written consent of the child’s parent (s).­ We cannot emphasise enough that it is imperative that you take advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in this very complex area of family law.­

Are there any immigration issues?

Yes and they are very important.­ It is essential that you secure the appropriate permission or a visa for the child to enter the country.­ This will depend on whether the foreign adoption order is recognised in this country or UK court proceedings will be necessary.­ Always ensure you have taken immigration advice before coming to this country with a child adopted abroad.

Do the same issues apply with surrogacy abroad?

Although there are some common features e.g. public policy against perceived payments for buying a child abroad, there are very different aspects.­ There are only a few countries where international surrogacy occurs to any extent.­ Payment for reasonable expenses is allowed.­ A UK parental order should always be obtained.­ It is a specialist area and good legal advice should be taken at an early stage in making any international commercial surrogacy arrangements.­/p>


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