What you need to know
To adopt a child in the UK, an adoption order must be granted by the court to end the legal relationship between the child and their birth parents and to form a new one between the child and their adoptive parents. The child’s birth certificate is then replaced by an adoption certificate, legally naming the adoptive parents.
In some families, contact – anything from face-to-face meetings to sending an annual letter – between the child and their birth parents or birth family may continue. Whether this happens is decided on a case-by-case basis.
International adoption (also called “intercountry adoption”) can be a complicated process, both legally and procedurally. It is crucial to plan carefully and obtain legal advice, both here and in the child's country of origin, before pursuing an international adoption. Without proper advice, prospective adopters may end up committing a criminal or civil offence, despite acting with the best intentions.
The rules on eligibility to adopt, the procedure for approval and the process for obtaining a final adoption order differ significantly from country to country. For example, some countries have stricter rules than others about foreign nationals adopting children from their state. Detailed information and advice should always be obtained before embarking on any adoption journey so you can avoid unnecessary complications once you start.
Foreign adoption orders are not always automatically recognised in England and Wales, and vice versa. Depending on which countries are involved, it may be necessary to obtain an adoption order in both countries.