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3.10.5 Inter Country Adoption

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

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.

Since June 2009, the Inter-Country Adoption service for adults resident in the London Borough of Southwark and wishing to adopt a child resident abroad has been contracted to the Inter-Country Adoption Centre (IAC).

This is a full service for Southwark’s residents from the point of enquiry until the child enters the UK with the adopters.

It is open to all Southwark’s resident enquirers, whether they are first time adopters, adopting again, kinship applicants or have already identified (and sometimes adopted) the child in the state of origin.

All applicants benefit from the specialist information, advice and other support services (including specialist preparation) offered by IAC and the assessment fees include the cost of attendance at the waiters’ group and at one adoption support workshop within 2 years of their approval. From time to time, prospective adopters who have been assessed by IAC are also offered the opportunity of free attendance at seminars which are run at this agency.

The current service contract states that the IAC will:

  • Receive enquiries and send out information packs which, amongst other material, will include information about IAC’s Information Days and about the London Borough of Southwark’s need for domestic adopters;
  • Arrange for enquirers to attend an IAC Information Day;
  • If, after attendance at an IAC Information Day enquirers wish to proceed, invite them to a counselling interview for prospective inter country adopters;
  • After the counselling interview, should prospective adopters wish to proceed and should they appear to meet IAC’s eligibility and suitability criteria, will invite prospective adopters to make a formal adoption application to IAC, and will thereafter carry out all aspects of the adoption agency’s inter country adoption duties until the stage at which the child returns with the adopters to England;
  • Inform the London Borough of Southwark as applications reach key stages of the process (for example, withdrawal, Agency Decision Maker’s decision and DfE certificate issued, IRM (Independent Review Mechanism), child match proposed, child due to return to England) and at any stage should the adopters move out of the London Borough of Southwark’s area;
  • Make one post adoption visit on the child’s return to England, which will be a joint visit with the London Borough of Southwark in the event that the local authority is to take responsibility for monitoring and reporting under the Adoption with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005 (FER 2005);
  • Furnish the London Borough of Southwark with such documents as are required for the local authority to undertake its duties under FER 2005, for those adopters and children where the children have entered the UK without a recognised overseas order having been made and for which the local authority intends to take responsibility for monitoring and reporting under FER 2005;
  • Prepare post adoption reports as required by the state of origin in respect of all inter country adopters;
  • Seek adopters’ evaluation of the IAC services they have received;
  • Offer adopters places on one post placement/post adoption workshop, within two years of placement;
  • Be willing to be approached in connection with any Ofsted regulatory inspection of the London Borough of Southwark’s adoption service.

The London Borough of Southwark will:

  • Signpost enquiries from prospective inter country adopters to lAC;
  • Provide IAC with written information about the London Borough of Southwark’s need for the recruitment of domestic adopters (and that of the regional Adoption Consortium if appropriate) for looked after children and details of its support services available to inter country adopters. The London Borough of Southwark will update IAC as and when changes occur;
  • Provide IAC with contact details, as requested, to enable IAC to take up the required checks in respect of inter country adoption applicants resident in the Borough;
  • Undertake post placement monitoring and reporting, as set out in FER 2005, in respect of placements where the child is not the subject of a recognised overseas adoption at the time s/he first returns with the adopters to England.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Adopting a child from overseas (GOV.UK)

Adoption Support Fund (Mott Macdonald / DfE)

RELEVANT CHAPTER

Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adoptive Parents Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in September 2017 by amending Section 11, After Approval. After Approval information has been added on the Intercountry Adoption Forms: checklist for adoption which details the paperwork adoption agencies must include in the inter-country adoption applications they submit to the Department for Education.

In addition, a link to ‘Adopting a child from overseas (GOV.UK)’ has been added. (See Relevant Guidance above).


Contents

  1. Responding to Requests for Information
  2. Initial Meeting
  3. Formal Application
  4. Preparation Training
  5. Health
  6. Checks and References
  7. Home Study
  8. Presentation to the Adoption Panel
  9. After the Adoption Panel's Recommendation
  10. Representations/Review Procedure
  11. After Approval
  12. Matching
  13. Adoption Orders
  14. Post Adoption Support
  15. Placement Breakdowns
  16. Review of Prospective Adopters' Approval


1. Responding to Requests for Information

All requests for information about inter country adoption made by telephone or letter to Southwark Council will be responded to promptly and within 5 working days of the first enquiry. Staff in the adoption service will establish that the caller lives in the borough and if so will give them the contact details for the Inter Country Adoption Centre (IAC).

The IAC staff will provide advice and information about the adoption process.

This will include information about the nature and implications of adoption, the procedures involved in adopting a child domestically and from overseas, the assessment and post-approval process and charges, the checks required in relation to the prospective adopters and members of the household, and the likely time-scale involved. The information will also include expectations of prospective adopters and how the adoption agency prioritises applications to adopt children from outside the UK and looked after children, including how they are referred to other adoption agencies.

The information will also relate to the preparation and support services available to adopters (made available before, during and after adoption), including addresses and other contact points of other agencies that may be able to assist the prospective adopters particularly in relation to any specific requirements of different countries, for example the Department for Education website.


2. Initial Meeting

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-Country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675 


3. Formal Application

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675


4. Preparation Training

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675


5. Health

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675


6. Checks and References

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675


7. Home Study

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675


8. Presentation to the Adoption Panel

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675


9. After the Adoption Panel's Recommendation

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675


10. Representations/Review Procedure

Details covering Sections 2 to 10 inclusive of this chapter can be obtained from the Inter-country Adoption Agency at:

Inter Country Adoption Centre
First Floor
71-73 High Street Barnet
Herts
EN5 5UR

Administration - Tel: 0208 449 2562 
Course Bookings - Tel: 0208 447 4751
Fax: 0208 440 5675


11. After Approval

Following approval, the IAC’s Panel administrative staff will forward to the Department for Education (DfE) the reports presented to the Adoption Panel, the Adoption Panel minute, the Independent Review Panel's minutes (if applicable) and the written notice of the Agency Decision Maker's decision. The documents must be sent by recorded delivery. Once the documents are sent, the adoption service will usually not be involved further with the application, until a child has been identified by the chosen country.

The Intercountry Adoption Forms: checklist for adoption details the paperwork adoption agencies must include in intercountry adoption applications they submit to DfE.

The process is as follows:

  • After approving intercountry adoption applicants as suitable to adopt, adoption agencies must send a completed application to the DfE intercountry adoption casework team;
  • It is recommended that agencies attach the checklist to the front of the application to make sure they send all the necessary documents;
  • The adoption applicant must complete the contact sheet as part of the application;
  • The checklist includes instructions on when to use the disclaimer;
  • The ‘Intercountry adoption and resident status requirements’ guidance is for prospective adopters;
  • Agencies must make sure that the application is complete before sending it to the casework team as the submission of incomplete files will result in delays.

Some countries, notably India and Thailand, require undertakings from the applicants' local authority to be included in the support documents. A letter confirming this undertaking needs to be given to the applicants for the applicants to include with the documents they have to send to the Department for Education.

The Secretary of State will check whether the statutory requirements have been met and will then decide whether to issue a Certificate of Eligibility and Suitability and inform the adoption service and the prospective adopters of the decision. 

The Certificate, if granted, will state that the prospective adopters have been assessed as suitable to adopt and a child adopted by them will be granted leave to enter the United Kingdom subject to Entry Clearance and any immigration requirements.

The DfE will then arrange for the necessary papers to be passed to the relevant overseas authority, which decides whether to accept the application and identifies a child to be matched with the adopters. 

The DfE will confirm in writing to the adoption service and the prospective adopters that the papers have been sent.


12. Matching

The matching part of the process may be the subject of considerable delay depending on the waiting list of the chosen country.

If the authorities in the relevant country approve the application, when a suitable child is available for placement, they should send the papers to the Department for Education, who will in turn send them to the adoption service and the prospective adopters.

Occasionally, the country will inform the prospective adopters directly; they should be advised during the home study to inform the adoption social worker immediately if this happens.

The preparation of the prospective adopters for the adoptive placement should include the adoption social worker assisting the prospective adopters to gain full information about the child, arranging access to a specialist advice as appropriate and stressing the importance of post-adoption reports consistent with any undertakings given to the child's state of origin.

The adoption social worker should then arrange a face to face meeting with the prospective adopters within 10 working days, where this is practicable, to discuss the child before the prospective adopters make a decision or make any plans to travel to meet the child. The prospective adopters should be given information at this meeting about adoption support and the Medical Adviser's view of the child's health needs, as well as counselling about the uncertainty surrounding the child's future needs.

An allocated social worker or practice manager from Southwark will also attend this meeting to ensure any issues and future support needs of the identified child are clearly identified.

Before accepting a child, the applicants must travel to meet the child. Where a couple are applying to adopt, both applicants must travel.

As soon as the prospective adopters have accepted the match, they must notify the adoption agency in writing of this decision. The adoption social worker should notify the Department for Education and advise the prospective adopters to apply for entry clearance for the child, by sending the child's details to the Entry Clearance Officer at the UK Embassy or High Commission closest to the country where the child is living.

Where there are no suitable children to match with the prospective adopters, the overseas authority will notify the Department for Education (DfE), and they will notify the adoption service. An adoption worker will be allocated to inform the prospective adopters and assist them to decide what further action to take, including a further report to the Adoption Panel seeking approval for a different country.


13. Adoption Orders

Designated Countries / Hague Convention Countries

If an Adoption Order has been made in a Designated Country or a country whose adoption orders are recognised under the Hague Convention and specified procedures have been followed throughout, it is recognised under UK law and the child's visa usually states 'for settlement'. The adoption service then has no further involvement other than providing or making arrangements for post-adoption services, and notifying the prospective adopter's GP, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the local education authority (if the child is of school age).

Adoption Orders made in Designated Countries do not automatically result in the child acquiring British citizenship. An application for registration will usually need to be made; application forms can be obtained from the Nationality Directorate of the Home Office or from any British Diplomatic Post.

Non-Designated Countries

The arrangements for the placement will vary from country to country; the prospective adopters will either adopt the child in the child's country or bring the child to the UK for the purposes of adoption in a UK Court. 

If an Adoption Order has been made in a Non-Designated Country, the Order is not recognised in the UK. 

The prospective adopters must seek clearance for the child to enter the UK from the nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. Immigration requirements are set out in the Home Office leaflet on inter country adoption, which is included in the Information Pack. If the Entry Clearance Officer is satisfied that the entry requirements have been met, a visa for a limited period, usually one year, will be issued.

The prospective adopters must notify the adoption service in Southwark Council within 14 days of arriving in the UK with the child of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order (or their intention not to provide a home to the child). This gives the child the status of a 'privately fostered child' until an adoption order is made and the notice should be acknowledged by the adoption service.

The case should be allocated to a Southwark Adoption and Permanence social worker who should notify the prospective adopter's GP, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the local education authority (if the child is of school age) of the child's arrival in the UK. The allocated social worker must meet the qualifications and experience criteria as set out in Adoption Panel Procedure, Reports to Adoption Panel.

The allocated social worker must set up an Adoption Case Record for the child and place on it any information received from the relevant authority in the child's state of origin, the prospective adopters, the Entry Clearance Officer and the DfE.

The social worker must monitor the child's welfare by weekly visits to the family home until the first review, which should be held within 4 weeks of receipt of the prospective adopters' notification. Thereafter the requirement is for the social worker to visit and if necessary, review the placement within 3 months of the first review and then every six months.

The purpose of each review is to consider whether the child's needs are being met and if not, what advice and assistance should be provided; the arrangements for the provision of adoption support and the need for further visits and reviews.

The allocated social worker should advise the prospective adopters of the most appropriate timing of their adoption application. An adoption application cannot be made until the child has lived with the prospective adopters for 6 months or more. It is likely that the prospective adopters will need to apply for an extension of the child's visa, which is usually straightforward if an adoption application has been made.

If no adoption application has been filed within 2 years, a special review should be held to consider the child's needs, welfare and development, the terms of the child's entry clearance and immigration status, the reasons why no adoption application has been made and the options for the child's future permanence.

When the prospective adopters make their adoption application, the Court will notify the adoption service and request that a Court report is produced and supplied directly to the court.

See Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship Guidance for the contents of the report.

When an Adoption Order is made in the UK, it automatically confers British Citizenship on the child provided one of the adoptive applicants is a British citizen at the time the Adoption Order is made.

Where the adopters are not British citizens, they will need to seek clearance to allow the child to remain in the UK, on the same basis as them.


14. Post Adoption Support

Families who have adopted from abroad may be eligible for some post-adoption support services. They should request an assessment of needs by the Adoption and Permanence Team if they require assistance.

See Adoption Support Services Procedure.


15. Placement Breakdowns

If, after the child is placed, the prospective adopters decide not to proceed with the adoption or an Adoption Order is refused or a Convention Adoption order is annulled, the child will become a Child in Need and services must be provided as necessary to meet the child's needs.

The child's social worker must notify the Department for Education.

The child's social worker must assess the child in accordance with the Assessment Framework, including whether it remains in the child's interests to be placed in the UK and be placed with an alternative adoptive family.

Where it is determined that it would not be in the child's best interests to remain in the UK, the child's social worker must notify the Department for Education. The Department for Education will notify the relevant overseas authority, which will make arrangements for the return of the child.

Where it is determined that it would be in the child's best interests to remain in the UK, the child's social worker must take the necessary steps to identify a suitable alternative placement in accordance with Placement for Adoption Procedure and amend the child's immigration status.

Once an adoptive family has been identified, the child's social worker will notify the Department for Education. The Department for Education will advise the child's country of origin of the change.


16. Review of Prospective Adopters' Approval

The requirements for reviewing the approval of approved inter country adopters with no placement is the same as for agency adopters, i.e. every 12 months. See Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adoptive Parents Procedure, Representations / Independent Review Procedure.

This requirement to review continues until (in relation to a Convention country) the prospective adopters have received notification in writing from the central authority that an agreement under Article 17 has been made so the adoption may proceed or (in relation to a non-Convention country) the prospective adopters have visited the child in their country and confirmed in writing that they wish to proceed with the adoption.

End