Intercountry Adoption

The whole world is in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic at the moment and sadly those children waiting for adoption will now face a longer wait for an adoptive family.  Unicef estimates that there are 140 million orphans in the world and this number could grow. Intercountry Adoption requires prospective adopters to be approved as suitable in the UK and then have their application processed by the country of choice.  This means that the process can take a minimum of a year, but usually longer, depending upon the country involved.  So whilst this is an uncertain time, in many ways it is a good time to begin the adoption process as we have taken all our services to digital platforms and are therefore able to work flexibly with those appliying to adopt right now.

IAC has assisted many families to adopt a child or children from overseas. We have seen that no two adoption stories are ever the same, for us or for the family. The knowledge we have accumulated from working all over the world, as well as our professional networks and links overseas, has equipped us to support prospective adoptive parents throughout their journeys. We are the only specialist intercountry Adoption Agency in the UK.  We provide our services in partnership with local authorities so if you live in one of these areas we can work with you. A full list of where we currently work is available via where do you live but if you live outside of these areas we may still be able to help.


Some families come to IAC very clear about which country they wish to adopt from. You may have family connections locally, or are originally from that country or connected to it through heritage or work.  You might be adopting a child who is related to you. Others are less certain and seek guidance to help explore their options. When adopting a child from overseas, prospective parents need to be respectful of a child’s culture, particularly if it is not the same as their own. They must be willing to learn about and understand their adoptive child’s background to ensure that they grow up with a full sense of their cultural heritage. We know this leads to children and young people being much more confident about their adopted status.

When adopting from abroad, it is important to note that you must be eligible to adopt both within the UK as well as from the relevant country overseas. Sometimes that country’s eligibility criteria might be different to the UK’s, so the first step for potential adopters is to check their eligibility by contacting the Advice Line. The FAQ section may also answer some of the basic questions.  You may also need to take further legal advice, outside of IAC, before making next steps.

IAC works with many individuals seeking to adopt from many countries around the world but not all are ‘open’ for adoption – some because the country itself does not wish to place children overseas and others because the UK currently restricts adoption from a country, due to concerns about the processes in country. Cambodia, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Haiti and Nepal are currently restricted.

In addition to a standard intercountry adoption service we offer a specialist service to assist families to adopt from a number of countries where IAC is accredited with that country, meaning we can be more proactively involved in adoptions of children from the country. These are our Special Programme countries and currently we have special programmes with India, South Africa, People’s Republic of China (for special needs children), The Philippines (for children in the special homefinding categories), Bulgaria and Kazakhstan. Please note that applications, as of January 2021, remain paused for Kazakhstan, whilst changes to adoption regulations  are made in the country.

Generally, children adopted from overseas carry the legacy of their time spent in orphanages or institutions, where they often cannot be given consistent one-to-one care. Though many flourish when placed with their adoptive families, others may have health or emotional issues as a result.

IAC offers a comprehensive range of services for intercountry adoptive parents, both before and after adoption. This section of the website provides information about the services we offer at all stages of your journey. Follow the link to The Intercountry Adoption Process for more information.

Being approved to adopt a child from overseas entails a similar process to that which is undertaken when adopting a child from the UK. The one fundamental difference, however, is that anybody seeking to adopt a child from abroad must pay for the services themselves as there is no government funding available to IAC to undertake the work to prepare and assess prospective adopters.  The reason for this difference is that the government funds local authorities to find adoptive homes for the children in the UK care system that cannot return home, and chooses to give to children in need who are abroad through other international aid programmes.

The cost to apply to adopt is generally in the region of £10000-£15000. There are also additional charges that apply in intercountry adoption to process paperwork with the governments both here and abroad, as well as travel and accommodation costs.

It is therefore important that you fully consider the financial implications before beginning the process. The Information Pack for Intercountry Adoption details the current service charges. To obtain a pack complete the Contact Us form.