Getting Started

Adoption as a way to create or grow your family requires motivation, patience and persistence.  IAC will help you to understand and navigate the processes here in the UK and the country you choose to adopt from.  Attending intercountry adoption Information Sessions, along with contact with our expert Advice Line will enable you to find out more about what is involved in adopting a child from abroad.

Anyone living in the UK and considering intercountry adoption is welcome to attend an intercountry adoption Information Session run by IAC.  However, the Advice Line is only available to prospective adopters where your home Local Authority has a partnership with IAC to run their services.  You can see the full list of our partner authorities via where do you live.  If you live in a Local Authority which does not partner with IAC, their Adoption Service has a legal duty to provide you with advice and information.  

However, we may still be able to work with you if you:

  •  have already adopted a child abroad 
  •  want to adopt from a country with which IAC has a Special Programme
  •  wish to adopt a child resident overseas, to whom you are related

The service we will be able to offer you will depends upon  the agreement with your Local Authority so if we cannot work with you we will still try to signpost you to the correct services.

If you are resident in a partner Local Authority where IAC does offer an assessment service, then once you have attended an Information Session, you can request an Initial Interview with a Social Worker to help in your decision making. Following this interview, and assuming that you are eligible to adopt both in the UK and the country you wish to adopt from, IAC will send you a Registration of Interest (ROI) form, which, once accepted, marks the formal start of the Assessment & Approval Process.

In the north west and north east of England IAC works in partnership with other adoption charities in order to provide prospective and existing adopters with more localised services. Whilst IAC would be responsible for the process of assessing and supporting you through to the placement of a child, certain aspects of the work would be undertaken locally by Adoption Matters, Nugent Care and ARC Adoption.

The Approval Process

The following is a brief overview. Our Information Pack, which is available on request from the Advice Line, will provide a more detailed explanation.

Stage One (normally 2-3 months)

  • Registration of Interest Form accepted by agency
  • Stage One of the Approval Process formally commences
  • Prospective Adopters attend Preparation Course
  • Prospective Adopters gather information for Adoption Portfolio
  • IAC undertakes all statutory checks on Prospective Adopters

Stage One Review

If all checks are satisfactory Prospective Adopters proceed to Stage Two.

Stage Two (normally 4 months to Agency Decision)

  • Attendance at additional training modules
  • Assessment with Social Worker
  • Adoption Panel and Recommendation 
  • Agency Decision Maker approval

Post Approval

  • Papers collated and sent to the Central Adoption Authority for England at the Department for Education for processing
  • The Central Adoption Authority team prepare the Certificate of Eligibility, which proves you have followed the correct procedures, and issue all the required paperwork to your country of approval 

Please note that the Central Authority are independent of IAC and charge for their services.

Once your papers have been sent abroad you will be placed on a waiting list by your country of choice. How long you might wait to be matched with a child will depend upon each individual country. In general, if you are open to either gender, flexible about age and / or are willing to accept a child with additional or special needs, the wait for a match is likely to be shorter.  Neither IAC nor the Central Authority have any control over how other countries manage their waiting lists but we will try and keep communication open where possible.  Our Special Programmes are designed with this as a distinct advantage. 

Current Waiting Times

As of April 2021 waiting times for our most popular countries, on average, were:

  • Philippines - 3 years 
  • India - 2 years and 9 months (and increasing)
  • China - 1 to 2 years for a child with Special Needs
  • USA - 1 to 2 years
  • Nigeria - 1 to 2 years
  • South Africa - 18 months to 2 years
  • Colombia - 1 year and 6 months
  • Pakistan - 1 year or less.