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Private adoption agency or your local authority?

The agent who is responsible for your adoption is either your local authority or an independent approved adoption agency. They are required by law, to provide an inter-country adoption service to their residents, who wish to adopt overseas.

 There is an acknowledgement that international adoption may be considered an alternative means of providing a family for a child who cannot be cared for, for what ever reasons, in their own country. The best interests of the child is taken into consideration, at all times, in inter-country adoption.

Legally, the service provided by local authorities and independent adoption agencies is to include advice and counselling, as well as preparing and assessing prospective inter-country adopters for an inter-country adoption. Safeguards and standards, equal to those applicable in domestic adoption, are applied in inter-country adoption to protect the welfare of the child concerned.

Department of Educaction provides Guidelines that asks local authorites and adoption agencies to counsel, prepare and assess prospective adopters before specific children are identified. They also have a duty to prepare and assess relatives who are wishing to adopt children across the borders.

As organisations they have an obligation to fulfil specific criteria - They need to ensure that the staff carrying out the home study assessment have specific skills as well as having up to date and regular experience in adoption work, preferably inter-country adoption work. 

They must aim to provide the home study report within six months of acceptance of the formal application.

The Department of Education Guidelines allow adoption agencies the right to recover the costs of preparation and assessment from you.

The Adoption agency is the organisation that you are going to have the most contact with for your adoption. This is an organisation that supports your adoption, from your initial enquiry, to your referred child to the final stages of your post adoption reports.

There are strict rules in place as to who can offer the services of an Adoption Agency.  Most Local Authorities in England, Wales and Scotland are approved adoption agencies and there are a handful of registered private agencies who facilitate inter-country adoptions.

Each adoption agency is run by a registered manager - someone who is registered under The Children's Act of 2000 as the manager of the agency, also known as a registered provider. They will maintain the professional running of the agency. Each agency should have in place a Statement of Purpose which outlines how they operate in regard to facilitating an adoption. They should also have in place a complaints procedure.

It is well-known that international adoption is not a priority for these adoption agencies and although it is law that they provide adoption support for families looking to adopt internationally, sometimes their operations become murky. Other agencies who are familiar with inter-country adoption and have a positive outlook should be able to provide a guideline as to how they work and what is their timings. We are hoping that across the board the adoption process are going to be streamlined with the appointment of Martin Neary as the Adoption Advisor. But until then it is pretty hit and miss as to the way that local authorities work when facilitating inter-country adoption. The voluntary Adoption Agencies ie. Norwood and ICA place a high priority on inter-country adoption and therefore have good processes in place.

Unless you qualify for the services of one of the voluntary adoption agencies (see below) then your local authority will be the adoption agency responsible for your adoption, and for assesing you to see if you will make suitable prospective adoptive parents (PAPs). They are usually found in the social services department of your local authority and under the adoption and fostering section. You can find out the contact details of your local authority here.

(We rely on the agencies for the information provided and are unable to guarantee their accuracy - please let us know if our information is wrong.)

Most assessements will be done by the Inter-Country Adoption Centre. Adoption Matters and Adoption Northwest are two other adoption agencies in the intercountry adoption group


The are no international adoption agencies in the United Kingdom. This makes international adoption all the more difficult as you will have to engage the services of an agency that is not from the UK to complete you adoption overseas. Information on reputable agencies are to be found on the country information sections.

Legislation in regard to Adoption Agencies may be found here




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If you live in London in  Croydon, Greenwich, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lambeth, Merton, Newham, Richmond, Southwark, Surrey,  Wandsworth or Westminster then your Adoption Agency will be Inter-Country Adoption Centre.

If you live in North London and are in Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey or Islington or are Jewish then your adoption agency will be Norwood.

If you live in Bath & North East Somerset, Bedfordshire, Bracknell, Brighton & Hove, Bristol, Bournemouth, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Luton, Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, Peterborough, Plymouth, Poole, Reading, Slough, South Gloucestershire, Somerset, Suffolk, Torbay, Waltham Forest (London), West Berkshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Winsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham then your Adoption Support Provider is PACT

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