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Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Act 1999

Existing legislation and procedures

6.Adoption is entirely a creature of statute.   It is regulated by the 1976 Act and in Scotland by the 1978 Act.   Intercountry adoption was unusual at the time this legislation was passed and detailed provisions were therefore not included (other than for the implementation of the 1965 Hague Convention).   Every local authority has a duty to establish and maintain an adoption service in its area.   Only local authorities and adoption agencies approved by the Secretary of State may make arrangements for the adoption of a child (except where the child is a relative).    The process is set out in regulations.   The Act will enable the Secretary of State to apply the existing regulations (with appropriate amendments) to intercountry cases and make new regulations to implement the 1993 Hague Convention.

7.At present, the procedure for intercountry adoptions is set out in departmental guidance and is as follows.   A person who wishes to be assessed as suitable to adopt a child from overseas has to be approved by a local authority social services or approved adoption agency.  A successful application is sent to the Department of Health which attaches its official certificate and passes the application to the relevant authority in the prospective adopter’s country of choice.   The purpose of the certificate is to assure the competent authority overseas that the applicant was assessed by an approved adoption agency or statutory body; was found suitable to adopt a child from the particular country;  and that once the adoption order is made the child will be able to enter the UK and reside permanently with the adoptive parents.

8.If the competent body in that country accepts the application, it will identify (match) a child for that family and send details of the child, such as health and family background (if known), to the prospective adopters.   They will then decide whether to accept the child.   If they wish to pursue the adoption of the particular child matched to them, they will make arrangements to visit the child before formally confirming their acceptance of the child to the competent authorities in the child’s State of origin.

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Text created by the government department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Public Acts except Appropriation, Consolidated Fund, Finance and Consolidation Acts.


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