Sorting out citizenship for children - adopted abroad but not an 'international' adoption.

(37 Posts)
adoptmama Fri 30-Dec-11 20:00:11

Hi everyone. I am a single parent to two beautiful under-fives, both adopted in the EU (I live and work abroad). My adoptions are not designated 'international' but 'domestic' to the country I live in. Therefore I have been told that there is no automatic granting of citizenship. I have tried to find out how to proceed to get this sorted. My local British embassy is, frankly, useless and has no idea of what to do or how to assist me. I have been in touch with the BAAF and other groups/charities and the UK border authority. No-one seems to know what I need to do to sort out citizenship for my kids. Also is there a difference between them becoming British citizens and Nationals, or is it the same thing? I don't want them to have problems with inheritance or residency rights in years to come and want to sort it all out. I cannot readopt in the UK I don't think as I am not resident here for most of the year. I believe I can apply for citizenship for each of them and it will cost about 600 pounds each which I am disgusted by - they are legally adopted in a Hague compliant country in the EU and I just can't see why I should have to pay for citizenship for them: rightly or wrongly I believe they should be just as entitiled to it automatically as if I had travelled to China or Russia and adopted internationally! Has anyone got any experience of this or any suggestions of who I can contact?

Lilka Fri 30-Dec-11 21:52:30

The problem is not really EU country vs. China or Russia I think - it's that all adopted children can't automatically gain either citizenship or entry to the country unless the proper adoption process was proven to be followed. It's no different for a Chinese child or a Russian child. I did have a cursory glance at the Border Agency website and it does specifically say they will grant citizenship only where the adoption satisfied UK law as well (ie. UK homestudy etc). Whether there is a way around that I don't know

Gaining citenzenship and immigration depends on doing an international adoption. Which doesn't necesarily mean you live in the UK, but you have to be approved by a UK body to adopt, followed by registering with the government etc etc. I did hear of a couple who lived outside the UK but were visited by a UK SW who flew out to them to do a UK homestudy. But in your case it's irrelevent as the adoptions are complete. Your problem is that you didn't follow the UK's adoption law to adopt the children. And so your children can't be granted entry visas or citizenship into the UK now without a long and complicated legal process.

I don't really know who to contact for this though as I don't have any experience. A poster called Kew might have advice since she adopted internationally (though through the UK so not in your situation). I think you will need a lawyer with some considerable experience with regards to immigration issues and/or adoption in order to complete the process

mousysantamouse Fri 30-Dec-11 22:14:13

has the adoption process been completed in the EU?
if yes, then the UK has to accept the children as your children afaik and you should be able to apply for british passports.

but I am sorry, I have no clue as to where you could start.

mousysantamouse Fri 30-Dec-11 22:19:19
Lilka Fri 30-Dec-11 22:22:28

Maybe freedom of movement/entry into the country on a valid EU passport, but not British Citizenship. If your children were to grow up they could then secure university or a job in the UK and come into the country (as EU nationals). But OP wants them to become British and doesn't intend to move back anytime soon from what I gather from her post.

OP - I think British Nationality and British Citizenship are the same thing, at least my passport says I have British Nationality

Maryz Fri 30-Dec-11 22:25:08

I don't actually know the answer to this, but I would presume that a child adopted while you were living abroad should have the same rights as a child born to you while you were living abroad.

The only person I know who has done this was living with her (French) husband in France and followed the domestic procedure in France. I know her child has dual citizenship, French and English, through his parents.

Do you currently have passports for the children?

Tenebrist Fri 30-Dec-11 22:27:28

I don't know about the case with adoption, but I do know that there are two kinds of British passports. The first is full citizenship, for people born in the UK, or who were born abroad of at least one British parent and then spent at least 3 years in the UK before they are 18. These people have full rights of residency, pensions etc. The second kind is for people born abroad with a British parent (whether birth or adoptive) who do NOT spend 3 years living in the UK before 18. These people are not, for example, entitled to pass on British citizenship on to their own children (and this is of interest to me as it will probably apply to my own children who were born and have always lived abroad). It helps then for your DC to have a second citizenship which can be passed on.

My experience of British embassies and consulates is that they passively stand in the way of people getting citizenship - maybe they get a bonus for each one they prevent <bitter laugh>.

Agree that the person who will know about this best is an immigration lawyer.

Kewcumber Sat 31-Dec-11 00:36:00

I'm not sure if I have time to address this fully tonight. But first of all you need to check that the country you have adopted in is recognised as valid by the UK as a lawful adoption (under UK law)

Only adoptions made by order of a court in the United Kingdom or Islands or in one of the countries or
territories listed below are recognised under United Kingdom statutory law.
a. Commonwealth countries
Anguilla Malaysia
Australia Malta
Bahamas Mauritius
Barbados Montserrat
Belize Namibia
Bermuda New Zealand
Botswana Nigeria
British Virgin Islands Pitcairn Island
Canada St. Christopher and Nevis
Cayman Islands St. Vincent
Cyprus Seychelles
Dominica Singapore
Fiji South Africa
Ghana Sri Lanka
Gibraltar Swaziland
Guyana Tanzania
Hong Kong Tonga
Jamaica Trinidad and Tobago
Kenya Uganda
Lesotho Zambia
Malawi Zimbabwe
b. Foreign countries
Austria Luxembourg
Belgium The Netherlands
China (but only where the child (including the Antilles)
was adopted on or after Norway
5 April 1993 and will be living Portugal (including the
in England or Wales, or on Azores and Madeira)
or after 10 July 1995 and will be Spain (including the
living in Scotland, or on Balearics and Canary
or after 19 February 1996 and will Islands)
be living in Northern Ireland) Surinam
Denmark (including Greenland Sweden
and the Faroes) Switzerland
Finland Turkey
France (including Reunion, United States of America
Martinique, Guadeloupe and Yugoslavia (but none of
French Guyana) the states which make up
Germany the former Yugoslavia)
The Republic of Ireland

If the country you are in is on that list then just apply to the embassy for a british passport for your children a legally adopted child has the same status under UK law as a birth child. The embassy can check it out with the FCO in London if they aren't sure how to proceed.

The only difference I believe is if the adoption was made in order to circumvent the immigration laws. However assuming you are a resident of the country and the children were adopted a little while ago (say a year) that shouldn't be a problem.
If you aren't on that list then you have to have been acting as a de facto family for at least 18 months and some extra stuff...

Kristingle Sat 31-Dec-11 01:28:10

Im sure it doesnt help you toknow this but uk citizenship is not automatic for thise adopting in russia or china. In fact many people re adopt in the uk because its so complex, lomg and expensive. £600 is a lot less thna many people pay here.

oldnewmummy Mon 16-Jan-12 06:18:18


We lived in and adopted in Singapore 5 years ago (Singapore was non-Hague at that point). The following list was given to me by the (pretty hopeless) High comm there. In addition we later had to supply consent from birth parents and police clearance. The key aspect was that the adoption had to be legal in country of birth and residence. The naturalisation was at the discretion of the Home Secretary, and actually came through in about 4 months.

Hope it helps, and good luck.

(w.e.f 1 June 2005 & revised on 8/9/2006)

1. Completed MN1(you may download the application form at

2. Child’s country of origin birth certificate and current passport

3. Child’s birth certificate bearing adoptive British parent/s details

4. Adoptive parents’ long version birth certificate and current British passports
(if just one parent is British, we require only from the British parent)

5. Adoptive parents’ marriage certificate

6. Singapore Adoption certificate
(For adoption certificate issued outside Singapore: the local representative in Singapore should verify the adoption certificate)

7. A contemporary report from the overseas equivalent of the Social Services Department which details:

“the child’s parentage and history; and the degree of contact with the original parents(s); and the reasons for adoption; and the date, reasons and arrangements for the child’s entry into an institution or foster placement; and when, how and why the child name to be offered to the adoptive parent(s)”

8. Confirmation that all relevant adoption laws from the country the adopted child came from has been complied with.

9. Evidence of the adoptive parents’ country of habitual residence: it is your responsibility to check whether you retain habitual residency in the United Kingdom. You have to provide a sworn statement (witnessed by a lawyer), which should say something along the lines of: "I confirm that I have received independent legal advice and with reference to all circumstances of my particular case and in light of existing UK law, I can confirm that I am not habitually resident in the UK"

(a) where the parents are habitually resident in the UK, confirmation from the DfES (for those in England and Wales), from the Scottish Executive (for those parents in Scotland) or from the Department of Health Social Security and Public Safety – Northern Ireland (for those resident in Northen Ireland) that they have been assessed and approved as eligible to become an adoptive parent;


(b) where the parents are not habitually resident in the UK, confirmation from the equivalent of the Social Services Department in their country of residence that all relevant adoption laws have been complied with.

10. Fee payable for the registration (by cheque or cash) in Singapore currency only:
£400 x daily exchange rate in S$ + S$177 (subject to change)

The above documents listed from (2) to (9) to be produced in originals, accompanied by 2 sets of photocopies. (in some cases, additional information and documents may be required to establish national status).

PROCESSING TIME: ABOUT ONE YEAR (application has to be referred to the Home Office, Liverpool.

EdithWeston Mon 16-Jan-12 07:21:10

"Therefore I have been told that there is no automatic granting of citizenship"

Who told you this?

And do you DCs hold the nationality of your current location (presumably their place of birth)?

MovingbacktoEngland Mon 23-Apr-12 08:20:30

I'm sure this is all sorted out now as it was posted so long ago (sorry only just read it) - but just to say I adopted my two (from Russia) while living in Belgium. Apply using the MN1 form through the British embassy as Oldnewmummy says above - this should give you British citizenship for your children and after that you can apply for their British passports.
It's not legally "automatic" that you get their citizenship but in effect it works as it's granted "at the discretion of the Home Secretary". What it doesn't seem to provide though, is any automatic legal recognition of you and the kids as family under British family law. So you don't get a UK adoption certificate for the kids, and I'm not sure what happens for inheritance purposes etc., if you don't go ahead and re-adopt if you move back to the UK.
Anyone else with experience of this, as I'm due to move back to the UK this summer and am not sure if it's a good idea to pursue re-adoption there or not? After all - they have their passports and citizenship already.

oldnewmummy Tue 24-Apr-12 07:34:45

Now you're worrying me!

We're now in Australia and have an Australian-made will since most of our assets are here. Wasn't a problem naming our son as our son/heir, IYSWIM.

Presumably if you name your children in your will and they're your legal children then no issue. I guess it COULD be a problem if you die intestate?

Jaja1234 Fri 22-Mar-13 23:25:00


I adopted my son from Russia 2 years ago and we live in the USA. I have duel citizenship UK and USA and my son has a US citizenship. I applied for a UK passport for him and it was rejected ( They even took the money) They stated that it does not confer to section 23 of the Hague agreement and gave me no further info..I have looked online and tried to call them at $300 a minute and all I have done is wasted more money!I guess my question is if I choose to move back to the UK would they even let him attend school? I left the UK 20 years ago. Please help.

Jaja1234 Fri 22-Mar-13 23:26:29


I adopted my son from Russia 2 years ago and we live in the USA. I have duel citizenship UK and USA and my son has a US citizenship. I applied for a UK passport for him and it was rejected ( They even took the money) They stated that it does not confer to section 23 of the Hague agreement and gave me no further info..I have looked online and tried to call them at $300 a minute and all I have done is wasted more money!I guess my question is if I choose to move back to the UK would they even let him attend school? I left the UK 20 years ago. Please help.

Kewcumber Sun 24-Mar-13 15:59:43

of course US citizens are allowed to attend school in the UK - it happens all the time around here - our school is full of expats. I suspect that his citizenship was rejected because you aren't resident in the UK just being a UK citizen doesn't as far as I know automatically confer UK citizenship on your child adopted or not (unlike the USA).

He has valid US citizenship and as long as he is legally resident here with the right visa he will be entitled to attend school

Kewcumber Sun 24-Mar-13 16:00:25

Rulke on passing citizenship to birth chidlren:

In the most common scenario, the parent is normally expected to have lived in the UK for three consecutive years and apply to register the child as a British citizen while the child is a minor (clause 43, Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, effective from 13 January 2010).

Kewcumber Sun 24-Mar-13 16:03:39

Or are they saying the adoption is not Hague compliant? If it is not Hague compliant then you have to readopt whilst you are resident in the UK or manage to convince the Embassy that it is. Depending on the country you adopted from it may be very very difficult to convince the Embassy unless it was a Hague country and the whole adoption was done also whilst the US was Hague compliant - which isn't from memory a very long time ago.

Kewcumber Sun 24-Mar-13 16:04:58

Sorry - of course you said Russia.

Russia is not hague compliant so if you move back here you can apply to readopt in teh UK courts at which point your child will automatically become a UK citizen

akuabadoll Sun 24-Mar-13 16:09:12

Does this not depend on the type of citizenship the parent holds? I was born in the UK, have a British passport and live overseas. My children can acquire British citizenship (adopted or bio) without needing residence. My south African born friend who has a British passport via her British mother cannot pass on her citizenship to her non-British born child.

akuabadoll Sun 24-Mar-13 16:16:19

x-post kew of course Hague complliance is a separate issue. My understanding is that if the receiving country is Hague compliant is is what counts. It is in my own case anyway.

adoptmama Sun 24-Mar-13 16:21:36

I wish I could chip in with some advice, but I have never yet solved this one myself despite the length of time since my OP. My local embassy have been less than knowledgeable about it and various contacts with borders authority, adoption uk and so on.... basically given up for now as too many other things pressing and it isn't a priority at the moment.... embassy frustrates me most; even if they don't know themselves (and I accept it is a fairly unusual question to ask) you'd think they could at least help...

akuabadoll Sun 24-Mar-13 16:55:52

adoptmama these days it doesn't have anything to do with your embassy, so you shouldn't have to deal with them (many are rubbish at this kind of thing through lack of will and experience) It's all centralized, perhaps this helps?

akuabadoll Sun 24-Mar-13 17:01:07

You are right about the cost though. The same for any Hague compliant adoption (domestic or international).

Kewcumber Sun 24-Mar-13 17:30:13

akua - yes you are right about which citizenship but OP didn't say which. No both countries (sending and receiving) have to be Hague compliant in order for the child to get UK citizenship automatically without readoption in UK. In fact they have to both be compliant for the whole of the adoption process from start right through to adoption, adoption from countries that have recently ratified Hague will still need readoption. Which is totally bonkers IMO as long as the whole of the process in the sending country why on earth does it matter whether they were compliant whilst you were faffing around with the UK end of the process?

The rules can be slightly different if you are still living in the country you adopted from as you can get local adoption recognised once the child has been living with you there for a while I understand.

But they won;t recognise a Russian adoption in the UK whether you live in the US or the UK (its not because you are living in the US, the rules are the same for the UK) - if you want citizenship for your child you need to readopt in the UK.

akuabadoll Sun 24-Mar-13 18:01:19

That's interesting kew it's not what we understood (have an internationally adopted child - sending non-Hague, recieving Hague, live in niether country). In this case our adopted child will never gain British citizenship as we are unlikely to live in the UK at any point. We didn't complete the process as like adoptmama it has not been a priority right now. We completed all the processes in the receiving country partiuclar to a non-Hague sending country and not otherwise necessary so yes it does seem crazy that this process is not relevant in the UK. Do you know where this is documented by any chance?

adoptmama Sun 24-Mar-13 19:47:16

cheers will check out the link. The country i live in is EU and Hague Compliant but not on the list of approved countries. Both adoptions are finished here and my names is on both their birth certificates and passports as their mother. in fact all traces of their bm's have been removed from records. I still live here and have no plans to return to the uk which i think complicates it.... sigh!

akuabadoll Sun 24-Mar-13 20:25:32

Damn yes, if the country is not on the list then there is your issue, I think. The country I adopted in is on the list but it seems, according to info from kew , that this doesn't cut it either. <sigh> indeed.

Kewcumber Sun 24-Mar-13 21:34:02

I think this explains Hague vs non hague pretty well.

akuabadoll Mon 25-Mar-13 05:39:25

Thanks kew I'm still not 100% sure about both countries being Hague compliant, I just can't find where this is explicitly stated. The MN1 guide is the most detailed I can find on the issue, so far...

BUT adoptmama I may have found something that helps in your case: the link I sent you previously states that your country of adoption must be on the Designated List, however using the same website and moving to the more detailed 'Guide MNI' (clink on following link, then the pdf file on the left marked 'Guide MNI, go to page 13). Here it says that children may be from either Designated List or Hague Convention countries.
This doesn't solve the problem of the money or assessing if it's actually worth it in terms of the children's future though. Anyway I wanted to correct my earlier understanding.

Kewcumber Mon 25-Mar-13 12:35:02

I am 100% sure both countries have to be Hague complaint ( I adopted from a country that was then non-Hague so I looked into it). The reason that it doesn;t state that both countries have to be Hague compliant is becasue it is addressing UK residents adopting - and of course we are hague compliant.

This is the relevant bit:

"What difference does adopting from a Hague Convention country make?

Where an adoption has been completed under the Hague Convention:

the child will automatically receive British citizenship if you or your partner are a British citizen and both of you are habitually resident in the UK
the adoption will be automatically recognised in the UK and other contracting states
the adoption of a child under the Hague Convention can be registered on the Adopted Children's Register managed by the Registrar General.

*Can I adopt from a country that is not a Hague Convention country?

Yes you can, but if the adoption order is not recognised in the UK* , you will need to re-adopt the child in a UK court for the adoptive relationship to be legally recognised."

My bold to highlight that adoptions in non-Hague countries are not recognised in the UK and therefore confer no citizenship rights.

Kewcumber Mon 25-Mar-13 12:36:56

or not bolded as the case may be!

Can I adopt from a country that is not a Hague Convention country?

Yes you can, but if the adoption order is not recognised in the UK, you will need to re-adopt the child in a UK court for the adoptive relationship to be legally recognised.

akuabadoll Mon 25-Mar-13 16:35:43

Thanks kew well, it would be nice if the UK Border Agency were explicit about it as that set of documents is directed at those of us who adopted without UK involvement. My child as already been re-adopted in effect in Switzerland which is Hague and Designated List and there is no way he will be adopted a third time and anyway we don't live in the UK so it's not even possible. We took advice on the issue before and understood the application to be correct and valid but I'm revisiting it as expecting a second child (birth) and wanted to compare the outcomes in terms of citizenship. A birth child would be British (if only by descent as would not be born in the UK) but my first child would not if his adoptions are not considered valid.

There is a little more info in the guide I forwarded to adoptmama but again not explicit on this point:
"we are satisfied that all relevant adoption laws have been adhered to. This includes the laws of the country in which the adoption took place, the country of origin of the child and the country in which the adoptive parents are habitually resident,
If some or all of the critera set out above are not met, the application will be considered on it's merits and the child and the child registered if registration is demonstrably in the best interests of the child"
I also read the Hague Article 23 on which jaja's application was rejected which is not very clear to me either.
One that is clear to me, I'm afraid, jaja is that your money was not refunded, they are pretty clear on this point.

Kewcumber Mon 25-Mar-13 16:47:03

I would have thought that being readopted in any hague convention country should do the job. In effect legally under UK law he is now your child in so I would have thought you'd be fine. The problem with a non-hague adoption is that it has no legal status in the UK - when DS first came into the UK he was categorised as a child who was privately fostered (which required a 6 weekly visit from social services - oh joy).

I am almost certain that refusal in jajas case is as simple as the adoption not being recognisable under UK law so no citizenship. You can get UK adoption/citizenship recognised from non-hague countries but I've only ever heard of it happening when the family have adopted and stayed resident in the country of childs birth for some time say 6 months plus (although it does seem to vary).

UK authorities are not keen to recognise non-Hague adoption in case people start circumventing UK rules for intercountry adoption.

Jaja - as USA is now a Hague convention country - you may find readopting in the US does the trick.

akuabadoll Mon 25-Mar-13 17:06:47

Mmm I assumed jaja did re-adopt in the USA as she mentioned her son has US citizenship. My child has Swiss citizenship which he would not have without having been adopted under Swiss law, so I made the assumption based on that. It doesn't change the fact that the adoption was done, initially, from a non-Hague country. Any adoption from non-Hague to Hague would require a process to recognise the adoption, otherwise the adoption would not be legal in the second country.

jaja are you out there???

Kewcumber Mon 25-Mar-13 17:18:56

yes you're right - but you have recognised it in a Hague country now so I would expect the UK to recognise it.

I don't think citizenship works the same way re adoption in the US - I have several US freinds who have adopted and I'm pretty sure I recall that once they land on US soil with a parent who is US citizen they become US citizens. I have no idea if that changed post-Hague as the US adoption of Hague in practice was somewhat patchy!

adoptmama Mon 25-Mar-13 19:49:56

thanks a million for all your time an effort. we have some hospital surgeries coming up for dd2 which is a distraction at the moment, but I will try to get some emails or calls in and update fyi if i get any positive outcomes or information.

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