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European citizens adopting in the UK

19 replies

Nadelemis · 14/01/2020 15:54

Hi All, I was wondering if there are any Europeans who have successfully adopted a child in the UK. Both my partner and I are Europeans living in London and we're about to start the adoption process. I know that legally we're allowed to but, I heard agencies/LAs can be picky and have their own rules. Since my partner and I speak French at home, I'm worried this would be a barrier. We understand that due to trauma, changes are not good for the kids so we're planning to switch to English once/if we have a Lo placed with us - and eventually introduce the second language after a year or so ). Also whilst we do speak English fluently...let's face it; learning a language old makes it almost impossible to get rid of accents so also worried about that :-( Anyone with similar experience or any insight? Thanks!!

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UKABC · 14/01/2020 19:51


We are both Italian living in London and adopted in the UK in 2018. The fact that we are European or that we speak Italian at home was never seen as an issue. On the contrary, it was highlighted by our social worker as something very positive. Firstly, we can relate well to a child who may feel different to other children, as we are both immigrants and know what it feels like to feel ‘different’. Secondly, the fact that we speak a second language at home is actually quite positive for our daughter, who will grow up knowing two languages. Initially we prioritised English over Italian, however we gradually introduced Italian over the months and after just 1 year of living with us our daughter speaks fluent Italian. She speaks Italian with us and our family and English at school. We adopted her when she was 3.5 years old.

However, one thing you need to keep in mind is that some children, depending on their circumstances, may actually struggle to learn a second language and you just need to show your social worker that your are flexible and able to manage your expectations in this regard.

A tip from us is to let the child or children your adopt watch Netflix cartoons in French. We’ve noticed a huge difference when our daughter started to watch cartoons in Italian.

Nadelemis · 14/01/2020 20:15

Thanks @UKABC !! That's encouraging and gives me hopes. I am actually Spanish and my partner French so we could potentially teach the LO 2 additional languages, lol but, since I speak French as well and most of my family does, I'd prioritise it after English.

Would you mind me asking which agency/LA did you go with, please? I am still waiting to attend information evenings for Coram and Adopt North London but, I called a couple of other agencies who never got back to me. Action for Children took ALL my personal details, asked all kind of questions and were quite negative about the lack of family here and kept saying; we don't have French/Spanish kids here Hmm. We are actually a mixed race couple and I know for sure that black and minority ethnics are harder to place but, still this agency did not consider us for apparently not being British. I am just concerned that this would extend to other agencies which is why I am asking. Thanks again

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JohnPA · 14/01/2020 20:21

We adopted via Adoption North London. We are a same-sex couple. We never experienced any issues for not being British or for being a same-sex couple. Actually in the introduction session we attended facilitated by Adoption North London we were told that the majority of children in care in London are mixed race, so I think they welcome mixed raced couples. Smile

UKABC · 14/01/2020 20:23

@Nadelemis We adopted through Enfield. We didn’t experience any issues with them regarding our nationality.

JohnPA · 14/01/2020 20:30

We are also Spanish and similar to UKABC our two toddlers speak Spanish at home and English at school. They also picked it up quite quickly. We also didn’t experience any issues for not being British and this was highlighted as something positive during the assessment process.

Nadelemis · 14/01/2020 20:30

Thanks so much @JohnPA and @UKABC !! We're going to their info evening at the end of the month. They gave me a good vibe so I am so happy that you guys are confirming. I am feeling less stressed about the whole nationality/accent thing now Smile

I guess the Action for children lady just stressed me out because she said having our family abroad would be a problem. I told her that even people from the UK would probably have their parents living outside London so 2hrs in train or flight is not really a big deal so that made me wonder if it's just difficult for European to adopt.

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JohnPA · 14/01/2020 20:48

Hmmm...that agency doesn’t sound very professional.

In terms of your support network you don’t really need family members to live close to you, although I can see how this could be quite convenient. For example, many people in London are not from London and their families live in other cities, some more distant via train than many European cities via plane. Does this mean that these people shouldn’t be able to adopt? This was a rhetorical question...

I think in terms of your support network you simply need to show that:

-You have close friends who live in London and who are able to provide support during emergencies (e.g. let’s say you have to go to the hospital and need to leave your kid with someone, or that one day you can’t pick up your kid from school and need someone to help).
-Family and friends, who may live close to you or abroad, and who are able to provide emotional support and advice.

We have a relatively small support network. We have a small group of friends and our family live abroad. However, the important thing is quality not quantity and that you are able to demonstrate this.

As many people have noted in other threads, your actual support network after you adopt, will probably be different from what you expected and you will actually develop a different network as parents.

JohnPA · 14/01/2020 20:59

And to be honest with you, after you register with another agency, I would probably formally write to Action for Children (copying the lady’s manager) to complain about the lack of proper advice given to you, highlighting what you just said here. I don’t think this sort of treatment is ok and the way to correct it, is to make the right people aware of it.

Nadelemis · 14/01/2020 21:45

Thanks so much @JohnPA !!! I was going to do something about it but, my partner asked if I really wanted to start this journey being upset and complaining about things. He has a point but, I do agree that if I let it go, they can keep doing this to others which is not right. I might do what you suggest after all.

One thing I wanted to ask - abusing a little bit more of your kindness here- is how long was the process with Adopt North London? Also, do they have post adoption support? I was considering VAs mainly because I thought they will be less picky approving adopters since they get paid for them if matched and, because they usually offer post adoption support ( Coram's seems excellent on paper ). Thanks again and sorry for asking so many questions

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JohnPA · 14/01/2020 22:01

The whole process took exactly one year and half for us, from registering our interest to our sons moving in with us. The assessment stage took one year (although this could have been shorter, but we had a short break in between and there were a couple of admin delays) and the matching process took six months.

Adoption North London have post-adoption support. However, post-adoption support is actually provided by the agency that managed your adopted children’s case. For example, our children are from another city in the UK. In-house placements are not that common and you are more likely to end up adopting a child or children from another city, in which case the post-adoption support will be provided if needed by another agency.

JohnPA · 14/01/2020 22:03

And we’re all here to support each other, so you can ask as many questions as you like! Smile

Yolande7 · 15/01/2020 00:32

My husband and I are both European and adopted via Coram. Coram never saw this as a problem, but we did encounter social workers who were "looking for a closer ethnic match" for their children. Our childrens' social workers saw it as a benefit.

At the time we said we would try to teach them our language, but that it wasn't a priority. Keep in mind that a large number of adopted children struggle with learning, so it is important to be flexible.

Our children were 5 and 6 when they were placed with us and were very keen on learning our language. It still took a while though and since English was already their third language we did not push the matter too much. They are now fully conversational, but make quite a few grammatical mistakes.

We would highly recommend Coram by the way! They really look out for their adopters and have excellent post-adoption support.

Allington · 15/01/2020 10:19

No experience of adopting in the UK (I was living overseas), but regarding the language issue, DD1 didn't speak English when she started visiting me regularly (aged 2). By aged 5, when she came to live with me, she understood basic English and spoke a few phrases, but was fluent within a couple of months (English at home and school) and now (aged 12) scores as above average for vocab in English, and has the accent, grammar etc of a mother tongue speaker.

I can switch between 'BBC English', which was spoken at home, and a very thick Westcountry accent (hearing it at school)!

So, I wouldn't worry too much about language. As with most things, it is about being flexible and prioritising the child's needs (which will change over time).

SimonJT · 15/01/2020 17:11

Not european, but English isn’t my first language and I generally only speak English when speaking directly to English speakers.

My son moved in with me just before his second birthday, I started using a mix of Urdu and English very quickly and within six months his Urdu was better than his English. Obviously his age had a huge impact on that. It didn’t cause any problems for him, but if course if a change in language had caused an issue it would be delayed for a few months, then start again etc.

Nadelemis · 15/01/2020 17:59

Thanks everyone!! I wasn't worried that much about the language itself but, about what SW would think of our situation. My first contact with an agency made me worry that they might to be too keen on allowing non British citizens to adopt -even-though that's against the official guidelines- but, from all of your experiences I am more relaxed and confident now. Thanks for sharing!!!

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Nadelemis · 26/01/2020 11:50

@JohnPA So sorry to bug you again. I have another question about Adopt North London, please. I am just realising that you mentioned going through them over a year ago. However, I was under the impression that the coalition between the different North London LA's was something fairly recent?.
That's an important point that I am considering because, from how I see it, when change happens, the beginnings are always hard/messy ( specially within LAs ). Oftsed rates a few of the LAs making this consortium as good but, I was thinking if they have just merged, a period of disorganisation could be expected until things settle. However, if they have merged more than a year ago, then I shouldn't have to worry. Thanks again for you help!!

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JohnPA · 26/01/2020 12:00

Hi. We started our process in early 2018. Adoption North London has been created some years ago. For example I could find the following newsletter online dated 2017:

It’s issue 4 so it seems the consortium was created in 2016.

JohnPA · 26/01/2020 12:07

Ok so here what’s mentioned in newsletter 2:

Adoption North London is a consortium arrangement between six north London boroughs: Camden, Barnet, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, and Islington. Five of the boroughs have been working together in an adoption consortium since 2003, with Hackney joining the partnership in 2013.

Nadelemis · 26/01/2020 12:24

Thanks so much!! That's very helpful !!

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