Section 14 of the Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Act 1999 was
brought into force on 30 April. It introduces section 56A into the
Adoption Act 1976, and the Adoption of Children from Overseas
Regulations 2001, (which apply only to England, as regulations for
Wales are separate). They impose requirements with which a person
who is habitually resident in the British Isles must comply before
and after bringing a child who is habitually resident outside
Britain into the United Kingdom for the purpose of adoption.
Failure to comply with the requirements is a criminal offence.
The prospective adopter is required to undergo assessment by an
adoption agency, be approved as suitable to be an adoptive parent
and have received notification from the secretary of state for
health that he is willing to issue a certificate confirming that
the prospective adopter has been assessed and approved. The
certificate must also state that the child will be authorised to
reside permanently in the British Isles if entry clearance is
granted and an adoption order is made. The prospective adopter is
required to notify his local authority of his intention to apply
for an adoption order, or alternatively that he does not intend to
give the child a home, within 14 days of bringing the child into
the United Kingdom.
Neither the section nor the regulations prevent a parent,
guardian or relative bringing a child into the country. Although
the provisions were much heralded in the context of the Kilshaw
case, they would not have prevented the problems which arose there,
because they had an American adoption order which was recognised in
this country. The regulations would appear to be of narrow
application, in that they do prevent a couple going abroad and
receiving a child in the foreign country. Hitherto that could have
been lawful, as it was established only that the placement of the
child in this country created a criminal offence.
The department of health has also issued Intercountry Adoption
Guide – Practice and Procedures and LAC (2001) 14 Revisions to
Intercountry Adoption Procedures.