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Which Countries Are Open For International Adoption?

Criteria for prospective adopters varies from country to country. Right now during the Covid-19 pandemic many are closed but children are still waiting so as soon as it is safe to travel matching programmes will open up again.  Many countries allow international adoption and at IAC we offer a specialist service to assist families in the adoption process from a number of them. We are accredited with these countries, meaning that we can be more proactively involved. We currently have special programmes with India, South Africa, China (for children with special needs), The Philippines (for children in the special homefinding categories) and Bulgaria.  Our Khazakhtan programme is temporarily closed. 

Our guide will reveal everything you need to know about overseas adoption, as well as which countries adoption is most popular in and why. Read our guide to what countries are open for international adoption.

Which countries are most popular to adopt from?

There are a number of reasons why one country can be more popular with adopters than another. The country may have more flexible requirements, more children to choose from, or quicker travel time. Here are just a few of the most common countries adopters look to adopt from.  India and South Africa are our most popular special programmes and China is one of the oldest.


India has close links with the UK, and offers adopters the opportunities to adopt a child of the same racial and ethnic background. We have a well organised adoption process with India at IAC, and can offer extensive support to prospective adopters. India is also a country which is signed to the Hague Convention.

Age of children: There are many older children needing homes, so adoptees may need to be flexible.

Eligibility for India

  • Both single adopters and married couples may adopt.
  • A married couple with a combined age of up to 90 years, or a single adopter up to 45 years may apply for a child up to 4 years of age.
  • A married couple with a combined age of up to 100 years, or a single adopter up to 50 years may apply for a child between 4-8 years of age.
  • A married couple with a combined age of up to 110 years, or a single adopter up to 55 years may apply for a child up to between 8 and 18 years of age.

South Africa

Like China and India, South Africa is also a country which is signed to the Hague Convention. All adoptions from South Africa are regulated through the South African Central Authority. We are currently the only agency that is able to offer adoption services to prospective adopters looking to adopt from South Africa.

Age of children: Children of all ages are waiting to be adopted in South Africa. However, IAC will prioritise those looking to adopt children over the age of 3 years and those with some additional needs or medical issues.

Eligibility for South Africa

  • Single adopters and couples, including couples of the same sex are eligible to adopt, making it one of the few options for LGBTQ people.
  • Prospective adopters under the age of 45 are eligible to adopt a child under 2 years of age, between 45 and 50 years a child of 2-3 years and between 50 and 55 years a child over the age of 3.

China Special Needs

Both the UK and China have signed the 1993 Hague Convention. This agreement contains safeguards, which considered the best interests and safety of the child involved. At IAC, we have accreditation from the China Centre for Children's Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) to operate the Special Needs Adoption programme in the UK. At IAC, we are proud to be the only agency in the UK which can provide this service.

Age of children: Up to as old as 13 years

Eligibility for China

  • Both single adopters and married couples may adopt.
  • Prospective adopters must be 30 years of age;
  • If a couple is adopting together and the older partner is above 50 years, the age difference between the younger partner and the adopted child must be no more than 50 years.
  • The age difference between a single adoptive mother and the adopted child should be no more than 45 years.

Which countries are ‘closed’ for adoption?

However, there are also a number of countries across the world that are not open for adoption. This can be for several reasons, perhaps the country itself does not want to encourage adoption, or maybe the UK restricts adoption from the country due to certain concerns. Here are some countries which are currently restricted from adoption:

  • Cambodia
  • Guatemala
  • Ethiopia
  • Haiti
  • Nepal

If you wish to find out more about international adoption and contact us, take a look at our Intercountry Adoption page.