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How much does it cost to adopt a child in the UK?

9th August 2017

Adopting a child in the UK requires an extensive and costly process designed with child welfare as the absolute priority. As it should be. But what’s the bill to potential parents? And what about other costs? The costs of adoption in the UK need to be looked at by British expats in Dubai who are thinking of adopting a child as part of a move back to Britain.

As with all family issues, financial security is the key to really taking responsibility. Looking after your own begins with your bank account! You need to be square from the off. Adopting a child in the UK is an expensive business in the short-term – as well as a truly giant cost in the long-term. So you need to get budgeting.

Totting up the cost of a tot

Whether you plan to adopt a child from the UK or another country, adoption costs begin as soon as you get registered with an agency. The time involved in finding a child and being vetted successfully is often measured in years. The process involves a rule-of-thumb investment of at least £10k.

And, if you succeed with the adoption process, be aware that supporting a child until the age of 21 is known to cost upwards of £200k as a UK average (see below).

So it’s important to ask yourself: is your financial footing firm enough to look into adoption? And do you know enough about the adoption process to establish whether you can deal with it emotionally as well as financially?

Here Holborn Assets reviews the process and costs involved in adopting a child in the UK:


Child care costs – UK
The consensus amongst the latest surveys and estimates is that child care in the UK generally (as in other developed countries) is expensive, and getting more so. The Guardian cites a study from Centre for Economics and Business Research last year that found paying the way for a child up to the age of 21 years old topped £230,000 for the first time. This was up 4.3% on the previous year, and it’s now seven years since LV=, the friendly society, found in their research that the £200,000 barrier – £9,610 per year – had been breached.

All figures assume the child went to a state school; private school can see the 2016 figure jump to more than £270,000.


Two main types of UK adoption agencies
Adoption agencies are the chief intermediary between parents and child. Agencies are of two types mainly: some form part of a local authority, and others are stand-alone voluntary adoption agencies. Agencies have the contacts with the orphanages, give you information, and walk you through the adoption process until hand over.

Once you’ve settled on an agency, their initial, critical role is to assess the eligibility of you and your partner to adopt. You will undergo an intensive course during which  a social worker will determine your eligibility and submit their recommendation to an independent Adoption Panel. If you are successful, your agency will also teach you key skills as future parents. This can take up to four months, according to, and can cost between £4,000-£9,000, depending on the agency.

The Department of Education separately charges £885 to process your application and deliver you a Certificate of Eligiblity. This rises to £1,775 if your income is over £45,000.


International adoption – what’s involved?
Adoption from another country can take much longer than adopting a child native to your country of origin. And the costs are usually higher and more variable. Be aware too that:

Children can only be adopted from abroad if:

  • it can be proven the child cannot be safely looked after in their current country of residence
  • Adoption is their best option

You must also visit the country in question at least once. F

A complication of the procedure is that your application form will be sent to the country of the child’s origin, whereas your assessment will be sent to the overseas adoption authority.

Costs then breakdown as:

  • Facilitation – estimates that facilitation in your country of adoption can range from £1000 – £10,000.
  • Visa – for the child and stay in the UK is around £1,000
  • Court costs – around £2,000, all-in, since this could include two courts, and translations of numerous documents are likely if the country of origin does no have English as its state language.
  • Travel and accommodation – name your price! You could be visiting a country a number of times over the two or three years it can take to complete the adoption process.

The international adoption process often takes more than two years. So, while the costs can be spread out over that time, it represents a significant exercise in budgeting.


Got a question or want more information? Speak to one of our qualified consultants today!

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