To become suitable potential adoptive parents (PAPs) there are a few criteria that you must fulfill.

The main criteria for assessing if someone is suitable for adoption is that they will be better parents then the child's own, and that the child will be better off than in the institution in which they are presently living.

It is the social services or voluntary adoption agency's role to assess if you will make suitable potential adoptive parents for these children in need and that you have the tools in place to provide a loving, supporting and safe environments for an adopted child.

To this end there are some criteria that you need to fulfill. Each local authority or agency works in a different way but essentially the initial meeting between yourself and the social worker will be to ascertain if there is any obvious reason they would not begin the Home Study process in other words any glaringly obvious reason why you would not be suitable to adopt.

Here you will find some of the issues that they will initially examine before they go ahead. These issues are things such as your age, your health, if you smoke, if you have any criminal convictions etc.


If you do smoke try very hard to stop before you start your home study.

Smoking does no exclude you from adoption but many social workers do not look to kindly on smoke in the home. In any respect they will not permit you to adopt a child under two if you smoke. Even if your SW accepts that you smoke, the panel may not. It is best if you quit altogether or restrict yourself to only smoking outside. Of course it is in the best interests of the child that it grows up in a household free from the toxins that are found in cigarette smoke and I am confident that once your child comes home you will not want to risk her health in any way.

Health Issues

One of the saddest reasons why some couples are declined is because of illnesses which at present have not manifested but are assumed may become an issue several years down the road. Diabetes is one of them. Adult onset diabetes is something asymptomatic and only found through routine blood tests. Each case is assessed on a case by case basis.

In other words, you can face some complications with adoption process if you are not able to take care of a child because of your health problems.


Those who have had cancer and who are now in remission are not necessarily excluded from adopting. It is best if you contact your local social services adoption department and discuss it with them. They will access you on a case by case basis.


Most countries do have limits on the age of potential adoptive parents in relation to the age of the child they are adopting. Sometimes these rules are fixed in stone and other times they are just guidelines. Some countries, for example China, limit the combined age of the parents is not more than 90 years between the husband and wife.

Most of these are put in place to ensure that the child has the most 'natural' upbringing. It does not work with a 60 year old mother and a 3 year old child. A mother of 50 with a 3 year old is pushing the boundaries.

Remember at all times International adoption operates to safeguard the interests of the child. And it is not in the interest of the child if one or both of her parents dies before she or he reaches her 20's.

You must establish exactly what is the criteria in every country before you choose that country. In Russian for example the guideline is that a mother (father's age is irrelevant) should not be more than 45 years older than the child. This does not mean that if you are 48 you will not get a child as young as possible. It is just that they will look twice before referring an 18 month old and will probably find a 3 year old to be a better match.

There are hundreds of thousands of older children waiting to be adopted. People are often put off older kids thinking that thy might bring with them many issues, but with sensitive parenting these children are a joy and will become a loving addition to your family.


Single prospective adopters are welcome in countries such as India, Russia and the USA. China used to be the most popular country for single adopters until they changed their rules few years ago and forbade singles to adopt. Guatemala was also a popular destination for single adopters but the UK closed adoptions from that country a couple of years ago and there seems little chance of them reopening the doors. The Philippines will accept single adopters for their older children and those with special needs.

Same Sex Couples

Some gay couples look to adoption to make families and often want to give some of the world's children in need a loving home. This is one of the saddest things about inter-country adoption because although some countries are liberal in their thinking and accept gay couples as a legal entity, on the ground there is still prejudice when it comes to dealing with gay couples for their children. In Russia, for example, legally single men may adopt but realistically this very, very rarely happens. I recall once reading an article about an American man who spent over 7 years fighting and fighting for his right to adopt a child from Russia, he was successful in the end but a broken man. Until one country comes forward to openly accept gay parents for their children inter-national adoption is a very, very hard and complicated process for gays with an extremely slim chance of success.


Whatever you do, do not show that in any respects that you are 'desperate' for a child. For some reason conventional wisdom dictates that if you are 'desperate you will not make a good prospective parent. (Link to story of smoker).

Of course you are desperate to become a parent!! It is only someone who has a strong desire and passion to become a parent who will endure 3 years of their life, all their life savings and travel half way around the world to experience it. But for the social worker this is a big no- no. So your convicted desire must be toned down for the social worker. International adoption is in the interest of the child and not of the parent. You are adopting to give a child a home, not because you want to become a mother or father. This is a key feature and you must bear it in mind.

The adoption process

To adopt a child from a foreign country, you must meet the adoption requirements of the province or territory where you live and the adoption requirements in the child’s home country.

Before adopting
First, contact your provincial or territorial government adoption authority, which will:

inform you of the adoption laws in the country where you would like to adopt
explain the country’s process and requirements related to inter-country adoptions and suggest agencies licensed to facilitate adoptions in that country
tell you whether you need to contact a licensed adoption agency
First, remember that the decision is personal -- whether to adopt here or from an eligible international area, such as Asia, Latin America or Eastern Europe. It's only then that other factors come into play, including cost.

You need to go into adoption with your eyes wide open and gather every shred of health information you can about the tiny new person you hope to bring home.

No matter where you adopt—whether domestically or abroad—you will encounter unexpected health issues.

For starters, the biological mothers of adopted children don't always get good prenatal care or know much about their own family's medical history. Medical or emotional issues can pop up at any age. Still, having a newborn health history is helpful. When a baby is adopted from overseas, you may have nothing more to go on than a video or picture.

And adopted children aren't returnable, at least not without heartbreak.
You need to track down whatever background information you can find so that if a health issue comes up, you can help your pediatrician diagnose and treat it quickly.

You can adopt a child from overseas if:

they can’t be cared for in a safe environment in their own country
the adoption would be in their best interests
the adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from overseas by an adoption agency
If you want to adopt a child from overseas, you should contact either:

your local council
a voluntary adoption agency that deals with overseas adoption
The adoption process will be done by an adoption agency that may charge a fee.

There are several other steps, eg:

the assessment will be sent to the overseas adoption authority
you’ll need to visit the child in their own country
your application will be sent to the child’s country
The adoption agency will let you know what you need to do
If you live abroad

You must follow the adoption laws of the country you’re in if you’re normally resident in that country and want to adopt.

If you’ve adopted a child – either in your country or overseas - and then travel or move to a third country, the adoption may not be recognised in that country. If you have any doubts you should get legal advice.

When you decide to adopt, you'll also need to think about whether the adoption will be : open adoption, closed(confidential) adoption, mediated (semi-opened) adoption Everyone seems to have different definitions for these terms. For our purposes, I prefer the following definitions.

Open Adoptions: Direct interaction between birth and adoptive families. Identities are known.

Close (Confidential) Adoptions: No contact between birth and adoptive families. Only non-identifying information (e.g., height, hair color, medical history, etc.) is provided through a third party (e.g., agency or attorney

Mediated (Semi-Open) Adoptions: Non-identifying contact is made (via cards, letters, pictures) through a third party (e.g., agency or attorney).