Pakistan Adoption Network UK Where families come together

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. How do I start the adoption process?

    In brief, this begins with contacting your local council. If they provide an intercountry adoption service then they will advise on the rest. Many councils are now outsourcing this to agencies. In London, this often is IAC, the intercountry adoption centre based in High Barnet. There may be agencies in your region, the council should be able to advice.

  • 2. How long is the process of application in the UK?

    12-18 months, and during this period, you will undertake interviews, home study, DBS checks, medical checks, and referees will be interviewed. Finally the social worker will submit the home study and a panel will meet to review your case. They will then approve or reject the application. Once approved your documents will be sent to Department for Education who will then issue the Certificate of Eligibility.

  • 3. Will I receive the certificate of eligibility?

    No, this goes to the agency or solicitor through whom you are adopting along with the home study bundle. E.g. Edhi Foundation

  • 4. When can I go to Pakistan?

    Between 3-6 months. First you must be matched with a baby (2 days to 8 weeks wait). Once matched you must follow the process to receive a birth certificate, a guardianship order and a passport for the baby (2 months). Then you apply for the baby’s visa (3-6 months). During this time you are free to travel with the baby within Pakistan. In most cases the mother stays in Pakistan and takes care of their son or daughter, with the husband making frequent trips.

  • 5. How long will I need to stay in Pakistan?

    Between 3-6 months. First you must be matched with a baby (2 days to 8 weeks wait). Once matched you must follow the process to receive a birth certificate, a guardianship order and a passport for the baby (2 months). Then you apply for the baby’s visa (3-6 months). During this time you are free to travel with the baby within Pakistan. In most cases the mother stays in Pakistan and takes care of their son or daughter, with the husband making frequent trips.

  • 6. Where will I stay in Pakistan?

    This depends on where you are applying and where your support network is. Many families apply to Edhi Foundation, all the matching takes place from the Karachi Office. So you may wish to stay in Karachi or fly into Karachi as deemed necessary.

    Most families stay with relatives. Some will rent apartments and others will stay in hotels. This very much depends on your network and how cost efficient you need to be.

  • 7. Can you recommend any accommodations?


    1. Mariners Base in Karachi, 180, 000 PKR per month, for 2 bedroom apartment. Ensuit in both rooms, kitchen and diner. 24x7 Security outside and the management are friendly and helpful. No need to put down a deposit and there is no minimum stay, so you can book for a night or a week if you need to. Most places usually request a minimum 6 months.

    2. Creek Vista Apartments, high level of security, all inclusive complex, international grocery shop, mosque, medical care, beauty salon and Imax cinema opposite. Approximate cost £1500-2000 a month. There is an expat community, a huge playground and armed guards.

    PAN UK would advise you do your own research as this information may no longer be current or accurate.

  • 8. Do I get to choose the baby?

    You will be able to specify a gender choice. That is all. The Edhi foundation try very hard to match you with a healthy baby to the best of their knowledge. Many babies are premature or malnourished, but bounce back with love and support and in some instances a little medical support.

  • 9. Do I take the baby home straight away?

    Yes, in the majority of cases it would seem that once you are called in for a match you are expected to take the baby home straight away.

  • 10. Do all matches work out?

    Sadly there have been cases where the match hasn’t worked out. This is a difficult subject area and cases are often extreme and difficult. Any discussion around this requires a great deal of sensitivity. The orphanage/Pakistani adoption agency will be the first point of contact if you feel things are not working out.

  • 11. What will I need for baby in Pakistan once I am matched?

     Some people like to take everything they will need for the baby from the UK. Some people decide to buy things in Pakistan. It is your personal choice. Here is a suggestion of items you will need initially when you are placed with a baby. 

    • Breast pump (if planning to breastfeed, electric breast pump is worth the investment e.g. midella)
    • Baby milk bottles/teats
    • Sterilising unit (Milton cold water unit with sterilising tablets works well)
    • Small supply of baby milk (optional, most people buy in Pakistan)
    • Milk powder containers
    • Pacifiers (if you're planning to use them)
    • Muslin squares 
    • Toiletries: towel, baby body wash, shampoo, powder, baby oil, cotton wool, baby nail clippers/scissors
    • New-born nappies / wet wipes / Sudocream
    • All in one body vests (rompers)
    • All in one baby grows 
    • Bibs
    • Hat, mittens, socks
    • All baby clothing should be appropriate for the type of weather when you plan to be in Pakistan 
    • Baby travel cot/carrycot - Koo-di do a very handy pop up travel bassinet and pop up bubble travel cot (available from Argos)
    • Baby bedding - sheets/blanket
    • Car seat for new-born Group 1
    • Baby carrier
    • Pushchair/buggy suitable for new-borns
    • Baby bag for daily use

     New-borns tend to be smaller than new-borns in the UK. Consider this when you are making your purchases.

  • 12. Can I apply to adopt more than one organisation in Pakistan?

    Yes you can apply to more than one adoption organisation in Pakistan. In this case, it would be best that you have your DfE send your documents to your chosen lawyer in Karachi.

  • 13. Do I need to pay for the adoption process here in the UK and Pakistan?

    Yes, the intercountry adoption process must be funded by you personally both here in the UK and Pakistan. The cost of the UK process is in the region on £15,000. The cost of processing the application in Pakistan is *. Accommodation and consumables are further costs incurred.

  • 14. Do we pay the orphanage?

    No. Payment to an orphanage may be misconstrued as trafficking. One should question the legitimacy of an organisation if sums of money are requested for a match. The UK courts will examine this too.

  • 15. Is it possible for a single person to adopt from Pakistan?

    Yes, to date, we know of some single people who are currently going through the intercountry adoption process and some have who been approved and are planning their trips to Pakistan.

  • 16. Is it possible to adopt two babies at the same time from Pakistan?

    Several couples were approved for sibling pairs, but to date, none have been matched with a sibling pair. Given the socio economic issues, the likelihood of survival of twins is low and thus being placed with twins is highly improbable.

  • 17. Has anyone adopted more than one baby from Pakistan?

    Yes. Many families in the UK have successfully retuned to Pakistan to adopt a second child.

  • 18. If I have already adopted from Pakistan and decide to adopt again, will I need to go through the process again?

    Yes, in the large part. The home study is somewhat abridged and focuses more on the successful development of the first child.

  • 19. Are there any considerations when applying for the childs visa?

    Yes. It is important to be thorough. Visas have been rejected in instances when paper work submitted has been insufficient, out of date, incomplete, or where things don’t seem to quite match up, where finances have not been shown to be supportive. The application is difficult and complicated and guidance offered by the border agency is sparse. So it is imperative to make the application “idiot friendly”.

  • 20. When do I begin to tell my child they are adopted?

    The literature and evidence supports the notion that children who are familiar with their adoption status from an early age adjust better to the idea that they were adopted. The idea of keeping adoption a family secret is now debunked and a social worker observing you post placement may raise concerns if it was felt that the introduction of the notion of adoption was marginalised. See the recommended reading list on how to talk about adoption to your child on the website.

  • 21. Should I breast feed my adopted baby?

    This is entirely up to you as a mother and as a family. Many mothers will induce lactation chemically and mechanically when matched. This may occur successfully or it may not. Feeding is essential, breast feeding is a choice.

  • 22. What about the issue of becoming a mahrem?

    The Islamic literature supports the notion that a child is a mahram if they are raised from infancy as a son or daughter. Other opinions will suggest that a child becomes a mahram through breast feeding. There are some archaic opinions banded about making this topic unduly complicated. It is important to be sure of where you stand on this matter. The differential treatment of children can be harmful to their confidence and psychological wellbeing.

  • 23. My social worker asked me about my views on homosexuality and whether my child will be rejected if they are gay. Does this contravene my Islamic principles?

    A pregnancy is just one way of having a son or daughter, and adoption is the other way. So if you feel your child is your own, then it is important to love them unconditionally and support them through their life journey and choices, albeit they might disagree with your own ideas. Children will make choices in their life, a parent’s role is there to be a loving sign post, guardian and teacher so that the child can develop into a well-adjusted adult. That’s all there is to it. In short, your Islamic principles are not compromised by the decision of your child.

  • 24. What milk should I use in Pakistan?

    NAN 1 is freely available, but other well-known British brands are also available at big supermarkets. There isn’t any need to take 6 months supply from the UK! Converting over to a UK brand can be done by titrating to the new milk upon your return to the UK. Some UK brands are available in Pakistan but can fall in limited supply and can be very expensive.

  • 25. Who needs to know that my child is adopted?

    This is a question relating to personal belief about adoption, privacy and secrecy. Certainly the literature and work of social workers supports the notion that adoption is not a secret matter. Secrecy suggest that something should be hidden or is undesirable.

    However the idea that adoption can be a private matter is something that is very personal. Of course there will be people/professionals outside the family that must know as it may be pertinent to professional decision making. However beyond that, there are pros and cons of discussing your child’s adoptive status. 

    What is important is that the child and the parents feel secure in the idea that their family was made through adoption and that this is a very positive event in the life of the family. In addition, it is important to note, that adoption was a onetime event, it isn’t an ongoing process.

    It is also prudent to be aware of some of the harsh realities that come with adoption and the questions that may arise as a result, and the sadness that the child may feel as their awareness of what it means to be adopted grows. Tackling these in an age appropriate manner is key. Not acknowledging these issues may result in, even well-meaning parents, ignoring the pain that does exist with being adopted, and not acknowledging this may result in the child closing off, for fear of upsetting the balance of “positivity” that exists in the household. The important thing is keeping things in balance. Adoption is bitter sweet, there is loss and there is gain. Acknowledging both sides of this coin adds validity to the child’s feelings.

    Some families take the positon that being very open about the adopted status of a child creates a security around the child’s adopted status. Other families may take the position that the adoption isn’t a defining factor and therefore a “need to know” positon is taken. One thing worth knowing is that one families personal take on this must be respected. It is their decision to whom they make known the adoption, being mindfulness of this is important. 

    Moreover reading around the topic of “talking to young children about adoption” will give no end of insight as to how to approach this. 

    Much of the literature supports the “need to know” notion, and experience of adult adoptees reflects this point of view. 


  • 26. We would like to adopt but our family do not support adoption, what should we do?

    This is a difficult topic and one that requires a great deal of consideration. Often there a misguided or archaic views on the status of adoption in Pakistan or in Islam. Essentially Islam is an advocate of adoption and the rights of an adopted child are no less than that of a birth child. It is encouraged that a couple deciding to adopt get a handle on the evidences and literature and feel confident about their positon on adoption. There are family workshops and material like books which can help detangle some of the misunderstandings surrounding adoption.

    One thing is for sure, the child’s interests are imperative and anything that compromises that has to be managed in a way as to avoid harming the child or their feelings.

  • 27. Do I need to take adoption leave?

    If you have been in employment then you can enquire about adoption leave from your organisation. The rights are the same as those for maternity leave. Employers may stipulate that you can begin your adoption leave upon entry into the UK. It important to check the policy on this and you may find that some organisations do not have a policy on international adoption. This would be an opportunity to take the lead on informing the organisation of policy. But be sure to be clear. Some families have run into difficulties around this. Since adoption leave may not start until you return to the UK, you may either have to consider alternatives, such as a career break or unpaid leave. I would advocate taking the latter as a career break may extinguish any previously accumulated rights to take adoption/mat leave.

  • 28. Do I need a power of attorney?

    In short, it is a good idea if one of you is staying in Pakistan and the other staying in the UK. The power of attorney can be created with your solicitor conferring rights that you stipulate. It is worth having and not needing, than not having and needing it.

  • 29. How do I process the NADRA paperwork?

    Sadly, things aren’t quite set up for adoption paper work and identification cards in Pakistan just yet, so it is worth being tactful in making applications for various forms. Stating at the outset that this is an adoption case will cause you to be bounced from one clerk to the next and then quite possibly up to head office where you may need to fork out considerable “fees” and undue delays.

  • 30. How do we navigate unwelcome comments about our adopted children?

    Once you adopt, there, no doubt, will be a battery or questions or comments that are either unwelcome, or inappropriate or ignorant or all three.  You will also find that people feel at liberty to ask you personal questions that normal decorum would dictate as inappropriate or misplaced.  This is where it is important to make an assessment about whom you discuss your child’s adoptive status with and how much implied freedom you offer the other person. No doubt as your child grows, it won’t necessary be you answering the questions, it will be them. Some statements or questions are hurtful.

    For example, some

    i. Your child is so lucky that they were adopted by you.

    ii. Now that you have adopted, you are more likely to have your own.

    iii. How could their mother have left them?

    iv. Did you get to choose the baby?

    v. Adoption isn’t recognised in Islam or worse still, it is haram.

    vi. If you don’t breast feed your adoptive daughter she will have to wear a hijab when she is older.

    vii. Adoptive children cannot inherit the same as biological children.

    viii. Why were they abandoned?

    ix. Who is their real mother? Where is their real mother?

    x. Are they real siblings?

    xi. I couldn’t love another person’s child.

    xii. Adopted children turn out to have more behavioural issues.

    xiii. Are you going to let them find their real mother?

    xiv. You guys are amazing for having adopted children.

    xv. How do you know what motherhood is, you never gave birth.

    And so on……

    This list is surely no exhaustive, and will be managed very differently by different individuals. The important thing is to know how you will respond ahead of time, whether you will choose to respond, what are your red lines, when to be informative, when to deflect, when to share and when to joke about things. Becoming a member of the PAN UK community will undoubtedly help and certainly reading around adoption will also create a balanced view.

  • 1