So you want to… Child Adoption

  • Gov Leglislation
  • Author:UK Government
  • Published:(N.D.)
  • Country: United Kingdom

An overview of Child Adoption

To be adopted, a child must:

  • Be under the age of 18 when the adoption application is made.
  • Not be (or have never been) married or in a civil partnership.

The child’s birth parents

Both birth parents normally have to agree (consent) to the adoption, unless:

  • They cannot be found.
  • They’re incapable of giving consent, for example, due to a mental disability.
  • The child would be put at risk if they were not adopted.

Who can adopt a child

You may be able to adopt a child if you’re aged 21 or over (there’s no upper age limit) and either:

  • Single.
  • Married.
  • In a civil partnership.
  • An unmarried couple (same-sex and opposite-sex).
  • The partner of the child’s parent.

There are different rules for private adoptions and adoptions of looked-after children.
Living in the UK.

You do not have to be a British citizen to adopt a child, but:

  • You (or your partner, if you’re a couple) must have a fixed and permanent home in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
  • You (and your partner, if you’re a couple) must have lived in the UK for at least 1 year before you begin the application process.

Adoption Support Fund

You may be able to get funding from the Adoption Support Fund. It provides money for therapy for children and families to help improve relationships, confidence and behaviour. Your social worker can apply for you.

If you’re not happy with how the social worker has handled the application, complain to the council. If you’re not happy with the council’s response, contact the Adoption Support Fund team.

Adoption Support Fund team

[email protected]

01223 463 517

Early stages of adoption

To adopt a child you can go through either:

  • An adoption agency that’s part of your local council
  • A voluntary adoption agency

The adoption process

  1. Contact an adoption agency – they’ll send you information about the adoption process.
  2. The agency will arrange to meet you – you may also be invited to a meeting with other people wanting to adopt a child.
  3. If you and the agency agree to carry on, the agency will give you an application form.
    The adoption approval process normally takes around 6 months. You will then be matched with a child for adoption.

Adoption Assessment

Once the agency gets your application it will do the following:

  1. Invite you to a series of preparation classes – these are normally held locally and give advice on the effect adoption may have on you.
  2. Arrange for a social worker to visit you on several occasions to carry out an assessment – this is to check you’re suitable to become an adoptive parent.
  3. Arrange a police check – you will not be allowed to adopt if you, or an adult member of your family, have been convicted of a serious offence, for example against a child.
  4. Ask you to provide the names of 3 referees who will give you a personal reference. One of your referees can be a relative.
  5. Arrange for you to have a full medical examination.

Your Assessment

The social worker will send the assessment report to an independent adoption panel. This is a group of people who are experienced in adoption.

The panel will make a recommendation to the adoption agency based on your assessment.
You can go along to ask questions and answer any questions the panel has.
The adoption panel will send their recommendation to the agency, which will then decide whether you’re suitable to adopt a child.

If you can adopt a child

Once your agency decides you can adopt, they’ll begin the process of finding a child. The agency will explain how the process works and how you can be involved.

If you live in Wales your agency can refer you to the National Adoption Service for Wales. This holds details of children across Wales who need adopting.

If an adoption agency says you cannot adopt

If you disagree with an adoption agency’s decision, you can either:

  • Challenge their decision by writing to them.
  • Apply to the Independent Review Mechanism, which will look into your case.

You can also contact other adoption agencies – but you’ll have to start the process again.

Applying for an adoption court order

To make an adoption legal, you need to apply for an adoption court order. This gives you parental rights and responsibilities for the child.

The child must have lived with you for at least 10 weeks before you apply.
Once the order has been granted:

  • The adoption becomes permanent.
  • The child has the same rights as if they were your own birth child, for example, the right of inheritance.
  • You can buy a copy of the adoption certificate – you will not get this automatically.

The order also takes away parental responsibility from:

  • The child’s birth parent(s).
  • Anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child.

How to apply

Most applications for adoption orders are done at a Family Court.
You need to send the court a completed application for an adoption order – Form A58.

Getting an adoption certificate

If your application is successful, the General Register Office will create an adoption certificate. This replaces the original birth certificate and shows the child’s new name.

If you want a copy of the new certificate you need to buy one – you will not get it automatically.
A ‘full’ copy of the certificate costs £11. You can order one:

  • Online
  • By post

You need the full version for most legal tasks for your child, for example getting a passport.

Adopting a child you’ve been fostering

You need to be reassessed and approved as adoptive parents if you want to adopt the child you’ve been fostering.

Adopting a stepchild

You need to tell your local council if you want to adopt your spouse’s or partner’s child. You must do this at least 3 months before applying to court for an adoption order. The child must also have lived with both of you for at least 6 months.

The process to adopt is similar to an assessment through an adoption agency.
The assessment is used to help a court decide if you can adopt the child (rather than being sent to an independent adoption panel).

The court will ask your local council to provide a report on:

  • Your partner.
  • The child.
  • The other birth parent.

The report will be prepared by a social worker and will be used to help the court make a decision.
If granted, the adoption court order gives you parental responsibility for the child – along with your spouse or partner.

The order also takes away parental responsibility from:

  • The child’s other birth parent.
  • Anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child.
Adoption Child Adoption
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