There are many laws, all of which are very strict, around the adoption of a child as it concerns the child’s welfare. Therefore is is important to seek legal advice as the process is complex and has legal implications.
What is adoption?
It is a legal procedure that transfers all legal responsibility for a child to the adopters. This procedure is a way of giving a child a new home if their parents are unable to raise them. An adoption cannot be reversed once it has been granted by the authorities, there for the legal advice is important.
Once a child has been adopted the biological parents lose all legal rights for them, the child will become a member of the adoptive family and, in most cases, takes the adoptive family’s surname.
There are four different types of adoption which are:
- Domestic adoption – this is within England and Wales, it is the adoption of a child that is a family member or is under the local authority.
- International adoption – When the adopted child has travelled from outside of England and Wales but the adopters a residents here.
- Step-parent adoption
- Foster parent adoption
Who can be adopted?
In order for a child to be eligible for adoption they must:
- Be under the age of 18
- Not be married/in a civil partnership, nor should they ever have been in such a relationship.
- Have consent from their parents to be adopted (unless the parents cannot be found or are incapable of giving consent)
- Not face any risk if they are to be adopted.
What is the process?
There are a few ways to begin the process, either by contacting and adoption agency linked to your local council or a voluntary adoption agency. As mentioned the process is complex but the basic steps are:
- Contacting the agency
- Meeting the agency
The approval process takes, on average, around 6 months, in this time a thorough adoption assessment will be conducted regarding your suitability, after this you can then be matched with a child to adopt.
How do I adopt my step-child? Will the process differ?
To adopt the child of your partner/spouse you must first inform the local council of your intention. This has to be done at least 3 months prior to applying to the Court for an adoption order. The child you wish to adopt must have been living with you and your partner/spouse for a minimum of 6 months.
How can I stop my child being adopted?
The adoption process can be stopped up until the point of those wish to adopt your child apply to the Courts for an adoption order, this is the stage after the have applied and been approved to adopt.
In order to retain your parental rights you might have to go to an adoption Court to present and defend your case. In order to assess you right to maintain legal ties with your child the Court will consider an assessment provided by an independent social worker. It is the job of the social worker, on behalf of the Courts, to safeguard the interests of your child by meeting with you. The assessment of your case will include the following:
- Gaining an understanding of your reasoning for not wanting the adoption to proceed.
- Portraying your views to the Court
If you wish to explain yourself why you do not want your child to be adopted