Different types of adoption
Making the decision to become adoptive parents is not always an easy one and the path to achieving a satisfactory outcome is fraught with difficulties and complications. There is also a range of adoption types, and each one of them is complex with its own legal implications. International adoption can be even more complicated as the laws of each country differ greatly.
What are the basic rules of adoption?
Only children under the age of 18 years and who aren’t (or never have been) married can be adopted, and the adoptive parents must be at least 21 years old.
The adoption process takes around 6 months during which time you will be assessed by an adoption agency before you are matched with a child for adoption.
How does the adoption process work?
Initially you will be invited to attend some preparation classes where you will learn all about adoption. You will also be visited several times by a social worker who will assess your suitability to be an adoptive parent. A police check will also be carried out on you, you will be asked to provide three referees and you will also need to undergo a complete medical examination.
The report will be passed on to an independent adoption panel which will recommend on your suitability to adopt. If you are considered suitable then they will start to seek a suitable child for you.
I have been turned down for adoption. Can I appeal?
Yes, you are able to appeal. You should write to the adoption agency and challenge their decision. There is also an Independent Review Mechanism that you can appeal to.
Can I adopt a child if I am single and not in a civil partnership?
Yes, it is possible for a single person to adopt a child, although it can be more difficult.
What are the different types of adoption?
The main categories of adoption are:
- Adoption by a step parent
- Adoption by a foster parent
- Adoption by relatives
- Adoption from care
- Adoption by a single person
- Same sex couple adoption
- International adoption
Can I adopt my stepchild?
If you wish to take parental responsibility for the child of your spouse or partner, then you can apply to adopt your stepchild.
You must inform your local council of your intention at least three months before you apply to the court for an adoption order and the child must also have lived with you and your partner for a minimum of 6 months.
The actual process used by the council follows a similar course to assessment by an adoption agency and the assessment will be considered by the court when they decide on whether to allow the adoption to go ahead. The report will be written by a social worker and will include information on you, your partner, the child and the other biological parent.
If the adoption is allowed, then the other biological parent will no longer have any parental responsibility for the child.
How do I adopt my foster child?
Foster parents are able to adopt their foster children; however the process is exactly the same as ordinary adoption. Even though you have been assessed as a suitable foster parent, you will need to go through a full assessment for adoption.
Can a same sex couple adopt?
If you are living with or are in a civil partnership with a person of the same sex, then it is possible to adopt.
Can we adopt a child from overseas?
It is only possible to adopt a child from overseas if it is not possible to provide a safe environment for their care in their own country. It also must be clear that the child’s interests would be best served by being adopted.
You will need to have been assessed by a UK adoption agency and found to be eligible and suitable for adopting an overseas child. There are voluntary adoption agencies you can contact that deal specifically with overseas adoptions, and you can also get help from your local council.
Your assessment will be passed on to the overseas adoption authority and you will need to visit that country in order to meet the child.
How do I apply for an adoption court order?
An adoption court order is needed to give you parental rights and responsibilities over the child and to make the adoption legal. You can only apply after the child has lived with you for a minimum period of 10 weeks.
You will receive an adoption certificate which replaces the birth certificate and the child enjoys the same legal rights as would your birth child.
You should make the application to a Family Proceedings Court.
Do I need a solicitor?
Adoption is a complex process and there are far more parents wishing to adopt than those that are permitted to do so. A solicitor specialising in adoption will be able to offer advice throughout the process and to assist you with its legal implications.