Over the years we have published many blogs and it got me wondering what I would want to know before picking up the phone and making an appointment to see a family solicitor. Below you will find some questions and answers in bite size chunks which...
Adoption is a major decision with lifelong implications for you, the child and your family. It is essential to have the right help and support to assist you through the process.
What is involved?
An adoption order is an order conferring parental responsibility for a child to the adopter(s) and at the same time extinguishing the parental responsibility which any person had for the child immediately before the making of an order. Once an adoption order is made the child is deemed to be the adopter’s legitimate child. Married couples, civil partners, single parents or one person in an unmarried couple, whether heterosexual, lesbian or gay can adopt.
In order to adopt, the adopter must have attained the age of 21 years and, the applicant, or at least one of the parents if adopting as a couple must be domiciled in a part of the British Isles or have been habitually resident in the British Isles for a period of not less than one year ending with the date of the application.
Before the process can start it is necessary for the proposed adopters to contact social services and notify them of their intention to adopt. They will be assessed and approved by their local authority or a voluntary adoption agency (the adoption agency). This will result in the production of a report. This can be a lengthy process and will include the provision of counselling and detailed information about the process to the proposed adopters, it usually takes at least six months for the social workers from the adoption agency to get to know the prospective adopters, assess them and help them prepare for the task ahead. Various medical and criminal record checks have to be completed and the adopters will normally be required to provide at least two references from friends. The application to adopt will then go before an adoption panel, which consider the report and make an assessment; the prospective parent(s) will have the opportunity to meet the panel.
Once the proposed adopters have been approved they can move on to identify a suitable child to adopt with the assistance of their social worker. It can take a long period of time for the matching process to conclude. The social worker will be heavily involved in assessing whether the proposed adoptive family is the right match for the specific child. Finally the matter will come back before the adoption panel to recommend whether there should be a match between the child and the family, followed by a formal application to the court for an adoption order.
Adoption from abroad is a complex process. There are strict rules to follow and a criminal offence may be committed if they are not. When the proposed adopters first contact their local authority they need to inform them of their wish to apply to adopt a child from abroad. There will be a report prepared by the adoption agency and the matter will go before the adoption panel to make a recommendation as to whether or not the proposed adopters are suitable to adopt.
Once approved the adoption agency send the application to the Department for Children, Schools and Families who in turn check the application to satisfy themselves that the proposed adopters have been approved in accordance with UK law. A certificate of eligibility and suitability to adopt is issued and the relevant papers and certificate, translated and notarised will be sent to the authorities in the country from which they wish to adopt.
Adoption of a relative's or spouse's child
The law relating to the adoption of a relative’s or spouse’s child is complex. There are a range of possible orders that can be made including adoption, special guardianship orders. There are alternatives to a court order that will permanently extinguish a child’s ties with his or her birth family, such as a residence order.
Why we are different?
Adoption is a highly specialised area of law. Your case will be handled by one of our dedicated family solicitors who will be there to guide and support you through the adoption process. We can assist you with:-
- Advising on the duties of Local Authorities and Adoption Agencies in relation to the assessment process, including appealing a negative assessment to the Independent Review Mechanism;
- Legal representation in adoption proceedings in England and Wales, including inter-country adoption applications.
Your Next Step
For more information, call us today on 0208 882 9850