Adopt a child and change a life

Adopt a child and a change a life today by providing a new family for children who were unable to have one.

Adoption is the legal child adoption process in which a child or children who cannot be brought up within their birth family become full, permanent and legal members of a new family. Children may not have a family due to the death of their parents or in circumstances where parents are not capable of looking after their children and their needs. Adopting a child provides a child who cannot be raised by their own parents an opportunity to complete their family with a new home and parents.

Adopting a child allows the adopting parents to become the child’s legal parents with the same rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them. By adopting a child, you acquire parental responsibility for the child from the biological parents. When you are adopting a child, the biological parents sever legal ties with their biological child. Child Adoption can change the life of innocent children and provide them with a strong and stable family life. This article considers the stages of adoption and how you can go about adopting a child.

Article Contents

Why should you consider adopting a child?

According to family lives there are around 6,000 children in the UK who need adopting every year. These children are deprived of a family life and are often not provided with the love and care they would like. Children in need of adoption come from a variety of backgrounds. Some of these children may be disabled whilst others have been through abuse or neglect.

Adopt a child and change a life

There are numerous advantages for children who are adopted, and adoption can change their life. Adopted children grow up in a family that will lovingly and selflessly care for them.
Other advantages of adopting a child include:

• They have committed parents and a stable home
• They have opportunities and resources that you may not have been able to provide for them at your stage in life

How you can adopt a child and change a life

As well as changing a child’s life adopting a child can also change the life of families that choose to adopt. Adopting parents benefit from the joy and blessing of adding a child to their family and provides them with an opportunity to raise a child and provide a loving home to a deprived child. Often adopting parents may not be able to have their own children so they adopt a child and change a life of not only the child but their own.

Who can consider adopting a child?

In order for you to be eligible for adopting a child you must be over the age of 21 years. There is no upper age limit for adoption. There is no restriction on whether you are single, married or unmarried. People adopting a child can also be from any ethnic or religious background and can adopt regardless of whether they are heterosexual, bisexual or transgender. Parents who already have children or have previously adopted can still consider and apply for adopting a child. Furthermore, for adopting a child you do not need to own a home and could even be living in rented accommodation.

Who cannot be considered when adopting a child?

Although the rules on adopting a child are quite flexible, restrictions are placed on certain individuals and characteristics. People who are unable to adopt are child are:

  • If you are under the age of 21, you cannot adopt legally in the UK.
  • You must be legally resident in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. You must have been resident for at least 12 months. Therefore, if you are not resident in these locations you will be unable to legally adopt in the UK. Furthermore, if you are a UK citizen who lives abroad then you cannot adopt from the UK.
  • If you or a member of your household have a criminal conviction or caution in relation to offences against children or sexual offences, then you will not be taken into consideration for adopting a child.

What is the first step to adoption?

Once you have taken the decision of adopting a child you will need to contact an adoption agency. There are many adoption agencies in the UK such as Barnardos, adoption matters, IAC and many more. The chosen adoption agency will discuss the details of adoption in detail and assist you in making an informed decision. You will then need to complete an application form.

Once an application has been accepted by the adoption agency a 2 stage process follows before you can adopt a child.

Preparation Training

The first stage of the adoption process is known as preparation training. This usually lasts 2 months and involves learning about what is involved in adopting a child and references and checks are obtained for each applicant.

Adopters will be expected to undertake preparation training, spend time researching adoption and complete an adoption journey log.

Adoption Assessment to adopt a child

When adopting a child the adoption assessment is the second stage of the adoption process. This usually lasts for a period of 4 months. The adoption assessment involves intensive assessment and preparation as well as further training to ensure the adopting parent or parents are ready to be recommended for approval for adopting a child.

During this stage the adopting parents are allocated an assessing social worker who will visit them around six to eight times and prepare a Prospective Adopters Report. Adopting parents will also be expected to attend an adoption preparation course. 

The adoption assessment stage also involves:

  • Police checks
  • Reference checks
  • Medical examinations
  • Any other assessments deemed appropriate to the case, including investigations of other immediate family members

Once completed the report is presented to an independent adoption panel.

The Adoption Panel

The panel consists of professionals which include social workers, medical and educational professionals, adoptive parents, adopted people, a chairperson and an independent panel advisor.

Adopting parents will be invited to attend. The panel will have reviewed and considered the Prospective Adopters Report and will ask you any questions they have and allow you to ask them any questions with regards to adopting a child.

The panel will subsequently make a recommendation on your decision of adopting a child and your chosen agencies decision maker will make the final decision about the suitability of the adopting parents.

Finding a family

The next stage of the adoption process is finding a family for a child. Your chosen adoption agency’s social workers will spend their time working with adopters, social workers and the social workers of children with an adoption plan to find and match children with adopters who can meet their needs.

Once a match has been made the adopting family spends time with the child to get to know the child. This is usually undertaken with the assistance of your adoption social worker. A series of visits and short stays lead up to the child moving in, once this process is complete you can apply to the court to become their legal parent and to formalise the child’s relationship to you.

Is adopting a child from abroad possible?

Quite often people may consider adopting a child from abroad. Whilst in the UK you can legally consider adopting a child from abroad if:

  • The child cannot be cared for in a safe environment in their own country,
  • The adoption is in the best interests of the child and
  • The adopter has been assessed as eligible and suitable to adopt from abroad by an adoption agency in the UK.

When adopting a child from abroad you must contact either your local council or an adoption agency which deals with overseas adoption.

The process for adopting a child from abroad is similar to a UK adoption process. In addition to the UK process when adopting a child from abroad the assessment will be sent to the overseas adoption authority. You will also need to visit the child in their country and your application will be sent to the child’s country.

When adopting a child from abroad the Department for Education (DfE) charges a fee of £1,975.00 for processing the application. Whilst adopting a baby from abroad is possible, the UK has restricted adoption from Cambodia, Nepal, Haiti, Ethiopia and Guatemala.

Following a successful application for adopting a child from abroad, you can apply to register an overseas adoption in the Adopted Child Register. In order to register the adoption the adoptive parents must be habitually resident in England and Wales at the time of the adoption and must be able to provide all supporting documents which are requested in the Form ACR 52.

If you would like to discuss more about adopting a child from abroad or adopting a child generally then contact our family specialists who will be able to provide you with all the information you need.

Can you only adopt a child who is without a family?

The most common form of adoption is where a family adopt a child who does not have a family or the child’s parents are unable to adequately look after and raise a child. In such circumstances the local authority may have placed the child for adoption which would be approved by the family court. 

However other forms of adoption are also possible. A step parent may want to legalise and formalise their relation with their step child. In such instances step parents may also want to know whether they can adopt their step child. Our family specialists consider below the different forms and ways in which child adoption could take place.

Can a step parent consider adopting a child?

The Child Welfare Information Gateway have confirmed that  adopting a step child is the most common form of adoption. A step parent who wants to adopt a child will be agreeing to becoming the legal parent of the child. In turn they will obtain parental responsibility of the child and will become the legal parent of the child.

The step parent will become fully responsible for the child just as the child was their own biological child. The non-custodial parent will no longer have any rights over their biological child. Adopting a child who you consider as a stepchild is a way of consolidating the existing relationship you share with them.

How can a step parent be eligible to apply for step-parent adoption?

In order for a step parent to be considered for adopting a child they must be over the age of 21 years old and the child must be under the age of 18 years at the time of the application. A step parent must also be a British citizen or a resident in the UK for at least 12 months prior to the application. Finally to be considered for step parent adoption the child must have lived with you for at least six months before the application.

Who needs to consent to a step parent adoption?

Step parent adoption will require the consent of the child’s legal parents provided they have parental responsibility. As mothers have automatic parental responsibility of their biological child a step parent will need to obtain their consent. The fathers consent will also be needed if the child is his biological child and he is named on the child’s birth certificate. If the father however is not traceable and has abandoned the child then their consent will not be needed, however the courts may still make enquiries to see if they have any opinions or feelings on permanently losing their rights as a parent.

If, however a father is not named on the birth certificate and does not have parental responsibility over their biological child then a formal consent from the father is not needed. Even though the child’s parent does not have parental responsibility the courts may investigate the individual circumstances and may seek the fathers opinion and feelings about the adoption.

What is the step parent adoption process?

The step parent adoption process is very similar to adopting a child for whom you are not a step parent. In order to commence the step parent adoption process you will need give written notice of your intention of adopting a child to your local authority. The local authority will then appoint a social worker who will investigate your case. This initial part of the step parent adoption process will involve the social working preparing a report to the court making a representation as to what is in the best interests of the child.

Once you have provided notice of your intention of adopting a child to your local authority you must wait at least 3 months before making an application to the court. During this stage of the step parent adoption process you will need to complete the Form A58 and issue this to the court with the relevant documents and the court fee.

The step parent adoption process also involved have one or more court hearings for your application to be considered and whether appropriate consents are in place. The courts will consider whether the order will be in your child’s best interests.

Once the courts consider the adoption application, they will provide an adoption order. The next step of the step parent adoption process would be to obtain an adoption certificate which records you and the other parent as the legal parents.

What is the role of foster parents?

Foster parents are people who are open to providing their homes and care to other people’s children. Quite often these children are not able to return home to live with their parents. Foster parents provide a safe and secure for children. They maintain a close interest in the lives of the children whilst teaching them how to behave and understanding their uniqueness of each child.

Foster parents are likely to maintain contact with the children’s biological parents and family members. As a result, children in foster care do not always forget about their relations.

Can foster parents consider adopting a child?

According to not every foster parent intends to adopt the children they foster. Despite fostering a child being a temporary arrangement we often we see foster parents getting attached to children they foster. Some foster parents will therefore consider adopting their foster child. Foster care adoption provides permanency to both the foster parents and the foster child.

However not all foster children become available for adoption. Some foster children may end up being reunited with their parents if it is safe to do so or alternatively may be sent to a relative’s house.

When fostering a child the aim is to reunify the foster child with their parent. The courts usually provide the parents at least one year to work their case plan and adjust themselves so they are in a position to be united with their children.  However if the parents have not completed their case plan then the court will usually grant a further extension of 6 months to a year. If an extension is not granted, or if following the conclusion of the extension the parents are not able to support their case for reunification then the courts will terminate the parental rights.

Once parental rights are terminated the child will then be matched with a family for adoption. If a foster parent is caring for a child, they will be considered first. If you have been matched with child on the basis of fostering the child, then you can look to finalise foster care adoption.

Once all the paperwork for foster care adoption is finalised and filed with the court then you will await a date to finalise your foster care adoption. The adoption date must be at least 6 months after the child was placed in your home. This is usually not an issue for foster care adoption given that the child will probably have been in your foster care for at least a year or more.

Once the foster care adoption has been finalised the adoption of the child can be registered resulting in an adoption certificate confirming your details as the legal parent.

Questions and Answers

How much does it cost to adopt a child in the UK?

An adoption agency in the United Kingdom can not charge you a fee for arranging the adoption of a child. Despite there not being a fee for adopting a child you may however be responsible for other associated costs. These will usually include the cost for court fees, or the fees associated with any police checks. You will also not be responsible for the costs associated with the assessment process itself too.

Are there any costs associated with adopting a child from abroad?

Adopting a child from abroad can prove to be quite costly as the cost of the process is much higher than the process within the United Kingdom. If you are looking to adopt a child from abroad, you will need to pay for the adoption process. This cost could be in the region of between £10,000.00 and £12,000.00. You will also need to factor in the travel costs for when you will be required to go abroad to complete the adoption process.

Arrange a free consultation to adopt a child and change a life today 

If you would like more information on how you can adopt a child and change a life  or you would like to know whether adopting a child is a good option for you then contact us today on 0330 094 5880 to discuss your options or let us call you back.

Our family lawyers in Newcastle as well as nationally will be able to assist you on query you have relating to adopting a child or any other child law matter.