John Boon
Adoption

Adoption Law

Adopting children can be a wonderful way to build or add to your family, as well as providing a home for children who need one. However, there is a strict adoption process you will need to go through and a number of legal issues that can arise in connection with adoption. Having the right legal advice and support is therefore essential.

Roythornes’ family law solicitors have extensive experience in adoption law, having helped a wide range of families to deal with everything from adoption applications and assessments to parental rights, birth parents’ rights and alternatives to adoption.

We regularly work on everything from straightforward matters, such as stepparents adopting their stepchildren, to the most complicated and contentious issues, such as dealing with adoption challenges from a child’s birth parents. With our sure guidance, we can help you successfully navigate all of these issues, making adoption as smooth and straightforward as possible.

You can speak to a member of our Family Law team about anything to do with adoption law by calling 01775 842500. Alternatively, please email nickingrey@roythornes.co.uk for a swift response.

How adoption works

The primary piece of legislation governing the law of adoption is the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (ACA 2002).  The provisions of this legislation should also be considered with reference to the Children Act 1989 (CA 1989).

Following the making of an Adoption Order by the Court, an adopted ‘child’ (i.e. a person who has not yet attained the age of 18) is treated in law as if they are the natural, legitimate child of the adopter(s).  In other words, the adopted child is treated as not being the child of any other person other than the adopter(s).  The effect of adoption is intended to be life-long.

Whilst Adoption Orders are often made after the intervention of the local authority and the making of a placement order following care proceedings, not every child is adopted as a result of this process, or because of the fault of the natural parent(s). It is possible for a natural parent to give their consent for the child to be adopted, although there are a number of safeguards in place to ensure that the parent is giving this consent in an informed and considered way.

Becoming an approved adopter

The first step in the adoption process is to become an approved adopter. There are two stages to this process and it usually takes up to about six months to complete.

Stage 1 – the first thing you will need to do is register your interest in becoming an adopter with a Registration of Interest form. You will then usually need to attend an adopter preparation group to learn more about adoption and meeting the needs of adopted children, as well as undertaking training and preparation so you are ready to be an adopter.

You will also need to undergo background checks and reference checks to ensure you are suitable to be an adopter.

Overall, this first stage usually takes around two months to complete.

Stage 2 – this involves a more in-depth assessment of your suitability and readiness to adopt. You will usually meet with a social worker several times, at the end of which they will produce a Prospective Adopters Report (PAR). This will be presented to the local Adoption Panel which will make the final decision on whether you are eligible to adopt. If the Adoption Panel approves you as an adopter, you can then begin the process of finding the right child or children for you.

To find out more about the adoption process or to start adoption proceedings, please get in touch with our family law team now.

Your adoption law questions answered

Who can adopt a child?

An adopter can be a single person or a couple (defined as a married couple, civil partners, or two people living together as partners in an ‘enduring family relationship’).  

The prospective adopter(s) must be over the age of 21 (with the exception of step-parental adoption, where the stepparent must have attained the age of 21, but the natural parent must only have attained the age of 18).  

How long does it take to adopt a child?

While the process of being an approved adopter usually takes up to around six months, you then need to find the right child or children and there is no set time-frame for this.

Before an application to adopt can be made, the child or children must have lived with the prospective adopter(s) for a specified period of time. The length of time depends on the identity of the prospective adopter(s) and the circumstances in which the prospective adoption has come about. 

An Adoption Order may not be made unless the Court is satisfied that the adoption agency or local authority has had sufficient opportunity to see the child or children with the prospective adopter(s) in the home environment.

Can you adopt stepchildren?

It is possible for a stepparent to adopt their stepchild or stepchildren, but the consent of all people with parental responsibility would normally be required.

If someone with parental responsibility refuses permission for the adoption, you would likely need to go to court or use alternative dispute resolution to resolve the matter.

Can birth parents oppose an Adoption Order?

Should a parent wish to oppose an application for an Adoption Order, the Court’s permission is required before such an application to oppose can be made. A sufficient change of circumstances must be shown and the Court will, in exercising its discretion, consider the prospect of success in opposing the adoption and the potential impact of the child or children in question.

Only a parent or guardian with parental responsibility for a child can oppose an application for an Adoption Order.  Those without parental responsibility (for example, wider family members, friends, or unmarried fathers who have not obtained parental responsibility) would need to apply under the CA 1989 for permission to apply for a Child Arrangements Order in order to oppose the application. 

Why choose Roythornes’ adoption lawyers for your family?

Here at Roythornes, the members of our specialist Family Law team will be able to advise you about the merits and pitfalls and the choices that may be available to you when decisions about adoption need to be made.

Our Family Law team regularly deals with complex and contentious cases across Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, the East Midlands and beyond. Any member of the team would be happy to accommodate a meeting at any of Roythornes’ four offices in Spalding, Peterborough, Nottingham and Alconbury, by telephone or by Skype/video conferencing.

We offer a sensitive, practical approach, designed to make it as easy as possible to navigate the often complex and emotive issues surrounding adoption. With our guidance, we can make the process of adopting children and dealing with any related legal matters as simple and stress-free as possible while protecting your family’s best interests at all times.

Roythornes Solicitors is Lexcel accredited by the Law Society in recognition of the high standards of our practice management and client care, and we have also received the Customer Service Excellence award.

Get in touch with our adoption law solicitors now

Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Family Law team by telephone on 01775 842500 to discuss any issues related to adoption law. Alternatively, you can email nickingrey@roythornes.co.uk.

 

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