Are you looking to adopt a child? Here at GSFL we have experienced family lawyers who can assist you with the process, to ensure that it is as simple and straightforward as it possibly can be.
What is Adoption?
The legal process of adoption provides a permanent new family for a child who cannot be raised by their biological family.
The process involves parental responsibility being transferred from the biological parents to the adoptive parents by way of an Adoption Order. Once this order has been granted it cannot be reversed, and therefore the child will lose all ties with their birth parents.
Who can Adopt a child?
There are many misconceptions surrounding who can and cannot adopt a child.
To qualify as an adoptive parent, you must be over 21 and have the resources to make space in your life for a child. In terms of finances, whilst you need to be able to evidence you can support a child, there are no constraints in respect of whether you rent or own your own home, or whether you are employed or on benefits.
You can adopt a child regardless of whether you are single, married, cohabiting, in a same-sex couple or a civil partnership. You can be from any religious background, and as long as you have a fixed and permanent home in the UK and have lived here for a least a year you do not have to be a British Citizen.
There are no restrictions in relation to whether you already have your own children, whether biological or adopted.
Prospective parents can apply to adopt a child through a recognised agency, which can be found through their local council. Once an initial enquiry has been made, the agency will then provide you with all the information you require and assess your suitability for adoption.
The agency will carry out a full assessment taking into account the suitability of your home, whether you have been convicted of any serious offences along with a medical assessment. You will also be required to provide personal references.
If you are approved, the agency will then work with your local authority to match you with a child.
This is the order which makes you the legal parents of your child and removes the parental rights and responsibilities from the child’s biological parents.
In some cases, the child’s biological family may try to oppose the Adoption Order (if the child has been placed with you in the first instance under a Placement Order, then the court’s permission is required before any application can be made).
You would be warned in advance if there is a risk of this happening, and we at GSFL can help guide you through this process if needed.
In most cases, you would not need to attend court in order to protect your identity, and you would only attend once the order has been granted.
Once the Court is satisfied that the order is in the child’s best interests, they will grant the order and you will be recognised as the legal parents of your child.
Do I need a solicitor?
Unfortunately, legal aid is not available for parents considering adopting a child. The process can seem lengthy and complicated, and given that your child’s future is being determined, it is understandable that some families may want to seek legal advice.
As proposed adopters, you will need to file an application form, any mistakes in this form could delay the process and it is therefore advisable to seek legal advice with completing this form.
A social worker will be assigned to you to carry out initial assessments, and if you have instructed a solicitor you can apply for these reports can be sent directly to us so that we can explain the findings and potential next steps.
If the child’s birth parents oppose the adoption, the court is under a duty to carry out a thorough investigation. You may be asked to file a statement of facts to aid the court with their decision, and we can help you with preparing this statement. The child will be appointed a guardian by the court during this process and they will also file a statement on behalf of the child. We can also apply for this to be disclosed, if necessary.
The final stage is the adoption hearing, in which the child’s guardian will attend. Potential parents do not usually attend this in order to protect their identity from the birth parents.
Please contact us for more information.