What Is Adoption?

Adoption is the legal process that involves a child or siblings who cannot be brought up within their own birth family, to become legally part of a new family who wants to care for them and raise them up. Adopting a child can be quite a rather lengthy and challenging process whereby children have the opportunity to be raised by a new family that isn’t their biological mother or father. Adoption is a legal procedure that severs all ties, legal rights and responsibilities of a child from their biological parents by transferring them to the adoptive parents. Once the adoption is legally granted, the adoption cannot be reversed and the child is in the care of their adoptive family.


In this article, we will discuss the legal process involved within the adoption in order to share some helpful insights for those who are maybe looking into adoption and would like a little more information around the subject.


Who Is Eligible To Adopt?

Adoption is sometimes overlooked as many people out there tend to believe that they need to be a certain type of person in order to qualify, and depending on their own certain backgrounds and things that have occurred in their own lives, they may feel as though they won’t be eligible. 


To adopt, you must be over 21 and legally a UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man resident. If you have not been a legal resident for over 12 months, then you will not qualify for adoption. Criminal convictions, such as a sexual offence, or any cautions for offences involving children, will automatically rule out a persons’ eligibility to adopt. Having a Disability or an underlying health condition will not automatically rule you out and you should seek legal support to enquire about your unique situation if these apply to you. People who are single, gay or living in a rented accommodation can still adopt.


How Do You Apply?

Firstly, we advise that you find a reputable family law firm who can advise and represent you throughout the process, such as us here at Hurlows. Once you have your legal representation, you should then start looking for an adoption agency. Once you have found an agency, the process will start to get underway by carrying out background checks and seeking references from you to look over. This early stage of the adoption process usually takes around two months.


What’s The Next Stage?

After you have found an adoption agency and they have run their background checks and analysed your references, the next stage is a structural process that involves training and assessments to prepare families for caring for the child/children. This stage of the adoption process usually lasts around 6 months. 


Confidential enquiries will be issued by the local social services and police department. Social workers will be carrying out multiple visits to check whether or not you are suitable for becoming an adoptive parental guardian. The agency will also arrange for a police check and for applicants to be examined by their local GPs. Once all of these have been carried out, the agency’s independent adoption panel will consider a report on the application on whether or not applicants will be approved. Applicants have the opportunity to meet with the panel to ask questions regarding the adoption application.


Once you have passed your assessment and you are approved to adopt, the agency will then begin the process of finding a child who is waiting to be adopted.


What Happens If I Do Not Get Approved?

In these cases, an adoption agency will come to the conclusion that you are not eligible for becoming an adoptive parent. In this situation, you can challenge their decision by reaching out to the agency to ask them to review their decision. Alternatively, in England and Wales, you can request that the Independent Review Mechanism looks into the case and puts forth a recommendation to the adoption agency.


How The Adoption Becomes Legal

After the adoption agency has approved the eligibility of an applicant, they will then start the pairing process. The proposed match by the adoption agency after discussions with the applicants will then be presented to an adoption panel who will then reach a decision on whether or not the adoption agency should continue with the adoption pairing.


For the adoption to become legal, the applicants must apply for a court order. The whole point of the court order is for the adoptive parents to acquire the legal parental rights and responsibilities over the child. Before an application for the court order is sent, the adopted child must have first spent a number of weeks (usually 10) with the adoptive parents. Once the court order has been approved, the child will become entitled to the same right as if he were the parents’ birth child. All parental rights and responsibilities are relinquished from the birth parents or anyone else who had parental responsibilities prior to the adoption. An adoption certificate will also be issued and will replace the original child birth certificate, although this cost £11 to have.


How We Can Help

As specialist family law solicitors in Cardiff, covering all aspects of family law, we can help advise you and represent you throughout the entire adoption process, especially through the court order which is always a part of the family court. If you would like to inquire about the adoption process and how we can help you, please get in touch and call us on 02920 396 087. Alternatively, you can fill out our online contact form here.

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