Adopting a Child 101

Choosing to adopt a child is one of the most important decisions you could ever make. The adoption process is strictly monitored and there are a number of interviews and observations made on perspective adopters before a child is given to them.

Many children who are in care homes or foster care as a result of abuse or neglect are available for adoption.  These children are generally older, figures from 2015 show that 37% were aged between 5 and 11 years old 30% were aged between 12 and 15 years old.

 What is adoption?

Adoption is a legal procedure where parental responsibility is transferred from the child’s birth parents to the adopters. 

What is the difference between fostering a child and adopting one?

Fostering is a temporary arrangement (however, it can be long-term) and foster parents share parental responsibility with local authorities and the child’s parents.

Are there a lot of conditions which must be met before I can adopt?

Not as many as you may imagine.  Adopters must be over 21 years but there is no upper age limit. Non-married and same sex couples will be considered as will people with disabilities.

Studies have shown that children usually do best when brought up in a family that reflects or promotes their ethnic, cultural or religious identity.  The Adoption Statutory Guidance 2011 provides a framework for balancing the child’s cultural and religious needs whilst not delaying the chance of them being placed with a permanent family.

The most important things officials are looking for is that you have the energy and resources to provide a stable home for a child who may have come from a difficult background.

How do I apply to adopt a child?

To legally adopt a child, you will need to go through an adoption agency, often co-ordinated by local authorities.

How long can adoption process take?

The adoption process is split into two stages and usually takes around six months.  The first stage consists of registrations and checks, allowing time for you to read up on the adoption process and discover if it is really right for you.

The second stage involves a social worker making several visits to your home and assessing your suitability.

How is a child matched to me?

If you are approved, then the adoption agency will look to match a child to you and your family.

What happens when a child is matched to me?

Once a child is matched to you, the process of moving in happens slowly over a few weeks, with social workers being on hand to provide support.  The child must live with you for a certain period before an application to adopt can be made to the court.  Normally, the birth parent must consent to the adoption, however, if they refuse, the court can override their wishes in certain circumstances.

To find out more about the law surrounding adopting a child in the UK, you can search for a family law solicitor at Solicitors Guru.

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