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If you are considering adoption, we advise you consult the services of an experienced family lawyer
Adopting a child is undoubtedly a rewarding experience but, in some circumstances and for some families, it can bring challenges. You may be offering to share your home with, and become the legal parent of, a child who has been unable to live with its birth parents, for a wide variety of reasons which might include not being able to offer a home because an assessment has been made which has concluded the birth parents are unable to care adequately for the child themselves.
Whatever the circumstances, the birth parents, if they are able, will have to consent to an adoption in the event a Family Court has not already made a declaration that adoption is in the child’s best interests.
It is important to note from the outset what is required within the process and whether there are any restrictions which might prevent you from legally adopting. You may be able to adopt a child if you’re aged 21 or over. It doesn’t matter whether you are married or in a civil partnership, are an unmarried couple, single or even the partner of a child’s existing parent.
A potential adopter does not need to be a British citizen but must have a permanent settled home in the United Kingdom and have lived here for 12 months or more before the application process is started. Any child you are seeking to adopt must be under the age of 18 when the adoption application is made to court and must not have been married or in a civil partnership themselves.
Rules differ depending on whether you are seeking to pursue a private adoption via an agency or otherwise, and adoptions of children looked after by the local authority in which they reside. You can contact either a local authority or adoption agency to start the adoption process; they will send you information and arrange to meet with you if you decide to proceed with a formal application.
If you do plan to adopt, you may find the process takes six months or longer. It will include an assessment of your application following some preparatory work including background checks with the police and other relevant agencies to establish you are a suitable candidate, several meetings with an allocated social worker who will conduct interviews with you, as well as a medical assessment.
Once the assessment is complete, your social worker will prepare a report that is submitted to an independent panel of experienced adoption practitioners who will make a recommendation to the adoption agency with which you are involved. They will then make the decision: if they declare you to be suitable to adopt a child, they will take the necessary steps to match you with a child and refer you to the appropriate adoption service for England and Wales which holds details of children available for adoption.
Should the adoption agency reject your application, bear in mind that you have the right to challenge this decision.
When you have been matched with a child, provided the child has lived with you for 10 weeks or more, you will be able to apply to court for an Adoption Order to grant you Parental Responsibility, giving the child with the same rights as though they had been your own child from birth.
The process will differ somewhat if you are seeking to adopt your partner’s own child. In any event, you must have lived with your partner and child for at least six months before commencing the process. If you are in any doubt about your ability to adopt a child, then you should seek assistance as soon as you decide to take the first step.
If you are considering adoption, we strongly advise you to consult the services of an experienced family lawyer. Please contact our team today on 03333 058375, or email firstname.lastname@example.org We are here to help you.
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