Adopting a child can be great for both the parents and the child, providing them a stable home environment. However, it is important for anyone looking to adopt to be aware of the legal procedure to help make sure this goes through in the smoothest way possible.

Who can adopt?

When it comes to adoption, if you are above the age of 21 and can provide a stable environment, then you could be eligible to adopt. There is no maximum age when someone can apply to look after a child.

You can adopt if you are single, married, a civil partner, or unmarried (all regardless of gender). It is also possible to apply if you are not a British citizen, but you have been based in Britain, and both you and your partner have been based in the country for at least a year. The court will decide if you can offer a stable home life based on your circumstances.

How does it work?

Before a child can be adopted, an “adoption order” has to be made. The court has to decide that the birth parents are no longer able to look after the child, and therefore, someone is legally able to adopt.

For an order to be issued the court must be satisfied that the child was under 18 when the claim was made, the child is not/has never been in a marriage/civil partnership and that the birth parents have given their consent for the order to take place (or in exceptional circumstances the order can be made if they believe the parents are incapable of offering their consent or if the child would be at risk if the process was delayed.)

What is the process?

At the start of the process, the agency will invite you to preparation classes, offering information on looking after children and discussing issues such as how bringing in an adopted child could have an effect on other members of the family.

They will also carry out police checks, check with referees who know you, organise a medical examination and a visit from a social worker in order to check that your home is suitable for the child. Once this is finished, an adoption panel will consider your application, then make a recommendation to the court.

If the panel recommends you, the child then stays with you for around 10 weeks. During this time, the court can then decide whether to issue the order and allow you to adopt.

Is there an appeal process?

If you disagree you can talk to the agency and tell them why you disagree with their decision, or alternatively take the case to the Independent Review Mechanism to take a closer look at the decision-making process to ensure that it was fair.

We can help

If you are concerned about the adoption process and want more information, or want to discuss your personal situation in more detail, please contact Larcomes today so we can put you in touch with a legal specialist and help you through the adoption process.