Who can and cannot adopt children is a very emotive subject. It can be difficult to decide who has the right circumstances to be able to look after a child and naturally this is often debated amongst politicians, families and pretty much anyone concerned with the welfare of children. In this article, we are looking mainly at the legal issues around adopting children and what you need to be aware of when you are looking to adopt.
Who needs to be adopted?
Every year 6,000 children in the UK are looking to be adopted and these children come from a number of different backgrounds. At least half are school age and often they will have brothers and sisters who will need to be adopted with them as well.
Who can adopt?
If you want to adopt a child you need to be at least 21 years of age and be a British citizen (or have been a British citizen for at least a year.) There are no limits in terms of relationship (you can adopt if you are single) and it is not based on ethnicity, disability, financial situation or whether or not you already have children.
How do I adopt a child?
There are numerous local authorities and voluntary agencies that arrange adoptions. While there is no limit on where a child can go in practise agencies tend to operate in a 50 mile radius.
There are two stages to the adoption process – initially the registration and checking process. During this two month period you will be assessed and the agency will offer you guidance on how to look after the child and they will ensure that you understand your parental responsibilities.
The second stage is the assessment and approval stage. Some agencies may have to refer to a larger organisation to do this part. An agency worker will often make visits in person and may wish for references as to your good character, in order to have a more in-depth assessment of your suitability as a carer.
The carer will then pass on a written report to their superiors – generally speaking this process can take around two months but it may be possible to ask for more time (or the agency assessing you may require more time.) It is also possible to ask to see the written report and discuss their findings.
What if I’m refused?
If you apply to adopt a child and you are refused, it is possible to appeal the decision. In England and Wales you can request for an Independent Review Mechanism to assess whether or not the initial decision was fair (there are also equivalent procedures in Scotland and Northern Ireland.)
If you are looking to adopt and want specific information regarding your own circumstances or if you need help getting a decision reviewed please contact us and we will offer the best advice to help you in your current circumstances.
While we cannot guarantee that we can reverse any decisions made we can ensure you have the strongest possible appeal and we can check to ensure whether or not you were fairly assessed. In short, if you want help please come to us!