A child who is adopted becomes a legal member of his or her new family and stops being a member of his or her birth family. The concept of adoption stretches back to the Old Testament where there were stories of a child joining a family other than his or her own.
Adopting a child can happen under different circumstances and involves a child becoming a legal member of a new family, and stops being a member of their birth family. The concept of adoption isn’t new; it stretches back to the Old Testament where there were stories of a child joining a family other than his or her own.
Adoption happens for many reasons. You might not be able to have your own biological children, you might be a step-parent might want to adopt their new partner’s children, due to family circumstances or for the safety of a child you might want to adopt a family member’s child or children or for the safety of the child, or you might want to provide a family for children who might not have one.
Whatever the situation you, the prospective adoptive parent or child are in, when it comes to rewriting of the legal ties for a child, the law is understandably complex, and there are many safeguards built in for the protection of the child(ren) involved.
If a child is to be adopted, they must be under 18 when the application is made and not married or in a civil partnership. You will also need the consent of both birth parents, except where they are not traceable, cannot give consent or if the child will be at risk unless they are adopted.
If you are considering adoption, you must be 21 or over, and although your marital status does not affect your application, there are rules if you are adopting privately or are adopting looked-after children. You must also have a fixed and permanent home in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man and lived in the UK for at least a year before starting the application process.
If you are ready to adopt a child, you can either go through an adoption agency that’s part of your local council or use a voluntary adoption agency. Contact your local council or the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies to find out more.
You will then go through the adoption assessment process; undergoing preparation classes, working with a social worker and undergoing a police check. You will also need to provide references and undergo a full medical.
If you can adopt a child, you will then need to apply for an adoption court order, which usually happens at Family Court. This order makes the adoption permanent and gives the child or children the same rights as if they are your biological children.
At Anthony Collins Solicitors we have over 30 years experience of helping with the adoption of children within the jurisdiction (England and Wales) as well as from outside. Adopting from outside of England and Wales is now a highly-specialised area, and modern adoptions improperly undertaken could result in criminal prosecution or a breach of the immigration laws. Not being aware of the law may have unexpected and disastrous consequences.
Recognised as leaders in this field, we have been appointed by the Court on a number of matters involving adoptions to represent the children engaged in said adoptions, both in the UK and, often, from abroad. Recent experience includes adoptions in Nigeria, Pakistan, Norway, India and the USA.
How we can help you with legal services surrounding adoption?
At Anthony Collins Solicitors, you will get a service tailored to your specific needs at all stages of the process. From setting out and considering whether adoption is the right way for you to add to your family, through the assessment process at the local authority, to the legal minefield of adopting a child who has been made subject to a Placement Order in favour of an adoption agency or whether it is a private adoption.
We appreciate that often you will receive support from the adoption agency or your assessing social worker. You should not take this support in isolation, and it is always helpful to obtain specialist independent legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Through our experience in assisting not only adopters but being appointed by the court to help children, we have a unique viewpoint in that we can see adoptions from all angles and from all situations that invariably present themselves in court. This is particularly the case whereby the adoption itself may become contested by birth parents and/or issues arise surrounding packages of support around the adoption.
Our family team is recognised for its excellence by the Legal 500, who rank us as a Tier 1 firm in the West Midlands and we are highly-ranked in Band B by Chambers & Partners. We are the only firm with a dedicated children’s team to be ranked this highly by both directories. We have spoken at conferences regarding adoption all over the country, including delivering training to government agencies on the law, and appeared in all levels of court, including the High Court. Several of the solicitors in our dedicated children’s law team have a specialist accreditation by the Law Society, for their knowledge and experience in acting for clients in children’s proceedings. These cases that we deal with frequently include issues of adoption, so we have the necessary expertise to represent you to a successful outcome and to be able to advise you of potential pitfalls and negate them along the way.
In very rare cases, legal aid is available to carry out an adoption. You can read our leaflet about legal aid here. If you think you may qualify for legal aid then please do call us so that you can speak to a Duty Solicitor who will be able to advise you further.
If you would like further information about adoption or how our family law team can help you, please get in touch.