Adoption is a long and complicated process as the law must ensure that you are suitable to be an adoptive parent. Before you can even start the adoption process, there are a few conditions that must be met:
- The child must be under the age of 18 and have never been married.
- Both birth parents consent to the adoption. However, the birth parents consent may not be required in some circumstances, which are: when the birth parents cannot be found, if the birth parents are incapable of providing consent, or if it’s in the child’s best interests.
- You must be over the age of 21
- You live in the UK. If you’re not a British citizen, you can still adopt if you or your partner have a fixed or permanent home in the UK, or if you or your partner have been living in the UK for at least one year before you begin the application process.
Once you have met all of the above criteria, you can follow the three-step process of adopting a child.
The three-step adoption process:
1. Approaching an adoption agency. When you contact an adoption agency, they’ll send you information about the adoption process and arrange to meet you to discuss. Following on from the meeting, if both you and the agency are happy to go ahead, they will give you an application form.
2. Adoption assessment. Once you have completed the application form and handed it to the adoption agency, they will start their assessment, determining whether you’re fit to adopt a child. The assessment will include medical examinations, police checks to identify any previous crimes, social worker visits, and collecting three personal references. If you pass the agency assessment, you can move onto the final step.
3. Adoption application. Finally, a child will be placed with you and you will need to make an application for an adoption court order at the Family Court. The application stage is where people usually instruct a specialist adoption solicitor to ensure the legal application process is completed correctly.