Adopting a child into your family is a fantastic and life-changing process. It’s a decision motivated by love, compassion, and the desire to give a safe haven for a kid in need. However, if you’re new to the adoption process, it might be intimidating and perplexing. How to adopt a child? Where do you begin? Who is eligible to adopt? What is the procedure? Don’t be concerned!
In this blog article, we will walk you through the process of adopting a kid step by step. We have all the information you need to begin on this lovely experience, whether you’re exploring domestic adoption or wanting to extend your family worldwide. So, let’s get started and learn how to make your goal of becoming a parent via adoption a reality!
What is Adoption?
Adoption is a legal process that establishes a permanent and lifelong relationship between a child and their adoptive parents. It provides children with loving homes when they are unable to be raised by their birth families for various reasons. Adoption creates the opportunity for these children to grow up in stable environments where they can thrive both emotionally and physically.
When a child is adopted, their adoptive parents assume all the rights and responsibilities of being their legal parents. This means providing them with love, care, support, and guidance just like any biological parent would. Adoption not only grants the child a new family but also gives them access to healthcare, education, and other benefits that every child deserves.
Who Can Adopt a Child?
Adoption is accessible to a broader range of individuals than one might assume. There are only a few criteria that automatically disqualify someone from becoming an adopter.
To be eligible for adoption, you must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Be a legal resident in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man for a minimum of 12 months
However, individuals or households with criminal convictions or cautions related to offenses against children or serious sexual offenses cannot adopt.
These represent the sole automatic exclusions from adoption. Various other factors will be taken into account, but none of them automatically disqualify you. Single individuals, those who are gay, individuals residing in rented accommodations, and those who already have children can all pursue adoption. Disabilities and health conditions, in themselves, do not serve as automatic disqualifiers.
Who Arranges the Adoption?
There are two types of adoption processes: Non-agency adoption and adopting through an agency.
For Non-agency adoption, if you wish to adopt a close relative or step-child (e.g., the child of your spouse, civil partner, or cohabiting partner), involving an adoption agency is not necessary. Instead, you must inform your local authority about your intention to adopt the child. The local authority will thoroughly assess your situation and prepare a report for the court. The court will then consider this report when deciding whether to grant the adoption.
If you opt for adopting through an agency, whether the one provided by your local authority or any other registered adoption agency in your vicinity, it’s crucial to ensure the adoption service is registered with the Care Inspectorate. The Care Inspectorate maintains a list of registered agencies on its website.
How to Adopt a Child?
When considering adoption, individuals can explore two primary avenues:
- Local Council Adoption Agency: Engage with an adoption agency affiliated with your local council for adoption services. Initiate contact with the agency, and they will provide comprehensive information outlining the adoption process.
- Voluntary Adoption Agency: Alternatively, individuals can opt for a voluntary adoption agency. Reach out to the chosen agency, and they will guide you through the adoption process.
Navigating the Adoption Process:
- Initial Contact: Once you establish contact with the adoption agency, they will promptly send you detailed information elucidating the adoption procedure.
- Agency Meeting: The agency will schedule a meeting to get acquainted with you and discuss the adoption process. Sometimes, you may be invited to attend a gathering with other prospective adoptive parents.
- Application Submission: If both parties—applicant and agency—agree to proceed, the agency will provide you with an application form.
- Approval Timeline: The adoption approval process typically spans approximately six months. During this period, assessments and evaluations will be conducted to determine your suitability for adoption.
- Matching with a Child: Upon successful completion of the approval process, the agency will match you with a child available for adoption.
What Are the Assessment Process for Agency Adoptions?
Upon receiving your application, the agency will take the following steps:
- Invite you to local preparation classes that provide insights into the potential impact of adoption on your life
- Schedule visits from a social worker to assess your suitability as an adoptive parent through multiple sessions
- Conduct a police check to ensure no serious offenses, especially those involving a child, have been committed by you or an adult family member
- Request the names of three referees for personal references, allowing one to be a relative
- Organise a full medical examination for you
What Are the Court Processes for Adoption?
To legalise an adoption, one must apply for an adoption court order, granting parental rights and responsibilities after the child has lived with the applicant for at least 10 weeks. Upon approval:
- The adoption becomes permanent
- The child gains rights akin to those of a birth child, including inheritance rights
- An adoption certificate, not provided automatically, can be purchased
The order also revokes parental responsibility from the birth parent(s) and others with such responsibility. Applications are typically processed at a Family Court using Form A58.
Upon successful adoption, the General Register Office issues an adoption certificate, replacing the original birth certificate and displaying the child’s new name. A copy can be obtained for £11 online or by post, essential for various legal tasks like obtaining a passport.
For those fostering a child they wish to adopt, a reassessment and approval as adoptive parents are required.
Adopting a Child From Overseas
To adopt a child from overseas, certain conditions must be met:
- The child cannot be adequately cared for in their home country and adoption is deemed in their best interest
- The adopter must be assessed as eligible and suitable by a UK adoption agency
For those interested in overseas adoption in England and Wales, contact your local council; in Northern Ireland, contact the local health and social care trust. Alternatively, engage with a voluntary adoption agency handling overseas adoption. Note that Scotland has a different process.
The adoption process, resembling UK adoption, involves a UK adoption agency guiding applicants through assessments. Once approved, the Department for Education (DfE) or relevant UK Central Authority issues a Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt.
Subsequently, the adoption application and certificate are sent to the relevant overseas authority. Following a match, you visit the child in their country, undergo adoption court processes in both countries, and finalise the placement.
Upon completion, secure entry clearance for the child to enter the UK. DfE charges a non-refundable £2,500 fee for processing, excluding legalisation, notarisation, or translation costs.
Adoption from certain countries is restricted, including Cambodia, Guatemala, Nepal, Haiti, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. An exception request process exists, requiring a written explanation and supporting evidence.
Those residing abroad must follow the adoption laws of their country. UK adoption law applies if the habitual residence is in the UK, the Isle of Man, or the Channel Islands. Registration of overseas adoptions in England and Wales is possible under specific conditions outlined by the General Register Office
Adopting a child is a life-changing decision that requires careful consideration, preparation, and perseverance. It provides an opportunity to create a loving and nurturing environment for a child who needs it the most. While the process may seem overwhelming at times, with the right guidance and support, anyone can navigate through it successfully.
In this article, we have explored what adoption is and who can adopt a child. We have also discussed how adoptions are arranged by agencies or through court processes. Additionally, we touched upon adopting a child from overseas. If you are considering adoption, remember that each step in the process is crucial. Be prepared for assessments conducted by adoption agencies to ensure your suitability as parents.
So if you’re ready to open your heart and home to provide love, care, stability, and opportunities for a deserving child – take these steps outlined here into account when embarking on your journey towards adoption! We hope that this article has provided valuable insights into how to adopt a child while also serving as inspiration for those considering expanding their family through adoption.