Adoption Law FAQs

Do I have to be a certain age to adopt?
Yes, you must be 21 or over unless you are the birth parent of the child and you and your partner (who is not the birth parent) want to adopt, then you need only be 18 or over, but your partner must be 21 or over.
Who can apply for an adoption order?
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 now makes it possible for the following groups to apply:

a) Single people.

b) Married couples applying jointly.

c) Unmarried couples applying jointly.

d) A step-parent, (provided the child has had his/her home with them for at least 6 months preceding the application).

e) Foster carers, (where the child has lived with them for at least 12 months before an application is made).

f) Lesbian and gay couples.

g) Others who do not fit into the categories above, such as a partner of the child's parent or a relative of the child.

For joint applications at least one of the couple must have their permanent home in a part of the British Isles, and both must have lived in a part of the British Isles for a period of not less than one year, before the date an application for adoption is made.

Which courts can deal with adoption proceedings?
Magistrates Court, County Court or High Court. If there are already court orders made involving the child, then the adoption order should be started in that court. If the child is going to be a party in the court case, or the adoption involves a child from abroad then it must be started in the High Court.
Who is a "Protected Child"?
A protected child is a child who has not been placed for adoption by an agency. Instead the local authorities are involved in ensuring the child's interests are protected in the adoption proceedings.
Does the child have to have been living with us first before we can start adoption proceedings?
If the adoptees are a parent and step-parent of the child then the child must have been living with the proposed adopters for at least 6 months before an application is made. Where the child is placed for adoption by an adoption agency, (including local authorities) then the child must have had his or her home with the applicants for at least 10 weeks before the application is made. This 10 week requirement also applies to a natural parent applying to adopt his / her own child. In the case of other relatives who wish to apply to adopt the child, they must show the child has lived with them for not less than 3 years of the 5 year period before an application can be made. If the adoptees were previously the child's foster parents then the child must have been living with the adoptees for at least 12 months before an adoption order can be made.
Does an unmarried father have any rights to stop the adoption of his child?
Yes, if he has a parental responsibility order or a parental responsibility agreement (see Children section). He can then apply to be joined as a party to the adoption proceedings. If the father does not have a parental responsibility order or a parental responsibility agreement he still has some rights. He will be asked for his consent, however, if he cannot be found his consent is not needed. Or if he does not consent the court has the power to override his refusal and still make an adoption order. Any consent to adoption by a parent, guardian, special guardian, or a previous adoptive parent must be given in writing on a specially prescribed form.
Can adoption orders be revoked?
Once made, adoption orders are final and cannot be revoked. However, a further adoption order can be made to remove parental responsibility from the adoptive parents. There is one exception when it is possible to revoke an adoption order and this is where a child is adopted by one natural parent as the sole adoptive parent and then the child is legitimised by the marriage of his/her natural parents. Either parent can then apply to revoke the adoption order.


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