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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
This week is Alternative Family Week - a week dedicated to raising awareness about modern families and giving advice to everyone who would love to be parents. Here is our legal guide to becoming a parent through adoption.
In order to adopt a child in the UK, both birth parents must consent unless they cannot be located, are incapable of consenting or the child would be placed at risk of harm if they were not adopted.
You can adopt a child if you are aged 21 and over and there is no upper age limit. Single people, married couples, civil partners, unmarried couples (same sex and opposite sex) and the partner of a child’s parent are all eligible.
You do not have to be a British citizen, you or your partner must have a permanent home in the UK and have lived in the UK for at least one year before applying.
You will need to contact an Adoption Agency who will interview you and consider whether you are suitable candidates. You will then go through a rigorous assessment process consisting of preparation classes, social worker visits, police checks, full medical examination and you will need three referees. If you pass, then your application will go before an adoption panel for final approval. You will then be matched with a child.
Ten weeks after your child has been living with you, you can apply to the Court for an Adoption Order. This makes the adoption permanent with an adoption certificate which replaces the child’s original birth certificate. The order removes parental responsibility from the child’s birth parents and gives it to you, which means you are the child’s legal parents.
Adopting a child from abroad should not be seen as an easier option than a UK adoption. The law is complex and there are as many, if not more, stages to go through.
To adopt a child abroad you must take similar steps to those you would take if you were adopting within the UK. You must tell your local authority that you are looking to adopt from an international adoption agency; a home study report will then be carried out and then an adoption panel will decide whether or not you are suitable.
All the above takes place before the authorities in the country in which you are looking to adopt become involved. It is a strict process. If you do not follow the specific rules, you could be committing a criminal offence.
If you are thinking about adopting come and visit us at this year's Alternative Parenting Show at the Royal College of Surgeons, London WC2A 3PE from 10am-5pm on Saturday 24 September 2016 or get in touch with Kim Lehal on 01295661551 or 07972621070.