To speak to London based adoption solicitors about a UK or international adoption call 0203 959 9123 for a discussion about how OTS Solicitors can best help you secure an adoption order or assist you with the legal and immigration complexities of an international adoption. Telephone 0203 959 9123 or contact us through our online enquiry form.
UK adoption eligibility criteria
A single or a joint application can be made to adopt a child. If you are a joint applicant then you must either be married, in a civil partnership or living together with a partner in an enduring relationship.
To be eligible to adopt you must also:
Be over the age of twenty one; and
Have not been convicted of any specific offences against children or sexual offences; and
Be habitually resident in the UK or domiciled in the UK.
UK adoption assessment
If you meet the eligibility criteria to apply to adopt then your suitability as an adoptive parent will need to be assessed by either a local authority adoption agency, voluntary adoption agency or independent social worker.
The assessment will look at yours and your partner’s age, health, family including any existing children you have, the family support network, financial circumstances, your religion, culture and ethnic background. An adoption assessment can feel intrusive but it is a vital part of the adoption process. It is designed to ensure that an adoption is a success for both adoptive parent and child.
After the assessment has taken place then you will need to be approved as prospective adopters by an adoption panel and thereafter matched to a child.
UK adoption order process
After a child has been placed with you for the minimum period you can apply for an adoption order. A family court will look at:
Whether the biological parent of the child consents to adoption and ,if not, if they are unreasonably withholding their consent to the adoption order ; and
Whether anyone else with parental responsibility for the child consents to the adoption and ,if not, if they are unreasonably withholding their consent; and
Whether the adoption order is in the child's best interests.
Effect of an adoption order
If an adoption order is made by the court the child becomes your legal child. The legal status of the child’s parent/s is extinguished. The adoption order will last for the life of the child and will not end when the child is eighteen or twenty one.
Other effects of an adoption order include:
Your adopted child is classed as your legal child and therefore he or she has the same inheritance rights as a biological child. That means that you may want to think about estate planning and a Will; and
You are financially responsible for an adopted child. That means if you separate from the adopted child’s parent you could be assessed as liable to pay child support by the child maintenance service or family court; and
If you are a British citizen then the likelihood is that the child will acquire British citizenship by virtue of the UK adoption order.
To provide evidence of the adoption order, the general register office issues an adoption certificate for the child. This certificate replaces his or her birth certificate and names you as the adoptive parent/s.
It used to be common practice for a parent to adopt a relative if a child came to live with them so that they were all “one family” with the same surname. Examples of relative adoption includes adopting a child after a family bereavement or because of a biological parent’s illness or inability to cope with the demands of parenting.
Adoption is nowadays thought of as a draconian order as it extinguishes the biological parent’s legal rights and their parental responsibility for the child. Therefore the court encourages alternatives to adoption orders, such as a child arrangements order or special guardianship order.
International adoption is a complex area of law. It is therefore recommended that you take specialist adoption and family law advice in conjunction with British nationality and immigration law advice to best secure your legal status to the child and the child’s eligibility to enter the UK.
Some overseas adoption orders are recognised by UK courts. For example, an overseas adoption order will be automatically recognised in the UK if the adoption order was made in a country that is a member of The Hague Convention provided that you have complied with the overseas adoption regulations.
If an international adoption order is not recognised by a UK court then you need to apply to the UK court to have the adoption order recognised.
International adoption and British nationality
If you decide to adopt from overseas then your child may not necessarily automatically acquire British citizenship or be eligible for a British passport. That is why it is best to get joined up family and immigration law advice from specialist international adoption solicitors so that they can secure any necessary UK family orders and make any Home Office applications to ensure your child obtains British nationality.
The children and family law team at OTS Solicitors work closely with the personal immigration law team to best ensure that your adoption process goes as swiftly and as smoothly as possible.