Adoption law advice

Get advice about adoption law, and the adoption process in the UK, from specialist adoption and child law solicitors.

Lorna Chapman, Cambridge

What is adoption?

Adoption is the legal process through which parental responsibility for a child is transferred to an adoptive parent. The adoptive parents take on all parental rights and responsibilities for the child, such as where they live, the schools they attend and medical matters. When a child is adopted, the biological parents give up their parental responsibility for the child.

Types of adoption include:

  • Domestic adoption or kinship adoption: where a child is adopted by a family member (such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle), or by the local authority
  • International adoption: where a child is adopted from a country outside of the UK, by adoptive parents who live in the UK
  • Step-parent adoption: where a child is adopted by a step-parent, granting the step-parent legal parental responsibility
  • Foster parent adoption: where a child is adopted by foster parents.

How does the adoption process work?

There are two routes to adopting a child within the UK:

  • Through an adoption agency via your local council
  • Through a voluntary adoption agency.

The first step in the adoption process is to contact the adoption agency and provide them with any information they require. Next, the agency will arrange to meet you to assess your suitability. If you are successful at this stage, and want to move forward, the agency will send you an application form.

Who can adopt a child?

You may be eligible to adopt a child if you:

  • Are over the age of 21
  • Have lived in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man for at least 12 months
  • Meet the local authority’s selection criteria. 

You need to prove that you can meet the needs of the child. There's no universal set of adoption requirements, but there are steps prospective adoptive parents can take to demonstrate your suitability. Our expert adoption law solicitors will work closely with you to give you the best chance of success.

Relative or stepchild adoption

Many people ask for advice about adopting a child that is already a part of the extended family or is the child of a new partner. 

Taking the step to adopt a child in these circumstances often gives rise to other concerns.  A specialist adoption solicitor can advise you regarding the process and implications, as it’s particularly difficult where there is an absent parent who has left the home, and even more so if they are still active in the child’s life – for example weekend visits. The adoption process has the effect of extinguishing the rights as a parent of the absent parent and this, of course, can make the situation very challenging.  As with all child-related issues, the overriding concern is for the child’s best interests.

Is adoption right for me?

Our specialists can also advise on legal alternatives to adoption. For example, it's sometimes enough for a step-parent or prospective adopter to use family law to take on parental responsibility, or to secure a special guardianship order or residence order.

Legal help with adoption

If you need advice about your legal rights and the adoption process, our expert adoption law solicitors can help. In every case we offer a tailored and thorough service that will ensure your adoption will be as swift and smooth as possible.

What to do next

If you need legal advice about adoption, or a related issue, give call us. A dedicated family law solicitor will outline your options and tell you how we can help.

Come in and see us for a FREE 30 minute face-to-face consultation about your options. Alternatively, if you want us to take a closer look at your situation, for a fixed fee of £150 + VAT, we can talk with you for up to 90 minutes.

Call our Family and Divorce Law solicitors on 0800 0131165

For a free initial chat, at no obligation, or fill out our enquiry form and a solicitor will get in touch.

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