Adoption law

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

Caroline Andrews, Brentwood

Adoption solicitors: Expert legal advice

Our specialist family lawyers can help with all types of adoption including:

  • Domestic adoption or kinship adoption - a child is adopted by a family member or by the local authority
  • International adoption - a child is adopted from a country outside of the UK, by adoptive parents who live in the UK
  • Foster parent adoption - a child is adopted by foster parents.
  • Private family adoption - a child is adopted by a step-parent, granting the step-parent legal parental responsibility

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. 

We can advise you regarding the implications of this step which often gives rise to other concerns. 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.

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Legal alternatives to adoption

There are alternatives to adopting and we can help you explore those. 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.

We’re here to help

If you want a lawyer to take a closer look at your situation,  our family and divorce lawyers are based in:

  • Cambridgeshire: Cambridge
  • Essex: Brentwood, Chelmsford and Saffron Walden
  • Hertfordshire: Bishop's Stortford and Royston

But we can help you wherever you are in England and Wales.

Call our specialist solicitors on 0808 231 1320

Adoption law FAQs

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.

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.

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