Family Hands On Top Of Each OtherComprehensive background checks on the child and their family are carried out at the beginning of the adoption process. The same processes of checks are then conducted by the agency on the prospective adoptive parents. This focuses on the reasons behind their wish to adopt. The gathered information is sent on to the adoptive parent by the agency before being sent on to the adoption panel to allow them to comment on the report. Adoption panels assess the received information to establish whether they believe it is the child’s greatest interest for the adoption to go through. If successful, the prospective adoptive parents will be informed and the history and background of the child will be sent to them. Once adoption has gone through, and the child is living with their new family, the adoption agency visits the family to assess the child’s well-being, and to keep the adoption records up to date. Reasons must be supplied if the agency believes the new family situation is not right for the child. Once a decision has been made, the adoptive parents will have 28 days in which to challenge it.

Fostering children is a different process to the adoption of children and a different type of care. Unlike adoption, fostering children does not necessarily require full time care of the child.  Being a foster parent does not make you the legal parent of the child. Fostering offers a child a safe environment on a temporary basis. Often a child will return to their own families when the causes for them entering foster care are resolved. In other cases a child may stay in foster care in the long-term, resulting in adoption or the child moving on to live independently once old enough.

Adoption laws

UK adoption law works to transfer parental rights to eligible adoptive parents. These new parents are often couples or individuals who are unable to have their own children. The process of adoption allows children who currently lack parental care to be placed with new families who can assume this life-long care role. Every year there are near to 4000 children looking to be adopted by new families. Many of these children are of school age and are grouped with their siblings. 

Eligibility for adoption (UK)

The first condition for anyone wishing to adopt in the UK is that they are a UK, Channel Island or Isle of Man resident. All prospective adopters must also be over the age of 21. This is lowered to 18 in cases where one of the parties is a biological parent of the child. Importantly, the prospective adoptive parents must be able to provide a child with a stable and safe family environment throughout their life.

Adoption agencies

There are both state and privately run adoption agencies in the UK, both working to provide children lacking in parental care and in need of adoption with new stable families. The process of adoption is carried out by these agencies, and families looking to adopt children are helped through the adoption process by the agency. Even once an adoption has been followed through, adoption agencies keep adoption records to monitor the success of an adoption. They also provide the new family with the support needed after the adoption.

Placement orders

Placement Orders are processes ordered by the court whereby the local authority has to put a child currently in or going into care or a child without a parent or guardian up for adoption. The local authority legally becomes the child’s guardian once a Placement Order has been enforced. They remain so until a child is placed in a new home, then legal responsibility for the child is passed on to the adoptive parents.

In cases where the child in question has a parent or guardian, consent must be obtained from them for the child to be put up for adoption. In some circumstances the court finds that the consent of the parents or guardians should be ignored. This applies where it would be for the well-being of the child to ignore the need for parental consent.

Statutory adoption leave

Statutory adoption leave is a similar concept to maternity leave, and works similarly. However, there are some differences. You need to provide your employer with proof that you have a right to take Statutory Adoption Leave. Proof can be provided through an adoption agency certificate recognised within the UK. Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay is not applicable in a number of circumstances, including if:

  • You have arranged your adoption privately, without an agency
  • You have ‘special guardian’ status
  • Your adopted child is a stepchild
  • You have had a child through surrogacy

It is important to note that if the child you are adopting is from overseas different rules will apply.

Overseas adoption

One option for prospective adoptive parents is to adopt a child from abroad. Many believe they can offer a child a brighter future and better life in the UK. However, this is not always the case. It is often less detrimental to a child, and happier for them to be brought up within the culture and traditions they were born into. 

In some cases, adopting a child from overseas can be the best option for both the child and the adoptive parents. In these cases a set of procedures apply to the adoption process in compliance with the Adoption and Children Act 2002. These are as follows:

  • An application to the local authority and adoption agency for an assessment of their suitability for adoption must be made by the individuals wanting to adopt from overseas.
  • The local authority and adoption agency must then provide an adoption report in which the individuals’ application to be adoptive parents is approved. The adoption report includes a broad range of information about both the prospective adoptive parents, and the child they are wishing to adopt.
  • The application is then approved by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families. Once this has been done, a Certificate of Eligibility and Suitability is provided to the authorities from the country the child is being adopted from. This confirms that the adoptive parents have been approved as capable of providing the child with safe and life-long care, and that the child will be permitted to live in the UK permanently.
  • A report must then be written by the country in which the child is living on accepting that adoption is in the child’s best interest. It also provides information on the suitability of the child for adoption, giving a background of the child’s family and social situation and whether they have any special needs.

The child being adopted must be under the age of 18, be unmarried and be supported financially by the adoptive parents. Proof must also be provided by the applicants that the adoption was legal, and due to the inability of the birth parents to continue caring for the child rather than as an arrangement to allow the child permanent UK residence.

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