Adoption

Adoption is a long process, however, it needn’t be a complicated one. Our empathetic and professional family law solicitors can help guide you through the adoption process and assist you in making your application for an adoption order in court.

What is adoption?

Adoption is the formal legal process by which you can gain all of the parental rights and responsibilities in relation to a child. Where you are granted an adoption order, you will become the child’s legal parent. After you have adopted a child, the child’s biological parents will no longer have any rights or responsibilities in relation to the child and the adoption court order cannot be reversed, except for in very rare circumstances.

Adoption differs from fostering as fostering is not always meant to be a permanent arrangement, whereas adoption generally is permanent.

Am I eligible to adopt a child?

In order to adopt a child there are certain criteria that must be met:

  • You must be at least 21 years of age, however there is no upper limit.
  • Where you are a couple and one of you is a parent, the parent must be at least 18 and the adopter 21 years of age.
  • You can apply to adopt a child as a couple or as a single person. Married couples, civil partners and couples living together in an ‘enduring relationship’, including same-sex couples may adopt. However, two friends, or siblings, for example, may not apply to adopt together.
  • There is no set amount of time you must have been in a relationship to adopt. However, adoption agencies will look for couples with a stable relationship.
  • You may apply to adopt if you already have children of your own, and this is often welcomed by agencies in certain circumstances.
  • You may still adopt a child if you have past convictions. However, the adoption agencies will carefully investigate your circumstances. You will not be able to adopt however where you have been convicted of an offence involving children.
  • You do not need to be employed or have a certain income level to adopt a child. . However, the adoption agency must be convinced that you will be able to support a child on your income.
  • When you make an application to become an adopter, a comprehensive health report must be completed. You will not need to pay for this medical assessment unless you are adopting a child from overseas. If you suffer from serious ill health, it is unlikely you will be able to accept as an adopter.
  • Adoption agencies take into account children’s racial, cultural and linguistic background, but there is no legal requirement for children to be placed with parents of the same race.

Adoption Process, Scotland

There are two means of arranging an adoption; through an agency, or where you already know the child, for example, a close relative.

If you chose to adopt a child without involving an adoption agency, you must inform your local authority that you wish to adopt the child. The local authority will then investigate your situation and prepare a report for the court who will decide whether to grant the adoption.

If you choose to adopt through an agency, you can go through the adoption agency provided by your local authority, or any other registered adoption agency in your area.  The agency must ensure that those who choose to adopt meet certain legal requirements. The adoption agency must also publish their criteria for making the decision to accept you.

After you have made your initial application, the agency will assess whether you are suitable to be an adoptive parent. After this assessment, your application will be referred to the agency adoption panel for a recommendation. The assessment normally takes around six to eight months.

What if my application is rejected?

If you are not approved as an adopter, there are certain steps you can take to have the decision overturned. You may also apply through another adoption agency, however, you are obliged to tell them about your first application.

What happens after my application is approved?

After your application has been approved, unless you have applied for a specific child it may take some time to match you with a suitable child. After approval, your details will be transferred to the national adoption register. This contains details of all children in Scotland waiting to be adopted and each local authority can use your application to find a match for you. After the agency has found a potential match, you will meet with your social worker to find out more about the child and then the adoption agency and social worker will decide whether to match the child to you.

How is an adoption formalised?

In order to obtain a formal adoption order, you must make an application to the court. You must do this for all kinds of adoption.

In order for an adoption order to be granted, the child must have lived with you for at least 13 weeks, and the child must be at least 19 weeks old. The court's main consideration when making the decision to grant an adoption order will be the child’s welfare. The court is obliged to apply a strict set of principles when making its decision and will  consider the various reports ancillary to your application. The courts must decide it is better for the child to make an adoption order than to not make an adoption order.  If the child is aged 12 or older, the consent of the child is also required.  Where an adoption order is granted you will receive full legal responsibilities and rights for the child and the legal rights of the birth family will end.

Adoption & Family Lawyers Paisley & Glasgow, Scotland

If you need help with a family law matter, call us on 0141 887 5181 for our Paisley branch or 0141 551 8185 for our Glasgow branch or click here to get in touch. Our family lawyers are based in Paisley and Glasgow and have helped thousands of clients just like you.

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