Child Adoption in the UK in 2022: everything you need to know

8 December 2022 by Robin - 11 minutes of reading time

child adoption

What is child adoption in the UK? Am I eligible for it? Can go through child adoption for a child that lives in another country? You may want to have a child, in which case you could adopt one. Indeed, this can be for a child in the UK or overseas. Your Benefits will tell you everything you need to know about child adoption.

Am I eligible for child adoption?

In order to adopt a child, you must first be over 21 years old. Then, you need to be one of the following:

  • The child’s parent’s partner;
  • A couple that did not marry yet;
  • In a civil partnership;
  • Single;
  • Married.

To adopt a child in the UK, a couple of things need to be true. Indeed, the child needs to be younger than 18 years old at the time of the adoption. Additionally, they must not have been or be in a civil partnership or married.

The birth parents of the child typically need to give their consent. However, this is not if certain things are true. First, if the child is at risk if they are not adopted. Second, if the parents are unable to give their consent. Third, if the birth parent’s whereabouts are unknown.

 Non-british citizens can adopt children as well. However, either them or their partner needs to have a permanent and fixed home either in the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, or the UK. Furthermore, prior to applying, you and your partner needs to have lived in the UK for at least a year.

Lastly, you could be able to benefit from the Adoption Support Fund. Indeed, you can ask your Social Worker in order to apply. This can help in covering the costs of therapy, for example, to better your relationships.

The adoption process may be harrowing. To lighten the load on adoptive families, birth families and adoptive parents, contact your local authority. They should be able to help.

How to adopt a child in the UK?

How to adopt a child in the UK?

You have 2 options to adopt a child in the UK. First, if your local council has one, you can go through an adoption agency. Second, you may also use a voluntary adoption agency.

Typically, the whole process takes up to 6 months to complete. Once you are approved, you will be able to go ahead with a child adoption, and you will be matched.

Then, there are a number of steps to adopt a child. Indeed, they are as follows:

  1. Notify an adoption agency. They will be able to provide you information on the steps to take;
  2. They will then arrange a meeting. This can include other additional people who could want to do a child adoption as well;
  3. If both you and the agency agree to continue further, you will be provided an application form.

What is a child adoption assessment?

There are several steps linked with an adoption assessment. Indeed, this happens prior to the agency receiving your application to be eligible for child adoption. The steps are as follows, they will:

  1. Ask you to attend preparation classes. These are meant to teach you everything that adoption entails, as well as give you tips and advice.
  2.  Organize social worker visits. The social worker will do an assessment to see if you can partake in child adoption. They will visit you several times;
  3. Organize a police check. If you or someone in your family committed a serious crime (like against a child), you will not be eligible for child adoption;
  4. Require that you provide the name for 3 referees. Indeed, these are people who can speak on you being a good fit. Note that only 1 may be a family member.
  5. Organize a medical examination.

The social worker will do an assessment. Then, they will give the assessment report to a certain group: an independent adoption panel. These people know a lot about adoptions.

The independent adoption panel will give their recommendation on your case to the adoption agency. This will be based on your assessment. The panel may have questions for you, and you will be able to answer them. You can also ask them questions.

Then, the adoption panel will send the adoption agency their recommendation. Ultimately, it’s up to the adoption agency to choose if you are compatible with child adoption.

What happens after I receive the decision on child adoption?

You may be found to be suitable with child adoption. Then, the matching process will start. In fact, everything will be explained to you by the agency. You will know how to proceed as well as what you can do. 

You may live in Wales. Then, you could make use of the National Adoption Service for Wales. There, you will be able to find information on many children who are up for adoption in Wales.

However, the agency may choose that you are not suitable for adoption. In this case, you have a couple of options. First, you can write to them in order to contest the decision. Second, you could ask for a review from the Independent Review Mechanism. Then, your case will be looked at by them.

If you are rejected by one agency, you can always apply to other adoption agencies to adopt a child. However, note that if you do this, the entire assessment process will start all over again.

Also note that you may claim benefits like Child Benefit as soon as the adopted child comes to live with you. Indeed, you may receive the following with Child Benefit:

Child Benefit rates in 2022
Who payments will be received for Weekly rate
Either the older or only child £21.15
Additional children £14 (this amount is per additional individual children)

How can I make a child adoption legal in the UK?

How can I make a child adoption legal in the UK?

In for an adoption to be legal in the UK, you need to acquire a court order. Indeed, then, you will be able to acquire parental rights and responsibilities. Indeed, then, you will be able to care for the child in question. Prior to applying for a court order, the child in question needs to have lived with you for a minimum of 10 weeks.

You will need to apply for a court order at a Family Court. To do so, you will need to complete and send an adoption order – Form A58 to the court. 

You may have been able to acquire a court order for a child adoption. If that is the case, a couple of things will then be true. Mainly:

  • You will not receive a copy of the adoption certificate, but you will be able to buy one;
  • The child will then have the rights that your birth child would have (like inheritance);
  • The adoption is not temporary, and is now permanent.

Once you acquire the court order, you will have parental responsibility towards the child. Indeed, this means that the birth parents or any other individual responsible for the child who may have had them, no longer will. 

How do I get an adoption certificate?

You may have been able to adopt a child. Then, an adoption certificate will be made by the General Register Office. Indeed, this will replace the child’s original birth certificate. Additionally, this new document will indicate their new name.

Although this document will be created for you, you will not automatically receive a copy. In order to get this, you must buy it. Indeed, to receive a copy of the ‘full’ adoption certificate, the cost is £11.

You can order an adoption certificate either by post or online. Indeed, if you want to do it by post, you will need to complete an adoption certificate application form. Then, the address to send it to is indicated on the form. You can also order one from online on the Gov.UK website.

How can I adopt my stepchild?

Your partner or spouse may have a child who you want to adopt. Then, you must let your local council know. Indeed, do this a minimum of 3 months prior to getting an adoption order from the court.

In order to adopt a stepchild, they must have been living with you and your partner for a minimum of 6 months.

In order to adopt a stepchild, you need to go through a process that resembles the one for the adoption assessment. Instead of being sent to an independent adoption panel, the assessment will be sent to a court. Indeed, the court will require information on the child, your partner, and the other birth parent.

Like an adoption assessment, this will be done by a social worker. Additionally, it is the information that the court will use to decide if you are eligible or not. 

Then, the court may decide to allow you to adopt your stepchild. In this case, you and your partner or spouse will be granted parental responsibilities. Additionally, this will mean the parental responsibilities of the birth parents (or anyone else) will be null. Furthermore, this will cancel any other court order.

How can I do a child adoption from overseas?

A number of things need to be true for you to adopt a child from abroad. This can be done if staying in their own country presents a danger to the child. Additionally, the adoption needs to be beneficial for the child. Lastly, the person adopting has to qualify for adoption from overseas. This can be done via an adoption agency.

Who you need to contact for this depends on where you live. If it is Northern Ireland, you can contact your local health and social care trust. If you live in Wales or England, you can contact your local council. Otherwise, you can contact a voluntary adoption agency.

This process is similar to a regular UK child adoption.

You may be found to be able to adopt from abroad. Then, there are a number of steps you could take in order to adopt from abroad:

  1. The Department for Education (DfE) or other UK Central Authority will receive your application. They will review it;
  2. The UK Central Authority or Department for Education (DfE) will make a Certificate of Eligibility to Adopt. Then, both this and your adoption application will be sent out to the appropriate authorities abroad;
  3. Then, you may be matched with a child. You will have to come see them in their country. Then, in writing, indicate you’ve done so and would wish to adopt them;
  4. Go through the legal proceedings (that may take place both in the UK and other country) and adoption court so everything is in order;
  5. Then, you will need to make sure that the entry clearance of the child is all good, for them to be able to come into the UK.
The fee for the Department for Education for this is £1,975.

Can I adopt a child from any country?

You may not adopt a child from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nepal, Guatemala or Cambodia. These are the restricted countries. However, you may still adopt a child from these countries. 

To do this, you need to have an exceptional reason. For example, you are adopting a child in your family. Furthermore, evidence will need to be included. Use the form ‘exception requests: adoptions from countries with special restrictions‘.

If you typically reside in another country, you will need to follow the laws relevant to that country. If you typically reside in the UK, you will have to follow UK law. This is also the case if you have ‘habitual residence’ in the UK but live abroad currently. 

What are the rights of the birth parents of an adopted child?

Typically, the adoption of your birth child by another couple needs you to agree to it. Indeed, this is because you will lose parental responsibility once that is the case. Typically, however, you will be able to continue keeping in touch with the child.

You may be the father of the child. Then, if you also have parental responsibility, typically, you will have to agree to the adoption for it to take place. If you don’t want the adoption to go through, you will typically be able to explain why to the court. 

If you do not want the adoption to take place, a social worker will comes speak with you. Then, you will be able to give your reasons as to why you think so. 

Also note that a child may be adopted without your consent. This is the case if it is believed that the child not being adopted would present a danger to them. Additionally, consent is not required if you are unable to give consent.

Robin is a writer for Your Benefits, writing about aids that people may be entitled to. He is currently working on his Master in journalism at the Institut Supérieur de Formation au Journalisme in Lille.

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