After the assessment process, children are matched to prospective adopters and the exciting, but often daunting introductions are made. Once children are placed in the care of an adopter, the new family needs to apply for an adoption order. This is usually done through the Family Court. The children must have been living at their placement for at least ten weeks before an application to the court can be made. Once the adoption order has been granted, placement becomes permanent. The child, or children will then have the same legal rights as if they were your own offspring, such as inheritance.
If you want to adopt children within the family, such as a stepchild, we also offer advice and support on that process. After reviewing your individual circumstances we will provide expert advice on the merit of any application, or make you aware of possible alternative options should the need arise.
If there is merit for the application, then the first step is providing three months’ notice to the local authority and engaging with them whilst they undertake a comprehensive assessment to help the court with any application made after this time. Subject to the outcome of the assessment, a formal application can then be made to the Court. Normally, there is a first directions hearing where any issues can be considered. The matter will then ordinarily be timetabled for a final hearing. Subject to everything going well, the Court can make the order and provide the adoption certificate. If the adoption is granted, this again gives the adopter legal rights and will cancel out any other legal orders.
However this is not always a feasible route to take, especially if there is another parent with parental responsibility who may object. If you are thinking of adopting a stepchild or child of the family, seek legal advice to review your individual circumstances.