Adoption is when a couple who cannot, or decide not to have a child provide a new family for a child who cannot live with its own genetic parents. A local authority or adoption agency can only place a child for adoption if the birth parents have formally consented to placement, or the local authority have applied for a placement order.
Adoption orders still have the effect of permanently severing the ties between the child and its birth parents. The new parents take over the parental rights and the responsibility of the child. The child must be under 18 to be eligible for adoption.
Who can adopt?
If you are over 21 and can provide a permanent, stable home for a child, you can apply for adoption. You can apply if you are single, unmarried, disabled or out of work and it doesn’t matter what sex, race, religion or sexuality you are as long as you can provide a stable, loving home for a child to grow up in. You, your partner and your family and friends will be put through a series of checks and tests to assess your suitability for adoption.
There is no upper age limit, but agancies do look for adopters who have the mental energy to deal with demanding children and still have enough energy to deal with that child when they are a teenager and young adult. All adopters must go through a medical examination first.
Can I adopt my younger siblings?
If you are over 21 you can apply for adoption for any siblings under 18 if there are problems with your birth parents.
What about adopting children from other countries?
There is also a growing trend towards adopting children from other countries and it largely depends on which country you wish to adopt from. (The UK introduced a temporary suspension on adopting children from Cambodia in 2004).
If you have a particular country in mind that you wish to adopt from, it is best to check with the British Embassy based in that country for more information.
You can also register with an adoption agency or your social services department for more information. For more information on adoption contact the British Association for Adoption and Fostering at www.baaf.org.uk
How long does the adoption process usually take?
The adoption process, including the approval process usually takes about eight months once you have placed a call with your adoption agency. Once you have been approved for adoption, matching your with a suitable child from the UK can take from two weeks to two years and every case is different. Once the child is living with you, a court can make an adoption order after 13 weeks.
What is the assessment process?
An assessment is basically there to make sure that you, or you and your partner are suitable parents for a child. Typically you will be asked:
- Detailed questions about your family background
- You and your partner or any other members of your family may be interviewed
- You will have to supply two personal referees, decided by you
- It is likely that you will have to undergo a full medical examination and be questioned about your families' medical history
The adoption process can feel very intrusive as every part of your life is questioned and examined, but bear in mind that this process is essential in making sure that prospective adoptive parents are absolutely suitable to look after children.
Step parent or relative adoption
Sometimes step parents decide to adopt the children they have been looking after, from a previous relationship with a current partner. This means that the child's links with the absent birth parent will be severed and you will become joint or soley responsible for that child until they are eighteen years old. Once the adoption process has taken place and been approved the child can take your name if they wish.
How much does it cost to adopt?
Adoption is unlikely to cost very much because most services are free, however, there will be alot of form filling-in, waiting and preparation which will cost you time.
If you are planning to adopt from overseas the process can become costly, especially if you are required to travel to and from that country and also if a home study is required (where an individual from the country you wish to adopt from comes to your home and deems it suitable).
Support for adoptive families?
Since 31 Oct 2003 families who adopt have a right to ask their local authority to assess their needs for adoption support services, including financial support.
Local authorities will then consider this assessment and any service provided will be mapped out clearly to outline how the services are to be used.
- Madonna and Guy Ritchie adopted son David Banda from Malawi in 2006.
- Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt adopted children Maddox from Cambodia, Pax from Vietnam, and Zahara from Ethiopia.
- Meg Ryan adopted her daughter Daisy from China.