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The adoption process and the law

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Adoption is a legal procedure whereby all parental rights and responsibilities for the child/children are permanently transferred from the birth parents or local authority, to the adoptive parents, by the Court. It is illegal in the UK to adopt a child without first being assessed and approved by a UK adoption agency (unless the child is a close relative).

Prospective parents have found this to be a lengthy process – in some cases taking up to two and a half years, and earlier this year David Cameron pledged to change the law and speed up the adoption process. The Government have said that new born babies being taken into care should be fostered by people who want to adopt them and that it is ‘shocking’ that new babies taken into care have to wait fifteen months to be adopted.

Heidi Cardoza, Family Solicitor, says “The local authority caring for a child that has been removed from its’ birth parents, must apply for a placement order from the court to allow the adoption to proceed, unless the birth parents have agreed to their child being adopted.”

An adoption order cannot be applied for until a child has lived with his/her adoptive parents continuously for at least ten weeks. The order is granted by the court around nine to twelve months after the child moves in. These time limits are for children placed for adoption by agencies and not for long term foster carers who later decide to apply to adopt the child they are caring for.

Once the Court has granted the adoption order the adoptive parents are legally responsible for the child – they are the child’s legal parents and make all decisions about the child’s welfare and upbringing. Adoption is permanent and a new birth certificate is issued from the Adopted Children Register in the child’s new name.

For a free initial meeting please call 01202 499255 and a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions you may have.

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