Who can adopt?

People seek to adopt for many reasons and as long as the Applicant is aged over 21 years and can provide a permanent stable home, there is no upper age limit.

It does not matter whether you are single, living with someone, married and/or in a same sex relationship, the stability of any relationship you are in is the only concern. The prospective adopter, plus all adult members of the household, will also need to undergo a police check.

As long as you will  be able to meet the child’s needs through to an age that they could reasonably become independent, your financial status is also of little importance.  The main criteria is that you will be able to provide a stable and loving home.

Step-parent adoption

It also possible to adopt if you are a step-parent, but this is now fairly unusual and again there are a number of issues you need to be aware of.

Who can be adopted?

You can only adopt a child, under he age of 18 years, who has not been married or in a civil partnership.

Inter-country / international adoption

Although there are children in the UK waiting to be adopted, it is still possible to adopt a child from overseas, in which case there are further rules and regulations we can advise on.

Inter-country adoption will be permitted where the child cannot be cared for in a safe environment in their own country, where it would be in the best interests of the child and wouldn’t affect their human rights.  All prospective adoptive parents must still be assessed as suitable by an adoption agency in the UK.

Legal Advice

To discuss any of these issues in more detail, please contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey on 020 7993 2936 or to complete a contact form click here.

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We tackle some of the common myths about Adoption in this country and share some lesser known facts that might help you to start your life-changing adoption journey.

Myth: You have to be a ‘traditional’ family unit to adopt

Anyone over the age of 21 can be considered as an adopter. You can be single, married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner.  The stability and permanency of any relationship you are in is the only concern. The main criteria for all local authorities is simply that you are able to provide a stable and loving home.

Myth: You cannot adopt if you are older than 40

There is no upper age limit, but you will need to have the health and energy to see your children through to an age that they could reasonably become independent.

Myth: You have to adopt through your local authority

You can and should “shop around” for the organisation that you feel most comfortable with. We recommend that you do your research and consider speaking to a number of organisations before making a decision. You will need to be really open about your life, so it helps to have a good relationship with the team that is supporting you. You can find a list of local and regional agencies on First4Adoption, which is run by the government, or the charity Adoption UK website.

Myth: The social worker is against you

You will be assigned a social worker to prepare and assess you for the task ahead. The social worker is on your side. They want to find adopters. They will need to speak to you about some very personal matters including your finances, who you are as individuals, what your interests are and your past relationships. Some people view this with suspicion. Be assured that they are not trying to trip you up, they need to know you properly to prepare you properly, so try to embrace this process and be honest. Remember, it is the social worker who will represent you at the Adoption Panel, to do this well they need to know you well.

Myth: You need to be perfect

Nobody expects you to be perfect, very few people are, so be honest. Your skeletons will come out of the closet but, unless you have been convicted of certain serious criminal offences, it is unlikely that they will sabotage you.  The key is to be completely honest.

Fact: You need to be resilient

Adoption is a life-long journey filled with emotion, so resilience is key. One of the things the social worker will be most interested in is how you work through your problems and how you will make your family resilient.

Fact: The Adoption Panel is unlikely to turn you down

It is natural to feel nervous before your Adoption Panel meeting, but if you have got to this stage the chances of getting turned down are low. Remember you have the support of the social worker, they would have told you by now if they did not think you were ready to adopt. If you are turned down, it is not the end of the road as you can appeal, or you could apply again at a later date.

Fact: You will get matched quicker with priority children

The majority of people want to adopt a “healthy baby”, but there are relatively few babies waiting for adoption. Most adopted children will come to their families as toddlers, pre-schoolers or primary children. Older children, those with additional needs, groups of brothers and sisters who need to stay together and children from minority backgrounds are considered to be priority children as they will usually wait longer to find a permanent home. These children have often experienced violence, abuse or neglect and are in great need of a loving and supportive home.

Fact: You are in control

When you are matched with a child, or children, it is important to remember that you do not have to say yes. It is ok to say no. If you have doubts you are having them for a reason, so share them with your social worker. It is not always an easy decision, but in the long run it can be better to wait for another match than to move forward if it does not feel right.

Fact: You will receive ongoing support

Adoption is a challenging journey, arguably more challenging than biological parenthood. Although your love can help a child to heal, it cannot erase the scars of their past. They may struggle and you may struggle, it is completely natural. You will not be expected to go it alone, you will have access to ongoing specialist support.

Fact: You will change more than one life

A charity leader was quoted as saying that adopted children are among the most “complex and vulnerable in society” and that “adoption can have a transformative effect on these children.”  This is because children do better when they feel safe and loved. With adoption, it is not just the children’s lives that are transformed. In exchange for the gifts of love and stability, you receive the life-changing gift of parenthood.

Legal Advice

If you are considering Adoption and would like more information on the legal aspects of the process, please contact Louise Allard or Sabrina Bailey or call 020 7993 2936 to arrange a no-obligation consultation.

(Note, this blog was first published in October 2019 and was updated in October 2022.)

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It is important to note that the normal criteria for applying for a Parental Order still applies, with the added caveat that the intended parent must have a genetic link to the child. Therefore, this change only assists single parents who use their own eggs or sperm.

It is still a welcome development.

People have been campaigning for years for a variation to UK surrogacy law as it was seen to be discriminatory to single parents. The change was finally approved in December 2018 and came into force on 3 January 2019.

Legal Advice

If you would like to speak confidentially to our team of specialist surrogacy lawyers you can call 020 7993 2936 to schedule an appointment or make a Contact Request here.

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At Allard Bailey, we recognise that adoption and surrogacy are not just legal processes but deeply personal journeys, often following exhaustive conception attempts, or failed IVF. Our specialist solicitors can sensitively guide and advise you on the right legal framework to achieve the rights to protect you and your child. We appreciate that more than ever, in the run up to Christmas and New Year thoughts inevitably turn to family life and plans and hopes for the future.

In the words of Lady Justice King (as was) there are “serious legal and practical difficulties which can arise where men or women, desperate for a child of their own, enter into informal surrogacy arrangements, often in the absence of any counselling or any specialist legal advice.”

If you or anyone you know are considering adoption or surrogacy or you are an intended parent it is critical to get early advice, and here are some reasons why:

To apply for an adoption order or a parental order: Both orders have “transformative effect” including extinguishing a surrogate parent’s rights.

To be aware of the timeframe: The law requires an application for a parental order in a surrogacy arrangement to be made within 6 months of a child’s birth and UK domicile. We can guide you on some of the permitted extensions under the case law.

If you are single: At the time of writing this blog, it was not possible for a single person to obtain a parental order in UK, but the law changed on 3rd January 2019 and it is now possible.  You can read more here.

Legal Advice

If you would like to speak confidentially to our team of surrogacy lawyers and adoption lawyers, you can call 020 7993 2936 to schedule a no-obligation consultation or make a Contact Request here

Alternatively, you can Get Started Online to receive a Free Confidential Report outlining your position.

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