What is adoption?
Adoption is the process by which a person is able to assume the parental responsibility for a child who is not his or her own. Through the adoption process, all the rights and responsibilities of the original parents are passed on to the person adopting. This is different from that of a guardian because adoption includes a relatively permanent change in the status of the child.
Who are eligible to apply for adoption?
Since the passing of the Adoption and Children Act of 2002, the following may apply to adopt:
- Single unmarried persons
- A married couple applying together
- A couple who are unmarried, applying together
- The step-parent of the child, as long as the child has been staying with them for a period of six months or more prior to the filing of the application.
- Those providing foster care, as long as the child has been with them for 12 months or more prior to the filing of the application.
- Lesbian couples
- Gay couples
- And other persons not falling under those mentioned above. These can include the partner of one of the child’s parents or other relatives of the child.
There is also a further requirement that in order for a married or unmarried couple to be considered as adoptive parents, they must provide proof that their relationship is stable and will stand the test of time. They must demonstrate their ability to create a family environment that is defined by love.
Are there requirements about age and citizenship?
Yes there are specific requirements about the citizenship and these include requirements regarding citizenship and age.
The applicant is required to be a resident of the UK. By this the applicant can be in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. In the case of joint applications, only one of the applicants needs to be a resident in the above mentioned areas.
There is also a requirement regarding age. For joint applicants, at least one must be aged 21 and the other no less than 18. For a single applicant, the age must be 21.
All of these requirements hold regardless of the nature of the person filing for adoption.
What are the requirements as far as the age of the child is concerned?
The child must be under the age of 21 and never married.
What are the documentary requirements for adoption orders?
When applying for an adoption order, the agency concerned would request the child’s original birth certificate or an adoption certificate if previously adopted. They would also ask for either a document that indicates parental consent or the placement order. The marriage certificate of the applicants may likewise be requested as well as the report of the adoption agency if this is applicable. And finally they will also request a medical report for the child and each of the applicants where applicable.
What are placement orders?
Placement orders are orders that authorise local authorities to put up a child for adoption in the absence of parental consent or where parental consent is deemed by the concerned agencies to be unnecessary. This is in contrast to situations where consent is freely given and may be withdrawn at a later time.
When is parental consent unnecessary?
Parental consent is considered unnecessary in several cases. One case is where the parents cannot be located. If the parent is mentally ill, parental consent will not be necessary either. And the other case which may be broader in scope is when the agencies concerned believe that the welfare of the child necessitates adoption and thereby outweighs the need for parental consent. At any given time, the welfare of the child will outweigh the rights of the parents. An example would be in the case of a drug dependent parent who may at some point have some mental stability to appear in court. Even if there is no evidence of mental illness, the personal circumstances of being a drug dependent and the harm it may present to the child, may result in the court putting the child up for adoption even without parental consent.
What factors do the courts consider in determining the welfare of the child during the adoption proceedings?
In all the proceedings, the child is never a faceless, emotionless entity whose fate is being decided by an unemotional court. This notion is very far from the true nature of the process. The court will consider the wishes and feelings of the child, taking into account of course the age and mental state. It would also evaluate the special needs of the child as far as education, physical needs and other considerations. It will also determine the effects and the extent thereof on the child once the child has ceased to be a part of the original family. The individual characteristics of the child will be taken into consideration as well as including such factors like age, background and sex. Other considerations that will be dealt with include harm or the risk of harm to the child in certain situations and with certain people. And last but not the least, the current relationship of the child to relatives, and the repercussions thereof as a result of the adoption will also be considered.
What are the specific laws regarding adoption?
The Adoption and Children Act of 2002 is the most pertinent repository of laws that have to do with adoption. This was essentially the updating of the woefully outdated 1976 Adoption Act. On November 7, 2002, the Adoption and Children Act of 2002 became a law and came into full effect on December 30 2005.
Implementation took place in stages with the first stage occurring in April of 2003. This was the portion of the Act that had to do with the duties of local officials. Adoptions taking place between different countries were the subject of the second stage which became official on June 1, 2003. Then on October 31, 2003, the stage then had to do with support services for adoption. Then on December 1, 2003, the changes to parental responsibility took effect. And finally, on December 30, 2005 the alterations to the children’s register took effect as well.