In order to be adopted, a child must:
- be under the age of 18 when the adoption application is made;
- not be (or have ever been) married or in a civil partnership.
- The child’s birth parents
Normally, both birth parents have to agree (consent) to the adoption, unless:
- They cannot be found
- They are incapable of giving consent – e.g. due to a mental disability
- The child would be put at risk if they were not adopted
- Who can adopt a child?
You may be able to adopt a child if you are aged 21 or over (there is no upper age limit) and are either:
- in a civil partnership;
- an unmarried couple (same sex and opposite sex);
- the partner of the child’s parent.
- There are different rules for private adoptions and adoptions of looked-after children.
Do I have to live in the UK to adopt a child?
You do not need to be a British citizen to adopt a child, but:
- At least one of you must have a fixed and permanent home in the UK (or the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man);
- Both of you must have lived in the UK for at least one year before you begin the application process.
Early stages of adoption
To adopt a child you can go through either:
- The adoption agency that is part of your local council
- A voluntary adoption agency
The adoption process
The basic process is as follows:
- You contact an adoption agency – it will send you information about the adoption process.
- The agency arranges to meet you – you may also be invited to a meeting with other people wanting to adopt a child.
- If you and the agency agree to carry on, the agency will give you an application form.
- The time it takes to adopt can vary – but it normally takes at least 8 months.
Adopting a stepchild
If you want to adopt your spouse’s or partner’s child, you need to tell your local council. You must do this at least 3 months before applying to a court