The first stage in this process is usually for the child to be placed with the prospective adoptive parents. This will either be with the consent of the parents, or by direction from the Children’s Hearing. The prospective adoptive parents then, either with the consent of the natural parents, or a request that their consent be dispensed with, petition the court to grant the order for adoption.
The effect of the adoption order is that that natural parents' parental rights and responsibilities are extinguished. The child becomes a legal member of the adopters' family. In some cases the court will order that the child maintain direct or indirect contact (through letters and photographs) with their natural parents.
Step-parents can also petition the court to formally adopt a child of their spouse - usually in circumstances where the child has no ongoing contact with their other natural parent. The result of such an adoption order is that the child will become the legal child of their step-parent, and the parental right and responsibilities of the absent parent are extinguished. It does not affect the parental rights and responsibilities of the parent the child lives with.
Prior to petitioning the court to adopt a step-child, a investigation is undertaken by the local authority as to the suitability of the proposed adoption. Following investigation, a report is complied, which report will inform the court as to whether the proposed adoption is approved by the local authority. Children over the age of 12 must provide their consent to the adoption. While there is no age limit for prospective adopters, the court will look at the person’s overall health and wellbeing. The court will only make an order when it is in the child’s best interests to do so. Adoption is an important step in any child’s future. Our solicitors will take you through each stage of the process.