An Adoption Order is a draconian Court Order because it irreversibly removes parental responsibility from a child’s birth parents.
We have many years’ experience of representing adopters, parents and children in the adoption process. We understand the need for sensitivity, whatever the circumstances.
We understand that adoption is not always an easy option and that particularly for the adopters of an older or disabled child it is crucial to ensure that all necessary services are in place. Sometimes this requires skilful negotiation. We are well placed to do this.
We also know that, sadly, adoption does not always work. We have represented adoptive parents and children in proceedings following on from adoption breakdown.
For a birth parent it is often legally very difficult to contest the making of an Adoption Order, although if you are in that position you may feel strongly that you owe it to your child and yourself to try, or at least be able to remain in contact. We can advise you about the strength of you case and how it can be put most effectively.
Whatever your situation and circumstances, we can help you make sense of the process of adoption whilst acknowledging that it will always be an emotional journey.
- How long does it take to adopt?
- It depends where you start from. If you are adopting a child through an Adoption Agency, you will need to go through a rigorous assessment and approval process, before finally being “matched with a child”. It is best to discuss the timescales for this part with your Adoption Agency. Once a child has been placed with you, he or she needs to live with you for a certain period of time before you can apply for an Adoption Order. The time period varies depending on the circumstances. For Agency adopters it is thirteen weeks. Once the application has been made to the Court the process should take between four and six months if it is straightforward. It is likely to be longer if anyone is opposing the adoption.
- Will adopters and birth parents meet?
- Only if they want to. Sometimes they are introduced outside of the Court process. Birth parents are notified that an Adoption Order is being applied for but do are not given details of the names and addresses of the adopters unless the adopters agree. Birth parents can attend Court hearings if they want to. Adopters do not have to. There is a special hearing right at the end called the “celebration” which is only attended by the adopters, the child and friends and family members.
- How does the Judge decide the case if birth parents disagree with an Adoption Order being made?
- The law says that the Judge must make a decision that is in the child’s welfare throughout his or her life. All parties, including the child if he or she is old enough, are entitled to have a say about this in Court. This can be a complex and stressful process and we would advise that you are legally represented, whichever side you are on.
- Does the child continue to have contact with birth family after being adopted?
- It depends. Often, arrangements are put in place for “letterbox” contact i.e. sending cards and letters. Less often, there are arrangements for face to face contact. Again, it depends on what is considered to be in the child’s best interests. Again, this is a complicated area and we would suggest that you seek legal advice about your situation.
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