What is Adoption?

A child holding the hand of an adult, indicating the process of adoption

Adoption provides for a new family for a child in certain circumstances following care proceedings. A Local Authority can act as an adoption agency and legally arrange adoption where the Court has made a Placement Order and Adoption Order. There is currently a duty for the Local Authority to consider a child’s needs and seek an adoptive family able to meet them.

An Adoption Order removes parental responsibility from the birth parents and gives a child new legal parents. The child becomes a full member of the adoptive family, the same as being born to the adopters.

When a child is adopted the birth parents no longer have any legal rights and responsibilities for the child.

How long does adoption last?

Adoption is intended to be a permanent arrangement.

Can a child be adopted without parental permission?

 There are certain situations where a child can be adopted without the permission of the parents. 

Sometimes a Court will make a Care Order in favour of a Local Authority when it determines that a child has been or is a risk of significant harm from parents or carers. The Court will only make a Care Order if it will promote the child’s welfare. 

On making a Care Order the Court will have to consider the long-term arrangements for a child. If there are suitable family members available to care then the Court may make a Special Guardianship or Child Arrangement Order for a child to live with them. However, if there is nobody suitable to care for a child then the Court may make a Placement Order for adoption. 

This is such an important thing to happen in a child's life and in the lives of the birth parents that that the law requires the Court to make sure that they put the child's long-term welfare first when they make decisions about adoption. 

Case law suggests that adoption should be used as a “last resort” after other family members and the original parent’s ability to care has been fully considered. However, current government guidance to Local Authorities suggests that they should be considering and, if possible, planning towards adoption as a potential option for a child at the outset of Care Proceedings.

If a child is adopted can the parent have contact afterwards? 

It may not be possible for a parent to have contact with a child after adoption but there will usually be the opportunity for them to have indirect contact via the Local Authority in the form of news about the child from the adoptive family.

What should parents do if they are worried about adoption? 

If parents find that a Local Authority becomes involved they may wish to take legal advice as soon as possible. 

When a Local Authority is going through the pre-proceedings protocol for Care Proceedings or has issued Care Proceedings parents can obtain non-means and non-merit tested legal aid. 

When children are placed on a child in need or child protection register it may not be possible to get legal advice or assistance paid for by legal aid. 

If you're in need of adoption advice, please feel free to contact us.

Article Disclaimer

This article is for general information only and does not constitute specific advice. You should not rely on the information in this article. Fiona Bruce Solicitors recommends that you seek our specific advice if you wish to rely on the any part of this article. Whilst Fiona Bruce Solicitors makes every effort to ensure that the article is accurate, Fiona Bruce Solicitors excludes all liability for claim, loss, demands or damages of any kind whatsoever (whether such claims, loss, demands or damages were foreseeable, known or otherwise) arising out of or in connection with the use of this article or any other information contained on this website. Any information provided only applies to England and Wales.