3 minute read
Adoption is the legal process of a child becoming a permanent member of a new family. When an adoption order is made, this ends a child’s legal tie with their birth family. The advice on this page is aimed at parents whose children may be adopted outside of their family.
A child may come to be adopted outside their family following care proceedings.
Or it may be because a parent has made the difficult decision that adoption will be best for the child. Whatever the circumstances, adoption can only happen if the Family Court orders it.
What the law says about adoption
Foster for adoption
Foster for adoption is a type of foster care used when adoption is being considered for a child. It:
- Involves babies and younger children who are looked after in the care system, living with foster carers who may go on to adopt them
- Is allowed even though adoption is not yet the formal plan for the child
- Can happen even when the Family Court is not involved and has not agreed.
The idea is that the child is able to form a strong, early relationship with the people who may go on to adopt them. Children’s services and the Family Court have to follow strict legal procedures before a child can live with a family who wants to adopt them. But the law and process is different if children’s services want to place a child in a foster for adoption placement.
It is very important that any parent who thinks children’s services are proposing their child is cared for in a foster for adoption placement urgently:
- Seeks legal advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in children law. Or who has Children Law Accreditation. To find a solicitor, search using the ‘how to find a solicitor’ function on the Law Society website. See our Working with a solicitor guide on our Top tips and templates page for more information about finding and working with a solicitor, or
- Contacts us – call Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (the advice line is open Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 3 pm)
- And read our Foster for adoption: information for parents advice sheet.
When children’s services may consider a plan for adoption
Click on the FAQs below to find out more about when children’s services might look at a plan of adoption for a child:
Placing a child for adoption
A child is only legally adopted once an adoption order is made. Before an adoption order can be made, an adoption agency need to formally arrange for the child to live with people approved as prospective adopters. This called placing a child for adoption. Or placement for adoption. And it should only happen if the child cannot be safely raised by their birth parent(s) or within their wider family and friends’ network.
What is a prospective adopter?
Prospective adopters are people who have been approved by an adoption agency as suitable to adopt children. It sometimes is also used to mean people who would like to adopt but have not yet been approved. Prospective adopters may go on to adopt a child if the Family Court decides adoption is the best plan for the child.
What is an adoption agency?
An adoption agency will either be within a local authority (which will have children in its care). Or they might be an independent organisation, called a voluntary adoption agency.
When can a child be placed for adoption?
A child can only be placed for adoption if:
- The birth parents have given formal agreement to this plan (see section 19 (1) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002), or if
- The court has made a placement order (see section 21 (1) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002).