The Law relating to adoption is now contained in the Adoption and Children Act 2002.
In summary the Act:
- Aligns Adoption Law with the relevant provisions of the Children Act 1989 to ensure that the child’s welfare is the paramount consideration in all decisions relating to adoption;
- Makes provision for the process of adoption and the conditions for the making of adoption orders, including new measures of placement for adoption with consent of placement orders to replace the existing provisions of the Adoption Act 1976 for freeing orders;
- Provides for adoption orders to be made in favour of single people, married couples and unmarried couples;
- Makes provisions obliging courts to draw up timetables for resolving adoption cases without delay;
- Amends the Children Act 1989 to introduce a new special guardianship order, intended to provide permanence for children for whom adoption is not appropriate;
- The Act changes the process of the adoption. The Act makes the welfare of the child the paramount consideration of the courts and adoption agency in all decisions relating to adoption, including in deciding whether to dispense with the birth parents consent to adoption. It provides a welfare checklist, which must be applied by the court and adoption agency.
The Act establishes new legal processes for placing a child for adoption through an adoption agency. Two routes are provided:
Birth parents may give consent to placement or a local authority may secure a placement order from the court, authorising it to place a child with the adopters whom they select. The Local Authority must apply for a placement order where it is satisfied that the child should be adopted, but the parents do not consent to a placement or have withdrawn such consent. The intention is to ensure that decisions about whether adoption is the right option for the child, whether the birth parents consent and, if not, whether the parental consent should be dispensed with, are taken earlier in the adoption process. The system aims to provide greater certainty and stability for children by dealing as far as possible with consent to placement for adoption before they have been placed; to minimise the uncertainty for prospective adopters, possibly facing a contested court hearing at the adoption order stage; and to reduce the extent to which birth families are faced with a “fait accompli” of the adoption at the final adoption hearing.
We will be happy to discuss with you all aspects of the adoption process and of course how much it is likely to cost you if the Local Authority is not prepared to assist you with your legal fees.