A Guide To Adoption Law In The UK

Whether you are looking at putting a child up for adoption, or wish to adopt a child into your family, then you must understand the laws surrounding adoption in the UK. Some of these laws can be complex, which is why this guide aims to break down the ins and outs of the adoption process.

The UK Adoption Order Laws

An adoption order in the UK can only legally be made by a court and once they have made this order, the child will then become a full member of the adoptive family, taking on their surname and so on.

The adoptive parents will then have the sole rights to that child, as the birth parents will have no more parental rights or responsibilities. Once the court has made this order, the law states that it cannot be revoked or gone back on.

Before an adoption order is made, the court has to be satisfied that certain procedures and regulations have been put into place, including the child’s eligibility to be adopted, such as:

>Both birth parents must have given consent for adoption, unless they cannot be found or are incapable of giving consent. It may also be unnecessary to get consent from the birth parents if the adoption order has been delayed, or if the child and its welfare are at risk.

>The child must be under 18 when the adoption order was made.

>The child cannot have been married, or be married at the top of the adoption order.

As long as all of these requirements have been met, the child will be eligible for adoption and an adoption order can be made.

 Who can legally adopt in the UK?

 Not just anybody can adopt a child in the UK, many factors have to be carefully considered before you will be eligible to adopt.

Essentially, anyone that is over the age of 21 could be eligible, regardless of sexual orientation; whether you own your home or even if you are not in full time employment.

You can be single, living with a partner, in a civil partnership or married for your case to be considered, as the UK law states that no exceptions must be made due to your relationship status.

You may also adopt your partners child, if the child’s original parent gives consent (unless in the already discussed exceptions).

Being a British Citizen is also not a requirement if you wish to adopt a child in the UK, although there are some regulations surrounding this, mainly that you or your partner have resided in the UK for more than a year.

Before adopting a child you will undergo a police and medical check, to ensure that there are no issues around you being in care of a child. Any criminal history relating to children will rule you out completely, although other criminal cases will be carefully considered.

 How to adopt a child in the UK
Once you feel you are eligible to adopt a child, then there are several procedures you must go through by law. First, your eligibility will be tested according to the rules listed above.

 As long as the court feels you have the child’s best interests in mind, it is likely that you will be granted with an adoption order, in which case the child will then be your legal responsibility.

 You may be keen to adopt a child in care, in which case you must go through an Adoption Agency. The British Association for Adoption and Fostering lists adoption agencies contact details, so that you can arrange to discuss your options in further detail.

 It is advisable to seek out legal advice before making a decision to put your child up for adoption, or to adopt a child. A legal advisor can ensure that your Case is presented to the court in the best light, as well as making sure that you cover all of the bases that they will be looking for in terms of an adoptive parent.


Adopting a child can be a very rewarding experience, as long as the regulations and laws are followed. Whether you know the child you want to adopt, or just wish rescue one from a care home, you must understand the implications and procedures that go along with it.

If you are putting your child up for adoption, for any reason, then be sure to provide the court with the information that is needed, as well as being aware of the rules surrounding eligibility.

Remember, legal advisors can assist you in any parts of the UK Adoption Law that you are not sure on, so seek out the advice before making a decision.

An article by Rebecca Walton who writes regularly for SA Law, who have a specialist, Adoption Law practice.

Image Credits:  Rcvnl 1 & Vastateparkstaff 2

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