What is adoption?
Who organises adoptions?
Making the decision to place your child for adoption
Does the child's father have to agree?
What is the adoption process?
How people become adoptive parents
Choosing a family for your child
Contact with your child after adoption
After adoption support services
After adoption post box services
Adoption means finding a new family for a child who cannot live with their birth family. Birth parents lose their paternal responsibility, which is transferred to the adoptive parents making them the child's legal parents.
There are lots of reasons why adoption happens. Some people may feel that at this time in their lives they cannot look after a child and decide it's best to place them for adoption. Other parents have this decision made for them by the local authority (social services) and the Courts.
The Court makes an adoption legal by making an Adoption Order. When an Adoption Order is made it ends a child's legal relationship with their birth family. Adoption means changing legal parents forever.
A child is placed for adoption through an adoption agency. Local authorities run adoption agencies and there are also agencies in the voluntary sector such as Barnardo's. It's the adoption agency's job to find the right family for the child. Adoption agencies have social workers who work with the birth family, the adoptive family and the child.
If you are thinking about placing your child for adoption, it is really important that you have counselling. This means talking through your views, wishes and feelings so that you make a decision that is right for you.
A social worker from the adoption agency can help you with this or you can talk to a pregnancy adviser, health visitor or counsellor - your GP or local health clinic can arrange this.
If you are married to the child's father or his name is on the birth certificate, he should also agree that this is the right plan for your child.
If he does not agree, the social worker from the adoption agency will want to speak to him to find out about his wishes and feelings and we will take these into account. He may also want to take legal advice.
To find out more about the process you will go through to place your child for adoption visit the adoption process page.
It is important that people who adopt are able to love, care for and protect children until they become adults. Anyone who wants to adopt has to go through a very intensive assessment and training programme. They also have to have health checks and police checks and give us references.
All of the information we get from the assessment and checks is put into a report called the 'prospective adopters report'. This report is given to the Adoption Panel. The Adoption Panel recommends whether to approve people as adoptive parents. Then the agency decision maker makes the final decision about whether to approve people as adoptive parents.
A social worker will look for a suitable match for your child. If you want them to, they will show you profiles of families they think will make a good match and you will be able to give your views.
When the social worker thinks they have found a suitable family for your child, they will go to the Adoption Panel and ask them to recommend the match. If the panel and agency decision maker agree that the family is suitable, the social worker will arrange for your child to be introduced to them.
You may be offered the opportunity to meet the adoptive parents first. This meeting will usually be short and is usually held at the adoption unit.
Children are usually introduced to their new family at their foster carer's home.
The time they spend with their adoptive family is gradually increased to the point where they are ready to move into their new home. After your child moves to their new home, we will review their progress.
The adoptive family can apply to the Court for an Adoption Order when they are ready to take the final step. They can apply when your child has been with them 10 weeks. When the Adoption Order is made your child will be given a new adoption certificate which replaces their original birth certificate. The Adoption Order means that the adopters will become your child's legal parents.
You can say goodbye to your child at a final contact which will take place before your child meets their adoptive family.
When your child is placed with an adoptive family, your child's social worker will agree with the adopters and yourself what kind of contact there will be in the future. All forms of contact are voluntary unless there is a Court Order made stating the type and frequency of contact.
Contact with the adoptive family after adoption could happen in two ways:
1. Direct contact
This involves occasional face to face meetings between birth families and adoptive families to share information, for example, once per year. These arrangements are often made with the help and support of the Adoption Service.
2. Indirect contact
This involves birth families and adoptive families sharing information through letters and possibly photographs which are sent via post-box service, run by the Adoption Service.
Over time the needs of the adopted child can change and we may need to review the contact arrangements and possibly change them.
You can speak to the birth family social worker at the Adoption Service if you have any questions about contact arrangements and if you would like help with writing letters or maintaining contact arrangements.