A Solicitors Role in the Child Adoption Process
Adopting a child can be extremely rewarding and can be a wonderful way to build or add to your family, as well providing a loving home for a child. There are, however, strict adoption processes you will need to go through before you are able to adopt, along with legal issues that can arise during this process in connection with the adoption.
To become a child's legal parents, it is important to engage a solicitor who specialises in family law to assist you. A family law solicitor will understand the legal process and the important legal rights of everyone involved. Keep reading to understand more about child adoption and the role your solicitor has in the process.
What Is Adoption?
Adoption is a legal process by which a child, who cannot be cared for or raised by their biological birth family, becomes a permanent and legal member of a new family.
Children who are adopted may have suffered significant abuse, trauma, violence or neglect from their previous birth families or previous caregivers. They may also have spent a lot of their life in foster care for various reasons and may bring their traumatic experiences into the lives of their new adoptive family.
After adoption, the adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents and have the same rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them.
Adoption gives a child the chance of a stable life, whilst receiving the love and nurture that all children need and deserve. Children who are adopted generally have better outcomes than those that stay in care.
How the Legal Side of Adoption Works
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 is the primary legislation that governs the law around adoption. An Adoption Order removes parental responsibility from the natural parents and gives it to the prospective parent(s), with the primary goal of achieving the best outcomes for the child or children.
Adoption is a life-long commitment and after an Adoption Order by the Courts has been made, the adopted child is treated in no other way than if the child's adopters were their biological parents.
Adoption Orders are often made after the intervention of the local authorities, however, not every child is adopted at the end of the process. The natural parent or parents can give their consent for the child to be adopted, however, there are safeguards in place to ensure that the parent(s) consent has been considered.
An Adoption Order is given in one of two circumstances. The local authority, either the council or social services, make a Placement Order, or if the child’s parents relinquish their care and consent to place the child for adoption.
If the birth parents of a child are neglectful or abusive, have serious health issues or have died, then local authorities may take the child into care.
Sometimes a relative such as a grandparent can look after them, or they may live with a long-term foster carer, or be placed for adoption.
In adoption cases, the local authority will make the decision and will apply to the court for a Placement Order. A Placement Order allows the child to be placed with their new adoptive parent(s).
Do I Need a Solicitor When Planning for Adoption?
Adoption can be a long process. As you are dealing with the family court system, it can be a complicated and confusing process with many stages along the way. Therefore, you need a solicitor to help you with the legal process of adoption. You cannot afford to get things wrong as you could fail the Adoption Order.
A solicitor's role will help you throughout the adoption process. Having an expert in family law will help make the process as seamless as possible. Whether it is assisting in completing the adoption papers to dealing with the case in court.
Solicitors can also help with the opposing side in an adoption case, where the birth parent or parents do not agree with the adoption and wish to stop it from happening.
Whatever the case, having a legal representative to help you with all areas of adoption is also essential. Adoption can be stressful and court cases can be overwhelming at times, your family law solicitor can help with that.
Steps to the Adoption Process
The adoption process can be long and drawn out, but the following steps will help you to understand what to consider and the role your solicitor will play in the process:
- Complete the adoption forms. It is advised to get legal advice from a solicitor at this stage as the forms are not easy to understand. Any mistakes could delay the process before it has even begun.
- A social worker will investigate you and your background. The report is never released to the birth parents.
- The birth parents must agree to the adoption, which is often not the case. The court has the duty to carry out a thorough and time-consuming investigation into all circumstances. The judge has the important decision of whether to overrule the birth parents' refusal to agree to the adoption.
- You will be asked to file a statement of facts whilst the court carries out the investigation. That can help the judge with the decision.
- The court’s officer files their report with the court. You do not see any of this unless you have legal representation - in this case, it may be released to you.
- Finally, there is an adoption hearing help in court. The law states that the child or children in question must be present at this hearing so any adoption order is made in front of them.
How We Can Help You
To find out more about the adoption process in more detail contact us at Bell Lamb & Joynson today. Our specialist team of family law solicitors will help you with any enquiry. The adoption process can be lengthy, so get our team of experts on board to help you throughout the process. We can be by your side every step of the way.
Whatever your circumstances, knowing what to expect can help you prepare for the process to come, ensuring it goes smoothly and helping you get the results you desire. Contact us today.