Adoption orders

The adoption process can be complex and intricate. If you are a single person or a couple considering adoption you will have thought about numerous factors and circumstances in your consideration. The child’s welfare will be at the heart of this. 

An adoption order will make the adoptive parents the child’s legal parents, which means that the birth parents are no longer the child’s legal parents. To assess whether an adoption order is an appropriate step, there are three specific circumstances that need to be considered:

  1. Has the court already assessed that the birth parent’s parental responsibility should cease due to mental capacity or the child’s welfare must be placed above parental consent?
  2. Have the child’s birth parents already consented to an adoption order?
  3. Has the child lived with the prospective adopter for the required amount of time?

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What circumstances does the court consider in assessing an application for an adoption order? 

  • The child’s wishes and feelings in the context of their age
  • The child’s needs;
  • The child’s age, sex, background and relevant characteristics;
  • The child’s welfare and the risk of harm if adoption is not granted; 
  • The child’s relationship with existing relatives including the quality and longevity;
  • Entitlement to inheritance. 

All these factors will be considered. If an order is granted this will mean three principal things:

1)  That the birth parents will no longer have parental and legal responsibility;
2)  The birth parents no longer have the right to apply for contact with the child but they may seek permission to ‘apply for leave’ to do so.
3)  The birth parents no longer make a financial maintenance contribution to the child.

We have empathetic and experienced members of our team who specialise in adoption. Please call us on 0203 816 0548 if you would like a free, no obligation initial chat with one of our legal advisors. 

Challenging Adoption Orders

Before an adoption order, there is a placement order whereby the child lives with the prospective adoptive parents. There are certain circumstances in which a parent can apply to revoke a placement order but this comes to an end when the child is placed for adoption. When an application is made for an adoption order, the natural parents can apply to the Court for ‘leave’ in relation to the order. We have assisted parents in doing so where there has been a change in circumstances. 

Making an application for leave so that the question of parental responsibility can be reconsidered, requires strong evidence and the court will only consider it if there is significant change in circumstances since the making of the placement order.

Adoption orders can also be challenged once made. They are difficult to overturn as they are seen as permanent orders. However, in certain circumstances this can be done. Successful challenges are more frequently made by fathers who may not have been listed on the birth certificate and have been overlooked in the adoption process. Other situations where it may be possible to present evidence include if there has been coercion and unfair pressure or fraud whereby you believed you were signing a different document. 

If you would like to have an initial discussion regarding your case please call us on 0203 816 0548.

Challenges by adoptive parents 

Sometimes adoptive parents may find themselves in a situation with a child that becomes seriously ill or who has a mental health issue that becomes apparent only later after the adoption order has been granted.  This can be extremely distressing for the adoptive parents and the child. However, in these situations the court will consider if the adoptive parents can have their responsibility removed. 

This is more likely to be considered if:

  • The adoption was handled without sufficient information or proper examination of the child;
  • The child’s birth parents refused to report observations about the child’s behaviour or illness.

If you think this may have been the case and you would like to talk this through with our experts in this field, please call us on 0203 816 0548.

Stephensons’ family law team has a strong reputation for achieving positive outcomes for its clients.The department was voted the Family Law Firm of the Year in 2014 and is accredited in the Legal 500 and the Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession as ‘leaders in the field of child care’.


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