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Legal Blog - Understanding Adoption

Tue, 2015-07-28 12:10

Adoption is an important process for both the child and adoptive parent or parents.

There are now fewer legal restrictions to adoption, meaning individuals over the age of 21 can adopt alongside married couples, civil partners and unmarried couples (including same sex couples) who are living together in a stable and enduring family relationship.

Adoption can take place through an adoption agency (eg BAAF, Barnardo’s or your local authority) or privately (eg a step-parent adoption). The former option involves an assessment process which takes around 6-8 months to complete. Either option requires a court application.

There is a basic requirement that the child must have stayed with the prospective adopter or adopters for at least 13 weeks before an adoption can be granted. The court will also appoint someone to speak with you (and sometimes the child) about your adoption application.

Adoption applications are very relevant with regard to surrogacy. A decision earlier this year from the Royal Courts of Justice in London involved a single man completing an adoption application for his son born through a surrogacy arrangement with the man’s mother. This is an unusual arrangement however highlights the need for single parents contemplating parenthood through surrogacy to obtain legal advice as adoption is the only means to ensure they are the only legal parents of their child.

The law surrounding adoption remains complex however the guiding principle behind Scots family law means that decisions about adoption are made in the best interests of the child.