Chapter 8 Key facts checklists

Adoption

• Adoption ends the legal relationship between a child and their birth parents. The child is treated in virtually all respects as the child of the adoptive parents.

• Adoption proceedings are governed by the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

• Adoption can be granted in respect of a person who has never married nor entered into a civil partnership. They must be under 19 years of age, although proceedings must start before their 18th birthday.

• Adopters must be over 21 years old, but need only be over 18 if they are a natural parent of the child.

• Adopters may be married couples, civil partners, unmarried couples, or a single person. One of a married couple can adopt in limited circumstances.

• A local authority can place a child for adoption with prospective adopters. If the child’s parents or guardians do not consent to this, then a placement order is required which dispenses with parental consent.

• The welfare of the child throughout its life must be the paramount consideration when an adoption agency or a court makes any decision affecting the child. This is different to the welfare principle in the Children Act 1989.

• When dealing with an adoption application, the court must consider the available alternative orders—residence order; parental responsibility; special guardianship order; no order—and must consider making a contact order.