What about adoption?
Adoption may not be something you have considered before, but understanding more about the process could help you decide whether it might be right for you. You may be undecided about whether to keep your baby or have an abortion, you may feel your circumstances can’t support a baby but don’t know what to do next, or you may just be exploring all your options.
This page provides a basic overview of adoption, but for more detailed information about adoption in your area, or to talk through your own situation, call one of our trained Advisors on 0300 4000 999. You can also visit www.gov.uk/child-adoption/overview for more detailed information.
What is adoption?
Adoption is when a new family is found for a child who can’t be looked after by their biological parents.
Although a completed adoption is a commitment for life, there are several stages to the adoption process and you do not need to make a final decision until after the baby is born.
Adoptions can also be flexible. If you would like some contact with the baby as they grow up, either face to face or through letters, this can usually be arranged. Adoption agencies usually try to find a family who are happy with the sort of contact you would like.
How does the process start?
Adoptions are either led by an adoption agency attached to your local council, or by a voluntary adoption agency. The agency will work closely and sensitively with you to take you through the process.
- Your local council can give you more information about how the adoption process works in your area
- The Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies can give you information of voluntary adoption agencies near you. Visit www.cvaa.org.uk
- Alternatively your GP or midwife can give you more information.
What happens next?
The adoption agency will spend time with you talking through your decision. However, nothing is completely arranged until after the baby is born, so you are free to change your mind at any time. After the child is born the legal process of signing parental responsibility over to the adoptive family can begin. There are two key stages:
- The adoptive parents will begin by making an application to the court. The court will then visit you and ask you to sign a document. This doesn’t happen until the baby is at least six weeks old. At this point it is possible to change your mind about the adoption, but after you have signed the document the court will need to be convinced this would be best for the baby
- Next, a report will be prepared for the court about how the baby is settling in with the adoptive parents. If everything is going smoothly an adoption order will be granted. The baby must be at least 19 weeks old and have lived with the adoptive parents for 13 weeks. This is the final stage of the adoption and after this it is not possible for you to change your mind.
A child can be adopted without the agreement of the father if he does not have parental responsibility for the child. If he can be contacted, the social worker will ask their views about the proposed adoption. If the father has parental responsibility for the child he has to be involved in the adoption process.
Where can I get support?
Although adoption is a life-changing decision for both you and the baby, it can be a very positive experience. If you would like to find out more, or simply have lots of questions, call one of our trained Advisors on 0300 4000 999 who will be happy to talk for as long as you need.
You may also find the following organisations helpful:
Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies
This organisation can give you detailed information about the voluntary adoption agencies in your area.
BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering)
This voluntary adoption agency and adoption support agency works with everyone involved in adoption and fostering across the UK. Their website can give you more detailed information on the adoption process.
Call 020 3597 6116 (Monday-Friday 9am-1pm)
We are not able to refer directly for termination. We offer clients information on all the options and are well resourced
to provide both immediate and long term support as necessary, directing to other agencies as appropriate.
View the evidence regarding ‘What About Adoption’.
Information last reviewed January 2014. Next review due January 2015.