The law behind adopting
Adoption is a way of placing children who cannot be looked after by their parents with a new family. Around 4,000 children are looking for new families every year, with the majority of them being of school age and in sibling groups. Adoption is also an alternative for couples or individuals who cannot have children of their own — it is the assumption of full legal and parental responsibility for a child and is a lifelong commitment.
Once an Adoption Order has been granted, all parental rights are transferred to the new adopted family and the child’s birth family no longer has any legal responsibilities towards the child. The child will in most cases take on the name of their new family and will also receive all the same rights as anyone born into the family.
Who is eligible for adoption in the UK
The conditions for adopting in the UK are that one of the people wishing to adopt must be a resident of the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. The people wishing to adopt also must be over the age of 21 unless one of the parties is the mother or father, in which case the age is lowered to 18. The most important criterion is that the prospective adoptive parents can provide a stable and safe family life for the child.
Adoption agencies are run either by the state or privately and work to provide homes for children up for adoption. Agencies must assist and guide the prospective adoptive parents through the process of adoption. They will also carry out all the necessary checks and support the family after the adoption.
This is the process by which the court orders a local authority to put a child up for adoption, where the child is in care or might go into care, or if they do not have a parent or guardian. If the child has a parent or guardian, they must give their permission for the child to be put up for adoption unless the court believes that their consent should be ignored, as it would be in the welfare of the child to do so. Once the Placement Order has been put in place, the local authority becomes the legal guardian of the child until the child finds a new home, at which point parental responsibility will then pass to the new family.
Statutory Adoption Leave
Statutory Adoption Leave works in a very similar way to maternity leave. The main differences are that you must give your employer proof that you have the right to Statutory Adoption Leave. This is usually a matching certificate from an adoption agency, which must be recognised in the UK. You will not qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave or Pay if you:
arrange the adoption privately
become a special guardian
adopt a stepchild
have a child through surrogacy
If you are adopting a child from overseas then different rules apply.
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