Adopting a child

Adoption gives a child a new family. To be adopted, a child must be under 18 years old and unable to return to their birth parents. You must be at least 21 years old to adopt a child who isn’t your relation.

Children eligible for adoption

To be eligible for adoption, a child must be under18 years old and unable to go home to live with their birth parents. A child cannot be adopted if:

  • they're married
  • they were married
  • they're in a civil partnership
  • they were in a civil partnership

Eligible to adopt a child

You must be at least 21 years old to adopt a child not related to you.

Adoption agencies decide who is suitable to adopt. An adoption agency is a local Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust or voluntary adoption agency. 

Adoption agencies usually consider each applicant's circumstances. They look at different factors. Their main concern is to make sure the person can meet the needs of a child into adulthood.

What an Adoption Order does

An Adoption Order severs all legal ties with the birth family and gives rights and responsibilities to the new adoptive family.

The adopted child becomes a full member of their new family.  When adopted into a family, the child:

  • takes the surname
  • has the same rights and privileges including inheritance as if they were born to the adoptive parents

The birth parents have no legal rights over the child. They cannot claim the child back.

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