Relative or stepchild adoption

If you want to adopt your partner's child or a relative who lives in the UK, you must tell the local trust before starting your adoption application to the court. Tell the trust at least three months before applying to the court. You should also get legal advice.

What the court needs from the trust

The court asks the local trust to provide a report on:

  • your partner
  • the child
  • other birth parent

A social worker prepares the report. The child’s other parent(s) must  agree to the adoption, but sometimes the court might decide this isn't necessary.

Adoption order from the court

The court views adoption on the child's behalf. They consider a parent's view but only grant an adoption order if this is in the child's best interests. Adopting a stepchild to complete a family isn't a strong enough reason for a court to grant an adoption order. 

By law, you and your partner need to adopt the child, even though one of you is already the child's parent.

Alternative to adoption

A step-parent can get parental responsibility for their partner's child:

  • if both birth parents agree
  • by a court order

This is an alternative to adoption for step-parents who want parental responsibility for their step-child. This doesn't remove parental responsibility from the other birth parent and doesn't legally separate the other birth parent's family. Civil partners can also arrange this alternative to adoption.

Adopting a relative from overseas

If you want to adopt a relative from overseas,  you follow the intercountry adoption process. It's the same process for adopting an unknown child. You should contact your local trust:

Regional Intercountry Adoption Assessment Service (RIAAS)

The Regional Intercountry Adoption Assessment Service (RIAAS) is responsible for intercountry adoption services in all Health and Social Care Trusts.

They provide information about intercountry adoption. They also prepare, assess and review applicants in Northern Ireland who want to adopt a child from overseas. 

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