How to Adopt a Child in Scotland: Process, Criteria and Costs

Adoption

Adoption is the process whereby the legal parent and child relationship with the biological parent is severed and a new one is created with the adoptive parent(s). There can be many reasons why people adopt – a step parent who has been involved in the life of a child for many years, a couple who wish to provide a safe loving home for a child – there is no set formula.

Who can adopt a child?

Aged 21 or above

You must be aged 21 or over to adopt a child in Scotland, save for the exception of the adopter being a member of a relevant couple with the non-adoptive parent of the child to be adopted, and in such a scenario the adopter needs to be 18 or over. There is no upper age limit for adopting but consideration must be given to the difference in age between those adopting and the child if such difference is more or less than the normal difference between parents and children.

Single, in a couple or married

You can be a single person or in a relevant couple to adopt. The Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 refers to a “relevant couple”. This means a couple married to each other, civil partners, or living together as if husband and wife or civil partners in an enduring family relationship. It is also possible for parties to adopt when they are not part of a relevant couple for example single adopters.

Residency

Prospective adopters must meet certain conditions in respect of domicile and habitual residence. Where an adoption is sought by a relevant couple, one member of the couple must be domiciled in a part o the British isles or each member of the couple has to have been habitually resident in a part of the British Isles for at least one year ending with the date of the application.

If the adoption is by one person, who is part of a relevant couple, the parent of the child and the one person must be domiciled in a part of the British isles or habitually resident for a period of at least one year ending with the date of the application.

If the adoption is by a single person not a member of a relevant couple, then they must have been domiciled in the British isles or habitually resident in the British isles for period of at least one year ending with date of the application.

The Adoption Process

Adoption Application

Placement of a child for adoption – this occurs where a child is placed in the family of a prospective adopter or adopters with a view to adoption but before the order has been made. Where the petitioner (the person applying for adoption) or one of the petitioners is a parent, step parent or relative of the child or was placed with the petitioner by an adoption agency, an adoption order cannot be made under the child is at least 19 weeks old and at all times during the period of 13 weeks immediately preceding the making of the order the child’s home was with the petitioners. If neither of these apply then at all times during 12 months prior to the making of the order the child’s home must have been with the applicants.

Step 1

Placement of a child for adoption – this occurs where a child is placed in the family of a prospective adopter or adopters with a view to adoption but before the order has been made. Where the petitioner (the person applying for adoption) or one of the petitioners is a parent, step parent or relative of the child or was placed with the petitioner by an adoption agency, an adoption order cannot be made under the child is at least 19 weeks old and at all times during the period of 13 weeks immediately preceding the making of the order the child’s home was with the petitioners. If neither of these apply then at all times during 12 months prior to the making of the order the child’s home must have been with the applicants.

Step 2

If a petitioner/petitioners wish to apply to the court for an adoption order, they must first intimate their intention to do so to the local authority within which they reside. The local authority or the adoption agency will prepare a report which will detail the whole circumstances of the child and the petitioners and will indicate whether the adoption order is supported.

Step 3

The adoption petition is prepared and will be lodged along with the report from the Local Authority/ Adoption Agency. The court must then decide whether the petition requires to be served on the natural parents and the child. Children 12 and over must provide their consent to adoption. A reporting officer/curator ad litem is appointed who will prepare a further report, charged with the duty of safeguarding the interests of the child.

Do you have to pay to adopt a child?

There can be no payment for adopting a child in Scotland. There may be indirect costs to consider such as adoption agency fees, solicitors fees and court fees.

What are the birth parents rights?

These are extinguished upon the making of the adoption order, if they were not already extinguished by virtue of a permanence order having been granted previously. Occasionally, there may be a direction within an order that contact continues between birth parents and a child, however this requires the consent of the adopters, and would need to be considered in the specific circumstances of the case.

Contact us today on 01383 431 101 or info@caritaslegal.co.uk to discuss adoption further and how we can assist you through the process.

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