Families come in all shapes and sizes as new relationships form and it is not uncommon for a parent to want to share some parental responsibility.
Who can apply to adopt a stepchild?
If you wish to adopt your partner’s children there are some criteria that you will need to meet:
- You must be at least 21 years of age.
- You must be living with or married to the birth parent, for a minimum of two years.
- You must live in England and have been habitually resident for at least a year.
- You must have been living with the child for at least six months.
In Slough, step-parent adoptions are managed by the Connected Persons Team at Slough Children First.
To discuss whether a step-parent adoption is right for your family, or if there are alternative options that can be explored, phone the team on 01753 690960.
Notifying the authorities
Before applying to the Court for an Adoption Order you will need to notify Slough Children First of your intention to adopt your stepchild.
Notification should be in writing and include the following details:
- Your full name.
- Your partner’s full name.
- The child’s full name and date of birth.
- Your current address.
- A brief reason why you would like to adopt the child.
You will also need to include information on the child, the other birth parent and whether they are aware of the adoption or have any contact with the child.
You and your partner will both need to sign the letter and return it to:
Connected Persons Team
Slough Children First
25 Windsor Road
Step-parent adoption step by step
A step-parent adoption will involve:
- Notifying the Council of your intention to adopt.
- A social worker will visit you in your home to discuss adoption in more detail.
- An assessment will be made of your suitability to adopt.
- Your assessment will be shared in Court and they will make a decision on your suitability to adopt.
- An Adoption Order is granted, if appropriate. This makes you the child’s legal guardian.
Social worker visit
Once we have received your intention to adopt a social worker will be allocated to visit you and your partner. They will tell you more about step-parent adoption and other options that might be available to your family.
The social worker will need to find out more about your family circumstances and the reasons why you would like to adopt.
They will explain the process and what will happen once you apply.
Adoption is a lifelong commitment and we need to be sure that it is the right option for your child.
In order to assess your suitability we need to determine:
The child’s best interests
The Court needs to establish that adoption will be the best option for the child. This will involve talking to the child about the adoption so that they know what is happening.
The social worker may also need to speak to your child alone to seek their views on adoption.
It is essential that your child knows the truth about their origins and relationships within the family.
Your child’s birth history
If you have not yet told your child about their birth history, we can give you some ideas to help.
It is important that your child has a record of their early life, including photographs, documents, mementoes and details of significant people in their life. You may like to consider having a special folder, box or album for this purpose.
The Court will need evidence of the family relationships. This will require us to provide evidence on the stability of your relationship.
Slough Children First has a legal duty to interview both parents, and anyone else who may have parental responsibility for the child, and ascertain their views.
You will need to contact the child’s other birth parent to let them know of your intention and clarify whether they are in agreement with your application.
The Court will require written consent of everyone with parental responsibility for the child.
If no such agreement is given, you may wish to obtain legal advice from a solicitor experienced in adoption matters.
If the absent birth parent does not consent to the adoption, the Court will do what is in the best interests of the child and may dispense with the need for the absent parent’s consent.
If the birth parent is deceased, the Court will require a copy of the death certificate and the social worker may need to speak to the deceased parent’s family.
Even if the absent birth parent has no contact with the child they will still need to be contacted, as they have rights as a birth parent.
Information about their life, family, health, education and employment are all important as well as their wishes and feelings about the proposed adoption.
Interviewing family members
The social worker will also need to see the child’s brothers and sisters and may wish to see other members of the family.
You will need to think about the important people in the child’s life, for example, aunts, uncles and grandparents, who might be affected if an Adoption Order is made.
Checks and references
We have a duty to make sure that any step-parent adoption is appropriate and will need to carry out a number of checks on your suitability to adopt.
These can include Police, health, education and NSPCC checks.
We may also contact the child’s school and any other professionals who may have been involved with your family.
The social worker will need to interview two people who can provide a personal reference for you and who can comment on your suitability to adopt.
Once the social worker has completed their assessment they will compile all of the information into a report and will make a recommendation on your suitability to adopt the child.
This will then be submitted to the Court, but cannot be shared by anyone unless directed by the Judge.
The Court will appoint a Reporting Officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS), to contact both birth parents and obtain their consent.
Once consent has been given, the Court will consider your application, the information in your report and will make a decision on your suitability to adopt. The Court will charge a fee of £170 to hear your application.
If the Court agrees that adoption is in the best interests of the child they can grant an Adoption Order. This gives you parental responsibility for the child and the same rights as any parent. The child will be issued with a new birth/adoption certificate. When your child reaches 18 years they can apply for a copy of their original birth certificate and a copy of their adoption records if they wish to view the details.