Types of adoption

Adopting a child in care

For some children it is not in their best interests to remain in their birth family. In some cases, a birth family may decide they are unable to bring up a child themselves and request adoption, but more often children will have been removed because of concerns about their welfare.

Adoption is a way to provide a new loving and permanent home for a child when their own family is no longer an option.

The children may have had a tough start in life, and experienced neglect or abuse – and they need adoptive parents who can bring warmth, care and stability to support them.

Through the adoption process, our experienced team will support and advise you on the particular challenges of adopting a child in care. Once you have adopted, we have a range of services to provide you with on-going support for any issues you face. Find out more about support services.

Adopting siblings

Many of the children in our care are brothers and sisters who need to be placed together. Unfortunately, this means these children sometimes have to wait the longest to find a permanent home.

If you are thinking about adoption, we would urge you to consider adopting siblings. The decision to adopt can be daunting, and even more so for more than one child. However, adopting siblings can be hugely rewarding for you and of great benefit for the children. It means they can stay together and be part of the same family, and support each other through the process.

Our experienced team are available at all times to talk more about adopting siblings.

Adopting a stepchild

Adopting a stepchild is when you become the legal parent of the child. An application to adopt a stepchild needs careful consideration as it can be challenging for everyone involved.

Important things to consider to decide if stepchild adoption is right for you:

  • the child/children’s wishes and feelings – these will be a central consideration in any decision.
  • the views of the absent birth parent – the court will expect them to be contacted for their views
  • the implications of ending the legal relationship between the child and absent birth parent.

If the child/children are aged 18 or under, the court must receive the application before the child’s 18th birthday.

Our team are highly experienced in supporting people through the step-adoption process. To discuss your situation or to request an information pack call 03000 422373 or email adoption.partnership@kent.gov.uk.

They will also be able to talk you through alternatives to adoption if you want to explore other options that might best suit your family.

Alternatives to adoption

Child arrangement order

A child arrangement order (formerly known as a residence order) determines who a child should live with and gives parental responsibility to that person. Parental responsibility will then be shared with others who already have it (for example the birth mother and birth father) and you will all have a say in making decisions about the child’s future. A child arrangement order usually ends when the child is 18 years old.

Becoming a guardian

The step-parent/partner can be made the guardian of a child. This would only take effect on the death of the birth mother, and only then if no one else with parental responsibility is still alive.

Parental responsibility

A step-parent who is married to the birth parent or a partner in a civil partnership with the resident birth parent can obtain parental responsibility through a written agreement lodged with the court.

Adopting a relative

To adopt a relative, you must be at least 21 years old. You can apply as a single person or apply jointly with your partner. The relative you wish to adopt must be at least 19 weeks old.

We will complete an assessment and conduct the usual checks required for adoptive parents.

If the relative you want to adopt currently lives abroad, you need to contact the Inter-Country Adoption Centre. Please read the section below on adopting a child from overseas for more information.

Adopting a child from overseas

If you wish to adopt a child from overseas (Inter-country adoption), you need to contact the Inter-Country Adoption Centre for further information and advice about the process.

Early permanence

We encourage people to foster to adopt to avoid any unnecessary moves for the child or children. As an early permanence carer, you will foster a baby or toddler under the age of two while the courts decide on their future care.

What are the advantages?

Most babies and young children who are adopted have to manage several changes of carer and broken attachments before they are found a permanent, loving home. With the foster to adopt scheme, we try to avoid that and instead give the baby the best chance of a settled start and continuity, and the opportunity for bonding with adoptive parents to start sooner.

When a foster to adopt carer goes on to adopt the child they have cared for, they are in a very special position. They have helped their baby through the early, unsettling months when plans were still uncertain, and have got to know and them from a very young age. They will also have got to know the baby’s family and will understand the difficulties they faced around the child’s care.

What are the risks?

In our foster to adopt scheme, it is the adults who bear the risk. Fostering for adoption carers need to think about how they will deal with a period of uncertainty until the court reaches its final decision, and how they will feel if the court ultimately decides to return the baby to their birth parents or to a relative.

We are here to discuss all these issues, and help you consider if this route to adoption may be right for you.

Ready to adopt?

To find out more, get in touch or find out how to apply.