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Adoption by a Step Parent

Could you adopt Isabella?

Adoption child or children

We are looking for a new family for Isabella. Could you be her new family? Why not find out more?

If you are seeking to adopt a child of your partner you are likely to have different concerns than many other people who choose to adopt in quite different circumstances. Unfortunately there is little help available to step families and those considering taking this step, although this is improving.

We very much regret that this organisation is not able to offer individual advice to those seeking to adopt their partners children. The best we can do is to provide some information on this and the next page for those who are considering doing this.

There are very many children who live within step-families. For most there will never be an occasion when it is in their best interest to be adopted by their parents partner. If you are considering this option for a child you should look at your current situation, and why this might be in the child's best interests to be changed. Remember also, that merely applying for an adoption order could change things. For example, if the other parent of the child/ren is not currently in contact with them, they may respond to your application for an adoption order by renewing their contact, often temporarily, as a reaction to this. In such cases the well-being of the child, who faces the prospect of a second parting from one of their parents in the near future, may be harmed.

Please read all the following information to establish if you are eligible to adopt the child/ren.

Frequently asked questions

I would like my new partner to adopt my child

The first issue that many adults tend to forget is that adoption is about, and for children. What adults want is relevant but the court will not consider this to be an over-riding concern when it comes to making a decision.

Although it is quite natural for you to feel that your family will only be complete if the child were to be adopted by your new partner there are some who would suggest that there are other legal alternatives to adoption that should be considered fully.

I have recently married my partner

You no longer need to be married to adopt the child/ren of your partner.

Do I have to get the other parents agreement to the adoption

If the other parent is the mother

You will need her agreement. A court can dispense with the need for her agreement but there have to be very good reasons for them to do so. See grounds for this below.

If the other parent is the father and he was married to the child's mother

You will need his agreement. A court can dispense with the need for his agreement but there have to be very good reasons for them to do so. See grounds for this below.

If the other parent is the father and he has parental responsibility

You will need his agreement. A court can dispense with the need for his agreement but there have to be very good reasons for them to do so. See grounds for this below.

Parental Responsibility is usually only obtained in one of four ways:
By obtaining a residence order from a court stating the child lives with them,
or by having a parental responsibility agreement,
or by being appointed guardian to care for the child if a parent dies,
or by adopting the child.

For a PDF file with more information on parental responsibility from ParentLinePlus please click here.

If the other parent is the father but he was not married to the child's mother, nor has he obtained parental responsibility for them.

No. His agreement is not required. Parental Responsibility is usually only obtained in one of four ways:
By obtaining a residence order from a court stating the child lives with them,
or by having a parental responsibility agreement,
or by being appointed guardian to care for the child if a parent dies,
or by adopting the child.

Will the other parent have to be involved

Irrespective of the birth parents legal status the court will require a report (Schedule 2) to be compiled and wherever possible the wishes of both birth parents will be ascertained and what role they might intend to play in the future in respect of the child. Your current relationship with him or her, or the amount of contact they have with the child will not remove the responsibility for finding out their views, and reporting them back to the court.

But I do not know where the other parent is

You will have to provide the court with all the relevant information in order for others to try to contact them. They may also be unable to do so and will complete their report stating that this is the case.

But the other parent has not been in contact with their child

This is not a reason for the social worker compiling the Schedule 2 report not to try to ascertain their wishes in respect of any application to adopt.

But the other parent has not recently / never paid child maintenance

This is irrelevant. The court will still need to find out their opinions on the proposed adoption.

The other parent will never agree to the adoption

The court can dispense with the need for their agreement but there have to be very good reasons for doing so. When applying for the adoption order you can make a statement of fact on the Form A58 Page 3. Here you will have to give the grounds for this request. These 'grounds' should be one or more of the following:

* The parent or guardian cannot be found or is incapable of giving agreement;
* The parent or guardian is withholding his agreement unreasonably;
* The parent or guardian has persistently failed without reasonable cause to discharge his parental responsibility for the child;
* The parent or guardian has abandoned or neglected the child;
* The parent or guardian has persistently ill-treated the child or
* The parent or guardian has seriously ill-treated the child.

The information you enter here should not contain your opinion, it should be completely factual and wherever possible this information should be able to be confirmed by others.

The process of step adoption

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