A recent study has revealed that having a happy life is strongly linked with starting a family, be that child the product of a natural birth, through fostering or adoption.
It also found that those who decided to adopt after having unsuccessful IVF treatment have a better quality of life than childless couples and couples who don’t have fertility problems.
So, how does a couple who wish to adopt go about it?
The couple must, in the first instance, make an application through either the County Court or Magistrates Court in the area in which the child is living. The procedure highlighted here is where the birth family does not consent to the adoption but does not actively oppose it either.
1. The couple must complete and file an application form
It is a difficult form to understand and to complete. It may be worth getting legal help as there have been many cases where adoptions have been delayed because of mistakes made on the forms.
2. Court appoints reporting officer
If the birth parents agree to the adoption, then the court will appoint a reporting officer to visit them, check they understand just what they are doing and then personally witness the consent.
3. Social Services file Schedule 2 report
This report is completed by the adoption agency social worker and includes details into the background of the case. It is confidential and therefore is usually only read by the judge in the case. It may, on occasion, be shown to the adopters, but not to the birth parents.
4. Reporting officer reports the birth parent does not consent
In this situation the court re-designates the reporting officer as Child’s Guardian and will herald an investigation into the background and grounds for dispensing with the birth parent’s consent.
5. Adopters required to file Statement of Facts
From this point on adopters should not proceed without legal advice and representation. If it was already known that the birth parents were not likely to consent, the Statement of Facts should have been prepared and filed with the Adoption Application. A solicitor will prepare the document explaining the reasons for dispensing with the birth parents’ consent.
6. Guardian files report and court fixes directions appointment
The guardian’s report might be released to both the adopters and the birth parents. Often, as soon as the report is filed the judge will read it and get the parties back before the court to decide the procedure and the timetable up to the final hearing.
7. Final hearing
This is usually in two stages; firstly dealing with the lack of consent from the birth family and the second, with consent dispensed with, deals with the adoption itself. As already stated, some couples, while not consenting to the adoption will not seriously challenge it whilst, with some, there may be attempts to preserve some sort of contact. If an adoption order is made, it will usually be done so in front of the children.