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Child Adoption in the UK: What Should You Know?

26 February 2024

Adoption is a major life event, and one which can make a profound difference for all lives involved in a given adoption process. According to statistics published by Adoption Matters, there are nearly 2000 children awaiting adoption in the UK – a majority of whom can expect to wait for over a year and half before being matched with their new family. As a household considering adoption, what are the basics that you need to know before starting the process?

Eligibility Criteria

First and foremost, there is the matter of eligibility. Adoption is an extremely involved process, and one with a great deal of oversight attached to it. Those that wish to become adoptive parents must fit the criteria to do so – a potentially nerve-wracking part of the process, but one which no aspiring parent should concern themselves too heavily with. Quite simply, you must be over 21, have a fixed address and have lived in the UK for at least one year. More stringent criteria may apply, depending on the adoption house you choose to work with.

The Adoption Process

The process itself is relatively straightforward, albeit occasionally drawn-out – and potentially frustrating for waiting families. The process is designed simply to ensure children are being matched with a household that will love and nurture them. First, there are background checks, interviews and house visits to ensure your viability as a family and household. Meetings with the child are conducted at a slow pace and under supervision, as further checks are made – before the adoption papers are signed and you can start as a family.

Preparing for Adoption

Truthfully, no household can ever be truly ready for adoption. There are so many moving parts in the process, and so many complicated emotions involved as you introduce your adoptive child to their forever home, that adoption can only ever be a thing that is taken in stride. However, there are some essential steps you can take, from the preparation of a bedroom for the child to the creation of expense and trust funds for their future.

There is also, unavoidably, a legal angle to the adoption process – an angle which requires your attention, in order to better guarantee your future as parents and as a cohesive family unit. It makes good sense to retain the services of a family solicitor for your adoption process, irrespective the route you intend to go down; it is also the case that having access to legal support can make your life far easier after adoption, particularly in the event that your child’s biological parents return with litigious intent.

Post-Adoption Support

Speaking of the post-adoption period; after the excitement of bringing your adoptive child home, it can quickly become apparent what may have been missing from your initial adoption preparations. The saying ‘it takes a village’ is just as prescient for new adoptive households, and should be considered seriously as you start to build your new life as a blended family unit. Family and friends should be invited in to help make your lives easier, and confided in when things inevitably get hard. The result will be a loving, resilient and powerful family.

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