I’m a foster carer: can I adopt the child I’m caring for?
We get approached by a lot of foster carers wanting to know if they can adopt the child they are caring for, as they have developed a secure attachment to them and they would like to provide them with a forever home. The answer is yes.
As long as the care proceedings for the child has finished, then you can look at applying to adopt the child in your care.
The child must have been in your care for at least a year before an application can be made to court. You will also need to notify the local authority of your intention to adopt the child. This notice will need to be given three months before you make your application to court.
Once you have discussed adopting the child in your care, most foster carers will go through the internal adoption process within the local authority. This is called an agency adoption.
An assessment will be completed which will confirm whether or not the local authority agree with the plan for adoption. It will then be presented to their panel. Once all the assessments and internal processes have been completed, you can then make your application to court. The local authority will sometimes assist you with this.
If the local authority do not agree with your plan of adoption, you can still make an application to court. This will however be called a non-agency adoption. You would need to make an application direct to the court. You will still need to have given the local authority three months’ notice of your intention to adopt. The child will also need to be in your care for at least a year.
If the child has been in your care for less than a year, you can make an application to the court for permission to apply for an adoption order. You do not need permission if the child has been with you for more than a year.
As part of the adoption proceedings the birth parents will be notified that an adoption application has been made. They will be notified of the hearing date. They will also be told that if they wish to oppose the adoption order then they will need to make it known to the court and attend the hearing.
Once your application is before the court then the judge will make a decision on whether or not an adoption order is made. The local authority will be asked to file a suitability report with the court to confirm their recommendations on the adoption application.
If an adoption order is made then the child will legally become your child. Any relationship they previously had with their birth parent would end. They would no longer have parental responsibility. All parental responsibility will be with you.
One thing the courts will need to look at as part of the proceedings, is whether there should be any contact between the child and birth parent once an adoption order is made. There will be a number of factors to consider including whether the child is still having regular contact with their birth parent at the time of the application.
If you would like to discuss adopting a child you are currently fostering then please contact us on 0843 8866386.