Step 2: Adoption Basics
Adoption is the process by which parental responsibility (this term is explained below) of a child is wholly and permanently transferred. Adoption ends all previous parental rights and duties, as well as any previous Court orders in respect of the child (such as contact orders), and awards full legal responsibility for a child to his new adoptive parents. Although there are many routes to adoption, all adoptions are formally enacted through the granting of an Adoption Court Order, the means by which the Court approves the adoption.
The main statute governing these proceedings is the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (referred to here as the ACA 2002). Major changes to this Act came into effect in 2014, so be sure that any advice you obtain reflects these amendments.
Reference is made throughout to parental responsibility. This is the framework set out in Part I of the Children Act 1989 which governs the relationship between children and those with legal responsibility for them. Part I imposes duties such as protecting the child and providing him with a home and the requirements of basic living, such as food and clothing. Parental responsibility can be held by a wide variety of individuals and organisations, including birth parents, other relatives and the local authority.
Further information about parental responsibility follows in the next section.