Your first port of call is to contact a solicitor – with significant experience in adoption, I can advise on whether you are likely to be successful before the process begins, and which other agencies may need to get involved.
Depending on the outcome of that initial dialogue, we would work together on an intimation to the local authority’s Social Work department who then prepare a detailed report for the Court, stating whether they support the adoption or not. That is usually the most time-consuming part of the process.
I would then prepare an application to the Court, called a Petition, which will be lodged with your local Sheriff Court. The Court will fix a date for a preliminary hearing six to eight weeks later. A copy of the Petition is sent to the natural parents of the child (where appropriate) and anyone else the Court considers entitled to be informed of the application. The natural parents then have 21 days to notify the Court if they wish to object. The Court will appoint an independent solicitor (called a Curator ad Litem or Reporting Officer) to produce an additional report during that period. They will also be tasked with obtaining any consents which are required.
Normally consent is needed from any person with parental rights and responsibilities for the child (normally their natural parents) as well as the child if they are aged 12 or over. However the consent of the natural parent can be dispensed with by the Court under certain grounds, for example if they are unfit to care for the child, cannot be found, are unable to mentally give consent, deceased or where the welfare of the child otherwise requires their consent to be dispensed with.
If there are no objections, the adoption will normally be granted at the procedural hearing. If objections are received, then the Court will fix a timetable and an evidential hearing will be fixed for evidence to be given and then the final decision will be made.