15 Nov Adoption Week 2020
What does the term ‘family’ mean to you? More than ever before, the definitions are endless. The days of mum, dad and two kids are no longer typical with the term meaning different things to different people.
Living amongst us all is a combination of households – single parent families, parents with new partners and stepchildren, grandparents with grandchildren, foster families, same-sex couples and their children – and so it goes on!
Others choose adoption, giving a person or couple the chance to be legally recognised as the parent(s) of a child.
Today, 16 November 2020, marks the start of Adoption Week 2020, a celebration of Adoption, funded by the Scottish Government and managed by the Adoption and Fostering Alliance (AFA) and Adoption UK in Scotland.
Throughout the week, events will take place providing information for those looking to adopt as well as existing adoptive families. This year’s celebration will focus on three themes; sibling relationships, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and therapeutic parenting. The annual campaign also aims to raise awareness of Adoption throughout the country, removing the stigma that can often be associated with the process.
So what is Adoption?
Put simply, Adoption is the formal legal process by which a person or couple can apply to the court to be legally recognised as the parent/s of a child. That’s the legal bit! However, it’s also the process of finding a permanent family for some of the most vulnerable children in our society who, for various reasons, can no longer be brought up by their birth parents.
Only a very small number of babies are relinquished for adoption by their parents at birth, so it is commonly older children who need to be adopted. By the time they have been placed in the care of the Local Authority, they have often experienced trauma in their early years, so desperately need the love and security an adoptive family can provide, who will help them to achieve their potential and keep them safe.
Who can adopt?
The Adoption laws in Scotland were updated in 2009 and a number of significant changes were introduced, including expanding who is now eligible to adopt. With single people, unmarried couples and same sex couples now included, more people than ever can apply to adopt a child in Scotland. The upper age limit was also abolished, which means that people can consider adoption later in life.
Once an Adoption Order is granted, it will give the applicant full Parental Rights and Responsibilities (PRRs) in respect of the child. It will also legally end those PRRs held by the natural parents of the child, other than in the case of a step-parent adoption.
An entry will be made in the Adopted Children’s Register and a new birth certificate issued for the child. Once granted, the child will legally be treated the same as they would had they been born to the parent/s. This includes their entitlement to share in the estate of the parent/s on death.
How long does the process take?
For the prospective parents, the process and length of time will vary depending on the specific circumstances. Even in the most straightforward of adoption cases (such as step-parent adoption), certain steps must be taken before an application can be made to the court.
And for the child looking to be adopted? Some groups of children can wait longer than others to be placed with a suitable family including sibling groups, children from different ethnicity groups, older children and children who are disabled or who have complex needs.
Many people will look to adoption as a way to start or complete their family but researching the implications first is crucial, ensuring you fully appreciate the complexities involved. Adoption will not be suitable for all families so it’s important to seek specialist legal advice from the outset.
I have helped a number of parents apply to adopt over the years, including adopting children from overseas. For an initial, no-obligation chat about your own circumstances, please call 01382 219004 or 07596 322 396, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.amandawilsonfamilylaw.co.uk.