Adoption

With wide ranging experience and expertise in family law, our specialist adoption lawyers help ensure that the adoption process goes smoothly and support parents on their adoption journey.

Whilst adopting a child is a wonderful way to build or add to your family, there is a strict process that needs to be followed and legal issues that need to be dealt with. Specialist advice from experienced adoption lawyers is essential to navigating the process successfully and with the minimum of stress.

Adoption is a legal procedure that ends in an adoption order being made. An adoption order transfers all parental responsibility for the child from their birth parents to the adopters. Once it has been made, it is almost impossible to reverse. 

Our lawyers

We help families and would-be-adopters throughout every stage of the adoption process. Below are some examples of situations we have helped our clients with:

  • Looking to adopt a child in the UK through either their local authority or a voluntary adoption agency
  • Looking to adopt stepchildren or close relatives 
  • Same-sex couples who are looking to adopt for the first time or grow their families
  • Used surrogacy to have a child but they have been unable to apply for a parental order
  • Investigating adopting a child from another country  
  • Obtained adoption orders from another country but need advice about having that order recognised in the UK
  • Advice on their ability to adopt in the UK
  • Advice on contact after adoption, whether they be a birth parent, members of the birth family or the adopted child

From the straightforward to the most complicated and contentious of disputes, you are in safe hands with our adoption experts.

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What you need to know

To adopt a child in the UK, an adoption order must be granted by the court to end the legal relationship between the child and their birth parents and to form a new one between the child and their adoptive parents. The child’s birth certificate is then replaced by an adoption certificate, legally naming the adoptive parents.

In some families, contact – anything from face-to-face meetings to sending an annual letter – between the child and their birth parents or birth family may continue. Whether this happens is decided on a case-by-case basis.

International adoption (also called “intercountry adoption”) can be a complicated process, both legally and procedurally. It is crucial to plan carefully and obtain legal advice, both here and in the child's country of origin, before pursuing an international adoption. Without proper advice, prospective adopters may end up committing a criminal or civil offence, despite acting with the best intentions.

The rules on eligibility to adopt, the procedure for approval and the process for obtaining a final adoption order differ significantly from country to country. For example, some countries have stricter rules than others about foreign nationals adopting children from their state. Detailed information and advice should always be obtained before embarking on any adoption journey so you can avoid unnecessary complications once you start.

Foreign adoption orders are not always automatically recognised in England and Wales, and vice versa. Depending on which countries are involved, it may be necessary to obtain an adoption order in both countries.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Videos from our adoption lawyers

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Mills & Reeve's Head of Children Law, Zoe Fleetwood, and Mark Benton (who is one of our immigration lawyers) is joined by Ruth Cabeza from Harcourt Chambers discussing issues surrounding adoption and immigration in this video recorded in April 2022.
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