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Adoption Orders

An Adoption Order gives the adopters parental responsibility for the child, who is then treated legally as if born to the adopters as a married couple. Each parent / guardian, the adoption agency and local authority (or the voluntary organisation who has care of the child) must be joined as a party. The child must attend the hearing unless there are special circumstances.


The court’s primary consideration is for the child’s welfare. Adoption orders can be made by the High Court, County Court or Magistrates Court and the application must be presented in the district where the child lives. Adoption documents are confidential.

Should the adoption order be refused, the child must be returned to the adoption agency within 7 days. The agency will attempt to find another suitable placement. The court can attach conditions to orders, such as allowing the birth parent(s) contact with the child or stipulations for the child’s religious upbringing.

What criteria does the Court consider in adoption proceedings?

Under the Children Act 1989 the Court is obligated to consider the best interests of the child. Any decision made must account for that consideration.  Other factors include:

  • the child’s wishes and feelings (in view of their age and understanding)
  • the child’s particular needs
  • the effect on the child of ceasing to be a member of their birth family
  • the child’s age, sex, background and any of the child’s characteristics which the Court or Adoption Agency considers relevant
  • any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • relationships which the child has with relatives and any other person whom the court or agency considers relevant including:
  • the likelihood of any such relationship continuing and the value to the child of its doing so
  • the ability and willingness of any of the child’s relatives, or of any such person, to provide the child with a secure environment
  • the wishes and feelings of any of the child’s relatives, or of any such person, regarding the child
  • consideration for the child’s religious, racial, cultural and linguistic background

What conditions can apply to children who have been adopted?

Applications for adoption can be made individually or jointly as a couple. A couple is defined as two people living in an ‘enduring family relationship’ – they can be married, unmarried, of the same sex or civil partners.

If it is considered in the best interests of the child then birth parents and other family members can be permitted contact with the child. Once an adoption order has been granted then the adoptive parents have parental responsibility and are legally responsible for the child.

The requirement for parental consent can be dispensed with, provided certain circumstances exist such as:

  • the parent or guardian cannot be found or is incapable of giving consent
  • the welfare of the child requires that consent be dispensed with

Contact AFG Solicitors

If you have further questions regarding adoption orders or if you require legal advice about an adoption order, please call01204 377 600 and speak with AFG LAW’s expert family law team who can help. Alternatively, you can fill in our contact form or email us at We are also accredited members of The Law Society’s Children Law Accreditation Scheme.

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