Types of adoption

Adopting a child in care

Adoption is a way of providing a new family for a child when living with their own family is no longer an option.

Every adoption situation is unique but, for adoption to be the plan for the child, there will be some reason why it is not in the child's best interests to remain in the birth family.

In some cases a birth family may decide they are unable to bring up a child themselves and request adoption but, more commonly, the children will have been removed from their birth families because of concerns about their welfare. The children may have experienced neglect or abuse and will require extra help and support. Find out what support is available if you adopt a child in care.

Adopting siblings

Many of the children in our care are brothers and sisters who need to be placed together. Unfortunately, this means that these children sometimes have to wait the longest to find a permanent home.

If you are thinking about adoption we'd urge you to consider adopting siblings. We know that the decision to adopt can be daunting, and even more so for more than one child, but we are here to support you every step of the away.

Adopting siblings can be hugely rewarding, and is of great benefit to the children, It means that they can be a part of the same family and support each other through the process.

Read our sibling adoption success story to find out more about what's involved.

Adopting a step child

An application to adopt a step-child needs to be very carefully considered. It can be challenging for all those involved, particularly the child.

Before adopting a step-child

Please consider the following, before you start the process of adopting your step-child:

  • does the child know that the applicant isn’t the birth parent?
  • does the child want to be adopted?
  • does the absent birth parent have contact with the child and or pays maintenance?
  • does the absent birth parent know about your wish to adopt? The court expects him/her to be contacted for their views.
  • is now the right time for you and your family?
  • has the applicant lived with the child for longer than six months? Is the applicant in an enduring relationship with the child’s birth parent?
  • are you 21 or over (applicant)?
  • do you have criminal offences of a violent or sexual nature against children or adults?
  • are you domiciled or habitually resident in the UK?
  • is the child aged 18 or under? (the court must receive the application before the child’s 18th birthday).
  • can you pay the court fee (currently £170) as well as any charges by your GP for medical references (cost will vary).

Next steps

If you have considered the above and wish to speak to a member of our team about step-child adoption, please call 03000 42 23 73 or email adoption@kent.gov.uk to discuss your situation, where you will then receive an information pack.

Once you have read through the pack, you will need to complete the call back form, receipt and return to the adoption service. An initial enquiry advisor will then call you to discuss your personal circumstances. If appropriate they will book a meeting with an adoption social worker who will visit you at home to discuss your wish to adopt your stepchild.

The social worker carrying out the visit will ask you about your past and current circumstances as well as discussing any factors that may prevent you from being able to adopt, and the next steps of the process. There are alternatives to adoption that could be a more suitable option for your family and the social worker will discuss this if appropriate. You will also be able to ask questions.

Alternatives to adoption

Child arrangement order

A child arrangement order (formally known as a residence order) states whom a child should live with and gives parental responsibility to that person. Parental responsibility would then be shared with others who already have it, i.e. the birth mother and the birth father (if he has it). Having parental responsibility gives you the power to share in making decisions about a child's future with others who have it. A child arrangement order usually ends when the child is 18 years old.

Becoming a guardian

The step-parent/partner could be made the guardian of a child. This only takes effect on the death of the birth mother, and only then if no one else with parental responsibility is still alive.

Parental responsibility

A step-parent who is married to the birth parent or partner in a civil partnership with the resident birth parent can obtain parental responsibility through a written agreement lodged with the court.

Adopting a relative

To adopt a relative you must be at least 21 years old. You can apply as a single person or apply jointly with your partner. The relative you wish to adopt must be at least 19 weeks old.

We will complete an assessment and the usual checks for adoptive parents.

However, if the relative you want to adopt currently lives abroad, read our information below on adopting a child from overseas (also know as inter-country adoption).

Adopting a child from overseas

If you wish to adopt a child from overseas (Inter-country adoption) you need to contact the Inter-Country Adoption Centre for further information and advise you about the process 0208 44 74 753 or visit the IAC website.

Foster to adopt scheme

As a foster to adopt carer you will foster a baby or toddler under the age of two while the courts decide on their future care.

There can be different outcomes. It may be decided that it is in the best interest of the baby to live with birth parents or other relatives. or it may be that adoption by the current carers is decided to be the best for him or her.

Read more about the foster to adopt scheme

Back to top