Types of adoption

By adopting a child you will become their legal parent.

There are several ways of adopting, or of gaining parental responsibility for a child you may already care for. The option you choose will depend on your circumstances and what is right for you and your family.

We can guide you through the different routes to making a child a part of your family.

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, who may feel that they are cut off from their birth history or that they have lost connection with an important part of their former life.

In order to be adopted, the child must be 18 or under (up to the day before their 19th birthday).

To adopt a step child, you must be over 21 and have lived in the same home as the child for at least 6 months at the point of making your application.

If you are the partner of a birth parent, you can apply to adopt the birth parent's child. You can do so as a couple with the birth parent or individually. You will need to demonstrate that you have an enduring relationship with the child's birth parent.

Please contact our team on 03000 42 23 73 to discuss your situation before making an application. There are alternatives to adoption that could be a more suitable option for your family. Alternatively you can email us adoption@kent.gov.uk.

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

Our priority is to find permanent and loving homes for children from Kent. However, we also accept applications from people in Kent wishing to adopt children from overseas. Adopting a child from overseas is known as inter-country adoption.

The process

Before you bring a child into the country, even if that child is a relative, you must first be approved. To find out more about inter-country adoption, contact IAC on 0208 447 4753 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

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