To mark Adoption Week in Scotland we answer some common questions that often arise when considering whether to start the adoption journey.
How old do I need to be to adopt?
You need to be aged 21 or older to adopt. There is no upper age limit. For step-parent adoptions, the natural parent must be over the age of 18.
Can I adopt someone who is over 18?
No. The petition to adopt must be filed with the court before the child's 18th birthday.
Do I need to be married to adopt?
No. You are eligible to adopt if you are single, married, in a civil partnership or living together as if spouses or civil partners in an "enduring family relationship".
Can I adopt if I identify as LQBTQ+?
Yes. You are eligible to adopt regardless of your sexuality.
Can I adopt if I already have a child or children?
Yes. The number of children you have does not affect your eligibility to adopt.
Does my income or employment impact my ability to adopt?
Before granting an Adoption Order, the court needs to be satisfied that the prospective adopter has sufficient means to support the child. However, there are no specific criteria that need to be met.
Can I adopt if I have health issues?
There is no requirement to be of good health to adopt a child. However, the court will need to satisfied that any health condition would not affect your ability to be the child's parent.
Are the child's views considered?
Yes, unless the child is considered incapable of expressing a view (e.g. due to their young age). Assuming the child is capable of expressing a view, both the adoption agency and the court must give the child an opportunity to express their view and must have regard to this, taking into account the child's age and maturity. If the child is aged 12 or older their formal consent is required for an Adoption Order to be granted.
Do the natural parents have to consent to the adoption?
Yes, unless the court considers that their consent is not required. In the latter case, the court must be satisfied that the natural parent is dead, cannot be found, is incapable of giving consent, is unable to satisfactorily discharge their parental responsibilities or exercise their parental rights, does not have such responsibilities or rights, or the welfare of the child otherwise requires consent to be dispensed with.
Will the natural parents have a relationship with the child after the adoption?
Once the Adoption Order is granted, the natural parents' legal relationship with the child comes to an end. The natural parents may ask the court for contact with the child post-adoption but the court will only allow this if considered in the child's best interests.
If you have any queries in relation to adoption, please get in touch with one of our expert Family Law solicitors. We can have an initial discussion with you by email, telephone or video call.