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Fostering to Adopt
When you give a child a home, you don’t just give them a roof over their head, you give them the love, support and much-needed stability they need to thrive. Fostering to adopt is a great way to give a child a stable home where adoption is likely to be the final outcome, but you cannot yet officially adopt them.
At Crisp & Co, our friendly adoption solicitors are here to help you through the adoption process to become the legal parents of your child.
We can handle all the legal aspects on your behalf as well as providing professional advice and support.
Fostering and adopting a child is a wonderful, rewarding thing to do, and we would be proud to be by your side every step of the way.
How our adoption solicitors can help with fostering to adopt
Our adoption solicitors can assist with all the legal aspects of fostering to adopt a child and provide a friendly, welcoming service. Our service covers:
- Advice about the legal process of fostering and adopting a child.
- Advice about parental rights and responsibilities, and why they are important.
- Support as you go through the process of becoming an approved foster and adoptive parent.
- Help applying for Adoption Orders and other child-related court orders.
- Post-adoption advice, such as advice about handling disputes with the child’s birth family.
As a firm, we are accredited in Advanced Family Law by the Law Society for our expertise handling complex and emotive family law issues.
We are also Lexcel accredited for our high standards of client care and legal practice management. This means that you can trust us to:
- Listen and be sympathetic to your needs.
- Provide a warm, open environment where you can be honest about any worries you have.
- Be proactive and respond to your calls and emails quickly.
- Dedicate ourselves to securing the best possible outcome for you and your child.
Our clients come from all over the UK for our advice and we will be more than happy to help, whether you are a married couple, single person, opposite sex couple, same sex couple or non-binary couple or individual. We have particular experience advising LGBT+ individuals and couples about adopting children and other family law matters.
What is fostering to adopt?
Fostering to adopt (or fostering for adoption) is when a baby or young child is placed with foster parents with the intention that they will eventually be adopted by the same foster parents.
Often, the parents are approved to be foster carers and adoptive parents at the same time, then they foster the child until they are allowed to adopt them. However, sometimes existing foster carers may choose to adopt their foster child, or approved adoptive parents may be temporarily approved as foster carers.
In many cases, the children involved are subject to care proceedings, usually where there are no other relatives who can care for them. The local authority will have decided that adoption is in the child’s best interests and placed the child in foster care while they proceed with their adoption plan.
The court’s approval is needed before the adoption plan can go forward, so there is always a risk that the court will decide that the child should return to their birth parents or another relative.
However, if you are willing to take the risk, by fostering to adopt you can give a child a home right from the beginning of their life, preventing multiple moves between carers and allowing the child to form and retain healthy bonds.
What is the difference between fostering and adoption?
Fostering is when you look after a child who cannot live with their birth parents. To be a foster carer, you need to be assessed and approved by your local authority. There are many different types of fostering. For example, as a foster carer, you may look after a specific child long-term, or you may provide a temporary home to many different children.
Adoption is the process of becoming a child’s legal parents (even if you are not their birth parents). There are many circumstances in which you can adopt – for example, you may adopt:
- Your stepchild
- A new born baby
- A child in care
- Your grandchild or a child you are related to
- A child from another country.
You may also adopt a child who is currently going through care proceedings, either directly out of care or by first becoming their foster carer. You must also be assessed and approved to become an adoptive parent.
The main difference between fostering and adoption is that foster parents are not the child’s legal parents and they do not have parental responsibility (this is only held by the local authority and is sometimes shared with the birth parents). This means that foster carers cannot make major or life-changing decisions about a child’s care or future.
When adoptive parents obtain an Adoption Order from court, they become the child’s legal parents. This means they get legal rights and duties, such as:
- Inheritance rights
- Next of kin rights
- The duty to financially provide for the child
They also get parental responsibility, so can make major and life-changing decisions about the child’s upbringing and future.
What is the difference between fostering for adoption and concurrent planning?
The processes are both very similar.
With fostering for adoption, the local authority will usually have already decided that it is in the baby or child’s best interests to be adopted. However, the court still needs to agree and make a Placement Order or the child’s birth parents need to consent to the adoption.
With concurrent planning, the local authority may not yet have decided whether to push forward with care proceedings.
In both types of fostering and adoption process, there is a risk that the child could be returned to their birth family. However, many prospective adopters are willing to take this risk to ensure that the child gets the best possible care.
How does the fostering to adopt process work?
Your local authority or adoption agency can provide a full explanation about how their fostering for adoption process works.
There are two main routes to becoming a fostering for adoption carer:
- Dual approval – where you are approved as a foster carer and an adoptive parent at once. You then foster a child until the local authority is able to move forward with their adoption plan. To save time, it is possible to be dual-approved by the same panel at the same time. Otherwise, you will need to be approved by a separate fostering panel and an adoption panel.
- Temporary approval – where you have been approved to adopt already and the local authority temporarily approves you as a foster carer so you can care for a child until they are able to move forward with their adoption plan.
Broken down, the basic steps required are:
Become an approved foster carer
You will be assessed by the local authority.
While you are a foster carer, you do not have parental rights and you may be required to take the child for ongoing contact with their birth family. This contact will usually be supervised at a contact centre.
Until the court agrees with the local authority’s plan for adoption, there is always a risk that the child will eventually need to go back to their birth family. Local authorities always think long and hard before going ahead with fostering for adoption and will only move forward if they think it is highly unlikely that the child’s birth family (either the birth parents or another relative) can provide the home the child needs.
So, while most fostering for adoption placements do result in adoption, it is important to be able to cope with the uncertainty â your local authority or adoption agency may provide counselling and support groups to guide you through this experience.
Become an approved adopter
For an in-depth explanation of the process, visit our Adoption Solicitors page.
It is important to note that becoming an approved adopter is not the same as formally adopting the child. This can only occur once the local authority has either:
- Obtained the consent of the birth parents or other relatives (if they have parental responsibility)
- Obtained a Placement Order from court
Formalise the adoption
Once the local authority is able to move forward with the placement and you have been approved as an adopter, the next final step of the process is to get a formal Adoption Order from court.
The Adoption Order makes you the legal parent of the child, giving you all the parental rights and responsibility you need. It also severs the link between the child’s birth family and the child. Once the adoption is final, the birth family will have no right to see the child or have a say in the child’s upbringing (although some adoptive parents are happy to agree and ‘open’ adoption where the birth family stay in touch).
Typically, the child must have lived with you for at least 10 weeks before you can apply for the Adoption Order. We can handle the application process on your behalf, ensuring that all documentation is completed accurately with no room for error.
Once the adoption is finalised, you will receive an Adoption Certificate which replaces the child’s original birth certificate.