Reversing an Adoption - Can an Adopted Child be Returned to Birth Parents?

Adoption is a permanent arrangement involving the transfer of parental responsibility and the legal rights and responsibilities of parenting to a child’s adoptive family. While an Adoption Order cannot normally be reversed, in some limited circumstances it may be possible.

If your child has been placed into adoption against your wishes or you have subsequently had a change of heart over an adoption, you may want to overturn an Adoption Order. This is difficult to do, as an Adoption Order in England and Wales is normally irreversible, however adoption is occasionally reversed.

At Crisp & Co, we specialise solely in family law, meaning we have extensive expertise in this complex area of law. Our adoption law team has experience in challenging adoptions, representing both birth parents and adopted children who wish to sever their link with their adopted parents.

We will go through your case with you and give you a realistic assessment of your chances of success. Where we believe that you have sufficient grounds to attempt to reverse an adoption, we will put together a strong case on your behalf and do all we can to overturn the adoption.

Book your free initial consultation with our reversing an adoption solicitors

Contact our adoption lawyers today to book your free 1-hour consultation and discuss your case with an expert member of our team.

Or complete our simple online enquiry form and someone will be in touch shortly.

For more information in respect of our services in this area, see our page on Adoption.

Our adoption solicitors’ expertise

We provide expert advice, free of legal jargon, as well as outstanding service to our clients. Our services in respect of reversing an adoption include the following:

  • Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your case
  • Advising you on the likely success
  • Putting together a strong case on your behalf
  • Taking witness statements and gathering evidence in support of your case
  • Ensuring you have expert representation in court
  • Representing children who wish to overturn an Adoption Order

Can an adopted child be returned to birth parents?

An adopted child can be returned to birth parents, but only in exceptional circumstances.

Examples of ways in which reversing an adoption can happen

Reversing an Adoption Order is difficult, but if we are able to demonstrate one of the following points, you may be able to bring a case asking the court to do this:

An error of law

Where the judge hearing the case makes an error of law, this could be serious enough to allow the court to subsequently revoke an order for adoption. The error needs to be substantial however, and will need to amount to a fundamental breach of natural justice.

Procedural irregularity

There is a set process that must be followed in care and adoption proceedings which is designed to allow both of the child’s parents the opportunity to work to improve their situation to give them the best chance of keeping their child with them.

Where the process is not properly followed, for example, a parent is not notified of a hearing or their evidence is not considered, they may be able to raise this as a reason for reversing an Adoption Order. Again, the issue would have to be a serious one to stand any chance of success.


Where an aspect of proceedings is unfair, there may be grounds for bringing a case. For example, if a child’s birth mother does not put forward the birth father’s details so that he is not notified of adoption proceedings, he could ask the court to reverse the adoption of his child.

Illegal or unlawful adoption

Where a birth parent was pressured or forced into adoption against their wishes, they may be able to challenge an adoption where they can provide evidence of this.

Adoptive parents failed to meet the child’s welfare needs

On very rare occasions, a child may be removed from adoptive parents and returned to a birth parent where the adoptive family have failed to meet their welfare needs, in particular where a child has suffered harm.

Appeal out of time against an Adoption Order

Deadlines for requesting leave to oppose an Adoption Order are short. Where there is a substantial reason for asking for permission to bring a case later than the deadline, the court may grant this, however it will only do so in exceptional circumstances.

Why choose Crisp & Co for advice on reversing an adoption

Reversing an adoption is very difficult and can only be done in certain unusual situations. To stand any chance of success, you will need a solicitor with genuine expertise in this type of case. At Crisp & Co, we deal only with family law matters, meaning that we have an exceptional depth of understanding in respect of adoption.

We can go through your case to identify any possible grounds for overturning an adoption and put forward the strongest possible evidence on your behalf.

We understand how stressful and upsetting adoption proceedings are and you will find our team sympathetic and supportive. As well as outstanding legal and procedural knowledge, we are known for our excellent standard of service and client care.

We know that acting quickly is essential and we always work proactively to deal with matters without delay. We will take the time to make sure that you understand fully what is happening and make sure we are available to speak to you as needed. We will answer all of your questions as fully, clearly and as honestly as we can and provide the guidance and help that you need throughout the process.

We have been awarded the Law Society accreditation in Family Law Advanced for our experience and skills in handling complex family law cases, including difficult adoption cases.

We are also Lexcel accredited for our leading client care and legal practice management.

Get in touch with our reversing an adoption solicitors

Contact our adoption lawyers today to book your free 1-hour consultation and discuss your case with an expert member of our team.

Or complete our simple online enquiry form and someone will be in touch shortly.

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