From the moment you decide to adopt a child, you will embark on a life-changing journey. Adopting can provide a home for a child who needs love and is a rewarding moment for any family. However, it is important to be aware that the adoption process can also be demanding and lengthy.
Here, we outline some key factors about the adoption process in Northern Ireland.
Why Should I Adopt?
Across Northern Ireland, over 3,000 children are in need a home, with over 3/4 of the young people having been in care for over 12 months. However, the sad reality is that only a fraction of these children will find a suitable home. With a large proportion of these young people having complex circumstances, it is imperative that their placement with a family is carefully considered.
Who Can Adopt?
People can apply to adopt a child whether they are an individual, married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner. It is possible to adopt as a couple without being married; however, it’s not possible to adopt jointly if one person is the other’s close relative such as a parent or grandparent.
In order to begin the adoption process, you must first meet the following criteria:
- Over the age of 21
- Lived in the UK for at least 12 months and have a fixed, permanent home in the UK.
Is It A Lengthy Process?
The adoption process can be demanding and can take a considerable amount of time depending on the circumstances. The initial process is divided into two stages;
- References are gathered, followed by initial checks. This can take around 2 months.
- The adoption service will then undertake an in-depth assessment. This can take around 4 months to complete.
At the end of the second stage, the prospective adopters will be required to attend a meeting with an adoption panel. At this meeting, your social worker will present their reasons why they believe you are a suitable candidate and a decision will be made.
Once your application has been approved, the matching stage will begin. Depending on the child’s needs, as well as the circumstances of those adopting, this process can be timely. Ultimately, there is no time frame for this stage as each case is unique. Find out more information about the process from Adoption and Foster Care.
How Will I Be Assessed?
As the needs of the child are paramount, you will be assigned a social worker at the beginning of the process, who will play a key role in the facilitating the adoption for both the family and the child.
They will meet with the adoptive family on a number of occasions to assess various aspects, such as:
- Their lifestyle
- Their own experience growing up or as parents previously
- The family’s support network
If the family have children from a current or previous relationship, they will be interviewed by the social worker to assess how they feel about the situation. These meetings will contribute towards the final decision made by the adoption panel.
Many children in the care system are in need of loving homes and adoption can help to provide that. At McPartland Solicitors, our experienced team can provide advice and support regarding the highly rewarding, yet demanding, adoption process. Contact our offices in Lurgan or Lisburn today and talk to a member of the team to find out how we can help you.