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Family Court and the Adoption Process

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 26 Oct 2017 |
 
Family Court Adoption Child Documentaton

If you are adopting a child, it is important to consider the process and stages involved in the Family Court. The Family Court is a specialist court for all types of family related proceedings such as the adoption, care, contact and residence of children.

Adoption Orders

An adoption order removes parental responsibility from birth parents and/or guardians and transfers it to the adoptive parent(s). The child's welfare and wishes are paramount in any decision-making process. A number of conditions can be attached to an adoption order, which can be anything from schooling, to regular contact with a birth parent.

Application Process

Your application for an adoption order must be started in a Family Proceedings Court (FPC), which is a magistrates' court. If however, the application involves complex issues, it may be transferred from there to an Adoption Centre. Adoption Centres are specialist county courts with adoption-experienced staff. The adoption process may be started in the High Court if the child is not in Britain at the time the application is made.

If there is already a court order relating to the child, it may be convenient to start the adoption application in the earlier court (only if it is an adoption centre).

Consent

The court requires that the person(s) with parental responsibility consent to the adoption. This must be declared in the application along with a 'Statement of Facts' setting out the brief details of consent and signed by a solicitor or yourself. If however, the adoption is not consented to, you must give good reason as to why the court should dispense with their consent if in the best interests of the child. A copy of the statement is sent to each parent and guardian of the child. Should you wish for your identity to remain confidential, you should contact the court.

Documentation and Fees

An adoption order application must be accompanied by supporting documentation and the required fee. Details of fees can be found in the 'EX50; Civil and Family Court Fees' information leaflet on Her Majesty's Court Service homepage. The originating summons (if in the High Court), originating application (County Court) or Form 6 Adoption form (Magistrates' Court) must be submitted plus the following documents:
  • The child's birth certificate or certificate of previous adoption.
  • A medical report on the applicant(s) and child.
  • The adoption agency's report (if required).
  • Any documents to prove parental consent or copy of any placement order.
  • The applicants' marriage certificate or divorce papers (if applicable).

Court Process

Once the application has been issued, the court will give directions as to the next steps of the adoption, depending on the detail and circumstances documented in the application. The court is likely to order one of the following options:
  • The court may ask for an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (CAFCASS) to be appointed to act as a children's guardian, a children and family reporter or a reporting officer;
  • A report will be prepared by the Local Authority or Adoption Agency detailing the child, the family and those with parental responsibility, background etc to aid the court;
  • First directions hearing

CAFCASS

A children's guardian represents the child at court and provides a report of what they believe to be in the child's best interests. A children and family reporter may be appointed by the court to make any necessary inquires and prepare a report on the welfare of the child. A reporting officer is appointed if the parent or guardian has consented to adoption and is present whilst the parent signs consent forms. If consent is not given, the reporter must attend court to explain why. All three officers (or it may be the same person) are required to aid the court with any information useful to the application.

First Directions Hearing

A first directions hearing takes place approximately four weeks after the application has been received. Details of the hearing will be sent to all parties. The court will consider the application and make directions about matters, such as the timetable for filing reports; correction of documents; contested issues; additional parties; further directions; and if possible, the date and place for the final hearing.

Final Hearing

If the court decides to make an adoption order, they will do so at the final hearing. A copy of the order explaining what directions have been made is sent to the parties. Finally, the court will continue to monitor the progress of the case to make certain that all directions are complied with.

For more information you should contact a solicitor or Social Services who can provide you with advice and support on how to apply for an adoption order.

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hi I'm Catherine and I am 20yrs old... I had my little girl in 2014 everything was going great then I meet someone in 2015 as I became pregnant with his baby boy the social got involved, then I become pregnant with my 3rd child in 2016 and had another beautiful boy... we was put into a mother and baby unit as my l2nd boy had a accident in oct last year which was non me nor the dads fault.. everything went well intill the social spotted some DV on the CCTV and the put the children up for temp foster care via through court...... now we see our children via contact centres and their want to put them up for adoption.. I clearly showed the social services I have a massive bound with all my children and I love them dearly it totally break my heart now that their anit at home with us... the social and my solicter have both said its to late to break up with the father and that their have tried to help me get away from him... this anit true cause their never said anything like this to me nor the father.... all I want is my children to return home to my care I am devastated... I cry my heart out every night every time I walk passed their bed rooms... my court is in 3 weeks please can I have some advice on trying to fight them back!!! :'(
Catherine - 26-Oct-17 @ 4:36 PM
Sam - Your Question:
Hi my name is Sam I'm 24 and a mother of 4 I have 3 boys 1 girl and I was just wondering if I can get some advice my 4 children are getting adopted and its really upsetting me and I really would like them bk home with me and their father I can't live with out my kids its hurtful and I have no life now if any advice would be grateful thank you

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. You can see more via the Family Lives link here. Family Lives advisers are also on hand to give one-to-one guidance. Of course, much depends upon the circumstances surrounding why your children are being put up for adoption, which we are unable to make comment on due to it being in the hands of social services.
CourtroomAdvice - 13-Oct-17 @ 3:10 PM
Hi my name is Sam I'm 24 and a mother of 4 i have 3 boys 1 girl and I was just wondering if I can get some advice my 4 children are getting adopted and itsreally upsetting me and I really would like them bk home with me and their father I can't live with out my kids its hurtful and I have no life now if any advice would be grateful thank you
Sam - 12-Oct-17 @ 8:27 PM
Len - Your Question:
Hi I have two young kids placed for an adoption because of various problems me and my partner had. The couple who look after my kids applied for adoption in court I believe the local authority will come back to me and ask my consent. Im planning to go back to my home country for good can I raise to court if I can bring back my kids with me. I cant get any legal aid in this country unfortunately because my visa got no recourse to public funds I dont have any solicitor to represent me in court. I really want my kids back and until now im engaging to services that I suppossed to engage with to change my circumstances. Please advice me on where can I ask help and what to do. Thank you so much.

Our Response:
The agency arranging the adoption must let you know what your rights are - and also at what point the adoption can’t be stopped. If you don’t want your child to be adopted, a court will give you the chance to say why. A social worker, independent of the adoption agency, will visit you and record the reasons you don’t want your child adopted let the court know these reasons - you can go to court to explain them, please see link here .
CourtroomAdvice - 20-Jun-17 @ 3:42 PM
Hi i have two young kids placed for an adoption because of various problems me and my partner had. The couple who look after my kids applied for adoption in court i believe the local authority will come back to me and ask my consent. Im planning to go back to my home country for good can i raise to court if i can bring back my kids with me. I cant get any legal aid in this country unfortunately because my visa got no recourse to public funds i dont have any solicitor to represent me in court. I really want my kids back and until now im engaging to services that i suppossed to engage with to change my circumstances. Please advice me on where can i ask help and what to do. Thank you so much.
Len - 20-Jun-17 @ 8:31 AM
I have had my son taken away from me they are putting my son up for adoption how can I appeal to get him back
Leeann - 30-Apr-17 @ 5:27 PM
Hi my son is fully disabled and has a lot of health issues. He spends alot of time in hospital. His father has been absent since birth he has seen him 3 times in the first year. He is now 4 years old! Trying to arrange contact between them is impossible even through mediation and although he doesn't want to see his son he will not give PR to my partner who has parented my son since birth. What would be the likely outcome if we were to apply for a step parent adoption order without the fathers consent? Many thanks
Greeneyes112 - 1-Mar-17 @ 9:13 PM
Hii My name is Sagar & I'm 19 years old.I'm adopted child and I have applied for passport 5 months ago. I give Adoption deed to Passport office & then all procedure are completed with Police verification but they don't send my passport. Then I'm go to the regional passport office & they told me to I give us to a Court order but I don't have any Court order. So what can I do? Any suggestion please.
SR - 11-Dec-16 @ 5:24 PM
Please can someone help me I am just broken I have been a mum since I was 19 and had 3 children never had a problem but I got married to a man who I found out was alcoholic after I had my next 2 babies it got worse a domestic violence case opened and social services were involved I was suffering with post natal depression which I was never told and things went wrong my children were taken in June since I have been suffering with a nicotine and depression the final hearing is in a couple of weeks and social services want them to be adopted the thought of my babies never coming back is killing me what can I do to try and stop adoption order
Amanda - 22-Nov-16 @ 5:31 AM
Bobby - Your Question:
My parents are foster carers, they have been taken care of two children brother and sister for two years. the girl was a new born baby and the boy was two years old when they arrived with us. the social workers have found a family for them but we have insisted we want to adopt them now as we are attached with the children and vice versa. the problem is that we had stated it a bit to late in the process and now the children have been taken to the adopters house to live with them until I believe an adoption order is granted, 10 weeks this takes up to minimum. they have only been removed from us yesterday. we have stated to our social worker we wish to go through the legal route and go to court in order for the children to be located back with us so we can adopt as we are the only family which they know. is there any chance that we can get them back for adoption or anything we can do, the time frame this will take? The adopters currently have not got a adoption order so it has not been legalized yet

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. This is really beyond our remit to advise as the process itself is complicated with each case dealt with individually. I can only suggest you seek professional advice - but anything that goes to court will take time.
CourtroomAdvice - 10-Nov-16 @ 10:07 AM
my parents are foster carers, they have been taken care of two children brother and sister for two years. the girl was a new born baby and the boy was two years old when they arrived with us. the social workers have found a family for them but we have insisted we want to adopt them now as we are attached with the children and vice versa. the problem is that we had stated it a bit to late in the process and now the children have been taken to the adopters house to live with them until i believe an adoption order is granted, 10 weeks this takes up to minimum. they have only been removed from us yesterday. we have stated to our social worker we wish to go through the legal route and go to court in order for the children to be located back with us so we can adopt as we are the only family which they know. is there any chance that we can get them back for adoption or anything we can do, the time frame this will take?. The adopters currently have not got a adoption order so it has not been legalized yet
Bobby - 9-Nov-16 @ 10:12 AM
dean - Your Question:
Some advice please, my ex partner has not allowed me to see my son since 2010. I started court proceedings to see him bit I attended 10 minutes late and the case got withdrawn. The late attending was down to the court hearings being held at different venues but I had two weeks prior to this hearing, given written notice to my legal representative that I no longer wanted them to represent me. Anyway, I have not started further proceedings, I have seen my son a few times since then and every time I see him I tell him that I love him very much and miss him dearly. Today I received a letter stating that his mother and stepfather have made an application to the court for adoption. As you can imagine, this has broken my heart and I don't know where I stand or how/if I can stop this from happening. There has never been any order to prevent me from having contact with him, just his mother not allowing it to happen. What can I do and how do I stop it?

Our Response:
If you do not have Parental Responsibility (PR), the court is not required to have your consent before making an adoption order. However, if you do have PR, then your consent will be needed, and if you refuse it, it means your ex can apply to adopt via court, please see Family Lives here. Your best course of action would be to seek legal advice regarding opposing this and also apply for an access order, if you wish to see your child. The court will always act on what it thinks is in the best interests of your child, therefore it is difficult to predict what a court may decide.
CourtroomAdvice - 14-Oct-16 @ 2:09 PM
Some advice please, my ex partner has not allowed me to see my son since 2010. I started court proceedings to see him bit I attended 10 minutes late and the case got withdrawn. The late attending was down to the court hearings being held at different venues but I had two weeks prior to this hearing, given written notice to my legal representative that I no longer wanted them to represent me. Anyway, I have not started further proceedings, I have seen my son a few times since then and every time I see him I tell him that I love him very much and miss him dearly. Today I received a letter stating that his mother and stepfather have made an application to the court for adoption. As you can imagine, this has broken my heart and I don't know where I stand or how/if I can stop this from happening. There has never been any order to prevent me from having contact with him, just his mother not allowing it to happen. What can I do and how do I stop it?
dean - 13-Oct-16 @ 11:21 PM
My question is this how many hearings before the finalization.Also can there be adopted without ruling a second party out that wants adoption placements.
Veronica - 21-Apr-16 @ 7:33 AM
Cali - Your Question:
My little boy who is 5 on the 11th January has been in foster care for nearly a year now, I have been through the courts and the last court with was in November 2015 they said they were going to do an adoption placement will I have enough time to try and go back to court again and try fight for my boy again. I have had another child who is 6 months old and I am having councelling due to my childhood being infecting my parenting although social worker is now saying I am doing everything so well now and that my baby will be on child in need on the 12th April please can someone help me I have never been through all this and my little boy has a bond with his mummy that no one can break and it really hurts the fact that I don't know if I can do anything else as social services are saying that I cant anymore :( please help me am 22 year old.

Our Response:
I'm afraid we cannot advise on this if is is in the hands of the Social Services. I can only suggest you seek professional legal advice.
CourtroomAdvice - 4-Jan-16 @ 11:03 AM
My little boy who is 5 on the 11th January has been in foster care for nearly a year now, I have been through the courts and the last court with was in November 2015 they said they were going to do an adoption placement will I have enough time to try and go back to court again and try fight for my boy again. I have had another child who is 6 months old and I am having councelling due to my childhood being infecting my parenting although social worker is now saying I am doing everything so well now and that my baby will be on child in need on the 12th April please can someone help me I have never been through all this and my little boy has a bond with his mummy that no one can break and it really hurts the fact that I don't know if I can do anything else as social services are saying that I cant anymore :( please help me am 22 year old.
Cali - 3-Jan-16 @ 8:13 AM
Hi on the 3rd of November 2013 my children where taken into care under section 20 as both myself and my partner had drug issues it all went to court and my kids were placed into permenant foster care with the view to have my two youngest at the time aged 2 yrs and 6 mths to be adopted. The adoption was to be affect of as immediate but two years down the line they have just started the court proceedings my kid are now ages 4 yrsand nearly 3 yrsand they both have extreamly strong attachments to both myself and my partner as well as there siblings and extended family we are fighting the courts all the way to stop the adoption and keep them in foster care with the determination to fight for the back as my partner is in full time work now and alsowe have our two oldest children back in our care through the whole thing social services have always states that they have no concerns or issues with our parenting skills just the fact that we had addictiona but yet all there reports start with severe neglect and then condradict them self's by saying how excellent we are when we are with our kids and how close and strong our family bond is. They have also told that many lies on there paperwork it's unbelievable and also say those lies under oath in a court of law but yet get away with it every time even tho we can prove that they are lies they also because of my terrable childhood make me out to be a monster to my friends and say that I am not allowed to be left alone with children so there for punishing me for what my parents did to me yet have gave me back two of my children. I have read in the PDF laws for social services that unless I agree and sign paperwork that my kids cannot be adopted so I will never agree or sign there is a lot of information out there that us parents can read and get a lot of knowledge from that social services don't think we can access and I am willing to give anyone the relevant access info to if they would like it as I think we as parents who are victims to social services lies and decete are in titled to access social services are just big fat cats who make a lot of money out of peoples pain and missery and don't give a care or thought as to how it affects our children toothey are ment to help keep family's together and provide support and help where needed not rip us apart and there is far too many of them who are a law upon them selfs. I as a parent will never give up or back down from what I believe in and am willing to help anyone who needs the right info for their own specific needs.
ni - 24-Sep-15 @ 2:53 AM
our son was born on the 6th October through a c section 7 weeks early at 4lb 3oz we got broken into just before he was born and the backdoor never got fixed so our son got hyperthermia we went to every contact, the assessment which everyone says is set up to fail by social services they says I was not bonding with him but the thing is with me having a c section I was on a drip and he was upstairs at the hospital attached to a heart monitor so I couldn't see him for 3 days then when I did I never left his bedside then I had got let out of hospital he had to stay in an extra 25 days then when he caught hyperthermia we took him to the hospital because with it being Saturday the doctors wasn't open I stayed with him for 2 days then our social worker turned up with someone from child protection and took him off us,at the assessment they split up me and my boyfriend and with me having depression they put stuff into my head and made it easier to get me on my own so they knew I wouldn't be able to do it they also told me it wasn't guarantied that I would get my son back when we got home they told us we could have contact with him three times a week but when we got home we wrote notes about everything from him being born till now im finding it harder not seeing my son he is only 8 months old and getting passed around everywhere the foster carer he's with just puts him in a baby walker without even playing with him we have also been told to get a solicitor because they are taken off us to get adopted we don't want this but the social worker has done assessments with our families and says they have failed it as they are too old we don't want our son adopted but they are saying we were neglecting him because he lost weight the reason he lost weight was because his food wouldn't stay down anything he ate he was sick if we get our son back and need a social worker we are getting a different one we have support from both of our families but my boyfriend now needs counselling and I need higher depression tablets also the social worker was only working for 6 weeks and we were her first care she never had any children of her own the other day she also asked me and my boyfriend if we have ever had a hiv test because she has one every six months me and my boyfriend don't need testing we are with each other 24 hours a day and have only ever been together my son is Harley
sonie - 11-Jun-15 @ 2:32 PM
my son was taken off me and my boyfriend because before he was born we got broken into and the backdoor never got fixed because our landlord wouldn't pay for anything our son ended up getting hyperthermia and we couldn't go to the doctors because it was Saturday so we rang the hospital who took him in for 2 days where I stayed with him our social worker turned up at the hospital with a police woman who worked with the child protection they then took our son but he was born 7 weeks early which made him premature that was in November we then done an assessment which everyone says is set up to fail with social services they split up me and my boyfriend knowing I had depression and so they could put things into my head with me being single I am 19yrs old our son is now 8 months old and they have decided to take us to court to get our baby taken off us and put up for adoption we have made notes of everything that they have said was done wrong and mentioned why we thing everything is wrong because in the reports we received from the assessment they told us not to give him his bottle until the health visitor had been because as everyone knows you put a baby on the scales straight away after they have ate something it gives the wrong reading the health visitor says we were neglecting our son and were not paying him much attention also I wasn't bonding with him properly but I had him through a c section and with him being early he couldn't be brought down to my hospital bed with him being on heart monitors and me being on a drip I wasn't allowed to see him for three days but as soon as I did I was never away from his bedside then he got kept in for 25 day extra also he was born at 4lb 3oz which made me scared of changing him or doing the things your meant to do with a 3 month old baby btw my sons name is Harley and if we get our son back we defo arnt keeping the same social worker thanks for listening my name is Sonia Johnston
sonia - 11-Jun-15 @ 2:11 PM
please help a few years ago we asked for help of social services as our benifits stop .they ended putting our son up for adoption saying he might get emotionly harmed in the furture. i got pregant again and when was eight months pregant they found out and said they was goin to take our son at birth. so fled to southen ireland i gave birth to my son in ireland he has an irish birth cert.now the english want him they 5 weeks to get a court sorted in england my son is nearly 5 months now.he will be going back to uk on his own to peole he dosnt know as we will never go back as will never be able to be parents.can they do a case if we not in the country.
loving parents - 14-Mar-15 @ 2:56 PM
Croydon County Court made a Care and Placement Order on my daughter on 24th October 2014, My daughter ended up with prospective adopters on 12th May 2014, Today I was notified by my ex that the Adoption Hearing is listed for 12th March 2015 at the central family courts, The District Judge in court refused my sisters special guardianship order where she was positive. the local authority did not comply with court orders and refused to submit a report of why my daughter was neglected in care by the foster carer. The circuit judge stated that I had no merits in my appeal which is wrong and the central family court misplaced my application and ignored my emails. I have obtained proof that my application was submitted to the court and it was signed by the court. due to the maladministration my child was placed with prospective adopters.
Terry - 28-Jan-15 @ 5:04 PM
Hi, I was wondering what legal position I am in. My son was taken into care at the end of 2011 due to my active drug and alcohol addiction. The courts decided it was best for him to be adopted. Ive never signed anything.I have been clean and sober for seven months, I now have family who want to support me,I work for a treatment centre helping others with addiction problems and am doing a health and social care level 3 apprentership. I wanted to know if there is anyway I can fight for him. He is still living in foster care and are still looking for adoptive parents. I would appreciate it so much if you could get back to me. Thanks
Serenity - 6-Jul-13 @ 7:18 PM
Social services took my 2 children aged 8 and 2 without a court order and without consent. My children were never abused our only fault was my wife’s cerebral palsy and learning disability. We had support from several voluntary organisations and were coping very well. We had a social worker who wanted to leave the support in place that we had and close the file on us because in her words we were “doing everything right”. Then another social worker took over from her and the first thing she did was take away our support, then forced my wife to leave the family home by threatening to separate our children and make them disappear into the care system forever if she refused. Then 3 weeks later the children were taken because the social worker had watched a TV show about men that kill their children and commit suicide - I had depression at the time. I have a report from my GP saying that I had depression but not suicidal, and a report from the mental health crisis team written on the same day after the children were taken saying there is no evidence of risk. We have had social services in our lives from the moment my wife moved out of the care home she was in, that was 12 years ago. We were married nearly 11 years ago and they keep telling me to divorce my wife and I’ll have a slim chance of having the children returned. They also tell my wife that if she divorces me then she will get more contact with the children than me. My eldest aged 8 always asks me if she can come home when we have contact visits (4 hours every fortnight) and I have been warned not to talk to her about this or they will cut off the contact. This was brought up when my daughter told me she is going to be adopted and she didn’t want to be adopted but wanted to come home. I told her that me and her mum want her and her sister to come home and it’s not called adoption it’s called forced adoption. I have suggested a plan to have our children returned: 2 x 1 hour visits per week from home start, 1 visit per week from the school parent support worker, 1 visit per week from trent and dove family support worker, and 1 x visit from a social worker who can get feedback from the other agencies and monitor us. This would be 3 days more support than we had when we were in the previous social worker words “doing everything right”. This has been dismissed by social services and cafcass guardian and they are pushing for adoption. You can see for yourself what the law says "Social Services must work with parents and make every effort to return children to their birth family wherever possible"The final hearing is 31st of may – 3rd of june at burton on trent magistrates court. All I’ve seen so far is a load of expert witnesses, independent social workers, cafcass guardians, and solicitors making huge sums of money out of us, and when the pot of money runs out our children will be adopted. My solicitor has told me that I should prepare myself for losing my children.
Paul Roberts - 27-May-11 @ 7:54 AM
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