Information and advice for kinship carers on adoption, how to adopt a child, alternatives to adoption and available support.

Adoption is the process where a child becomes a legal and permanent member of a new family. An adoption order ends the child’s legal ties with their birth family and all rights and responsibilities move to the adoptive parents, who will make decisions about the child and who they have contact with.

Adoption permanently breaks the link between the child and their birth parents, which can often create complex and difficult situations.

In almost all cases, it is not appropriate for kinship carers to adopt the child they care for. Instead, the family court will usually consider a special guardianship order or child arrangements order to make sure the child has a safe, secure place to live.

What is parental responsibility? (GOV.UK)

Who can adopt a child

You can apply to adopt a child if they have lived with you for at least 3 of the last 5 years and you are the child’s:

  • grandparent
  • aunt or uncle
  • step-parent
  • brother or sister
  • half-brother or half-sister through marriage or civil partnership.

You must write to your local council’s children’s services department to tell them you want to apply for an adoption order at least 3 months before you make the application. A social worker will need to prepare a report for the court.

If you are a family and friends foster carer, you can apply to adopt a child who has lived with you for at least a year. You must also have consent from the child’s parents or get approval from the family court to adopt without their consent.

Alternatives to adoption

It’s important to get legal advice so that you understand all of your options and can make informed decisions.

The most common way for kinship carers to give the child a more permanent home is through a legal order. Both a child arrangements order and special guardianship order will see you share parental responsibility with the child’s parents, but you will make day-to-day decisions about the child’s care.

As a special guardian, you are able to make almost all decisions about and for the child, unless the family court overrules.

Support from children’s services

Your local council’s children’s services department must provide a range of support for people affected by adoption. You can ask for an assessment to find out if you are able to access these support services.

If you adopt a child who was previously ‘looked after’ by children’s services, you may be able to claim an adoption allowance. However, this will depend on your situation and may be time limited.

Find your local council (GOV.UK)

Support from Kinship

Here at Kinship, we offer a range of free support for all kinship carers, including workshops, online advice and information, and peer support groups.

Contact our advice service to speak to an adviser or book an appointment.