Adoption is the legal process where the parental rights are transferred from the biological parents to the applicant's parents, the biological parents will not be able to claim the rights of the child again. The child will become legally bonded to their adoptive parents, they will take their adoptive parents’ surname, joint rights and privileges including inheritance. Adopting a child can be a stressful and legally complex process, our family law team are trained to conduct these cases in a compassionate, professional, and effective manner.
Who can adopt?
In Northern Ireland, anyone over the age of 21 is eligible to adopt a child if they can provide a suitably secure and loving environment for a child and meet the necessary procedural requirements.
If the applicant or a household member of the applicant has child offences, a criminal record, or sexual offences, then they will not be eligible to adopt. For further enquiries on this matter, you may contact us by completing our
free enquiry form.
Am I entitled to maternity/paternity leave if I adopt?
When adopting a child in Northern Ireland, the adoptive parent may be entitled to ‘Statutory Adoption Leave’. The employee must provide a written notice to their employer regarding their intention to leave. It is advised to discuss leave intentions with the employer or check your employment contract as they may have their own adoption leave scheme which could be more generous than the statutory scheme.
The Statutory Adoption Leave scheme entitles the parent to take 26 weeks which is titled as, ‘Ordinary Adoption Leave’ and another 26 weeks which is known as ‘Additional Adoption Leave’. This will result in a 52-week work leave for the adoptive party. It is important to note that the employer cannot offer less than the statutory rights. If you believe that your rights are being violated, please complete our free enquiry form and we can offer you further guidance on this matter.
How does the process work and how long does it take?
The entire process of adoption can typically take between 6-18 months; however, the adoption of a newborn baby can take much longer. Firstly, the individual or couple express their interest in adoption by contacting a local agency.
If the applicant decides to proceed with the adoption, the applicant will undergo a thorough assessment. The agency will be likely to ask the applicant to attend preparation groups with prospective adopters. The assessment will include background checks, interviews, and visits to the applicant's home by a social worker who will ask questions about your own family background.
Following this, if successful, the social worker will the applicant with a child who needs an adoptive family. If a match is found a period of placement will begin. This will allow the child to build a relationship with the parent (s).
After a successful placement, the legal process begins. The applicant applies for an Adoption Order through the courts and once the order is granted, the child becomes a permanent member of the family, and their birth parents’ legal rights and responsibilities are terminated.
What financial support is available post-adoption?
Various types of financial aid and support are accessible for adoptive parents in the UK, including:
Settling-In Grants: These grants are intended to cover the expenses of essential items like beds or car seats as you prepare to welcome your adopted child into your home. You can seek guidance on securing these grants from your designated social worker.
Discretionary Housing Payments: Some adoptive families may qualify for discretionary housing payments, which can assist with housing-related costs. Eligibility and the specific amount granted can vary depending on your individual circumstances.
Adoption Support Fund: The Adoption Support Fund is available to provide financial assistance for therapy and support services for both adopted children and their families. This funding can address a wide range of issues, including improving relationships, boosting confidence, and managing behavioural challenges.
Adoption Allowance: Under specific circumstances, local authorities may offer an adoption allowance. This allowance is typically provided when a child may be more challenging to place due to factors like disability or behavioural difficulties requiring extra care and funding. Its purpose is to assist the adoptive family financially in securing a suitable home for the child.
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