Step parent adoptions or other non agency adoptions

Under certain circumstances, you can apply direct to the local courts for an Adoption Order if a child who is not related to you has been living with you for some time. Generally, the birth parents of any child would have to be willing to agree to the adoption.

Before a court application can be made you must give at least 12 weeks written notice to the local authority adoption service of your intention to adopt the child. This approach is most often used by step families who have a child or children from a previous relationship living with them. In these circumstances, some step parents feel they would like to legally formalise their position with their step child and obtain parental responsibility.

Step parents can obtain parental responsibility by:

  • a Parental Responsibility Agreement or a Parental Responsibility Order
  • a Residence Order
  • an Adoption Order
  • possibly by being named within a Child Arrangement Order

Who can apply to adopt?

  • You must be 21 years or over
  • You must have resided in the British Isles and have been habitually resident there for at least a year prior to the application
  • You do not need to be married, but you will be expected to have lived together as a family (with the child) long enough to demonstrate stability – this would usually be for at least six months before you apply to adopt
  • The child to be adopted must be under 18 and unmarried – if the application to court has been made before the child’s 18th birthday, then it is possible for a child over 18 to become adopted if the 18th birthday has occurred by the time the matter is heard

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We will be happy to help. We can also send you a copy of the Step Families and Adoption booklet.