Duncan Lewis

Legal Aid

Lawyers London

I am single can I adopt - Children & Adoption Act 2004

Date: (22 December 2011)    |    

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Duncan Lewis:The Children and Adoption Act 2004 was an amendment made to the earlier Children Act 1989 following the notorious case of Victoria Climbie. It was designed to pull together the many and diverse functions of local government relating to children’s education and welfare, under the umbrella statutory responsibility of local Directors of Children’s Services.

The basic idea was to assist local authorities and other agencies in regulating interventions in the interests of children, and there were various changes made to the laws governing adoption, foster homes and babysitting services as well as those pertaining to crimes against children.

Such seemingly tortuous changes to legislation are essentially designed simply to prevent the previously un-coordinated, and often poorly administrated, services relating to children from resulting in tragedy, and to make all child provisions safer and better.

A single person can adopt a child, just as a married couple can. Indeed, sexuality and marital status have not come into question since 2005 when it was enacted that unmarried couples can also apply for adoption on a joint basis. All the previous issues that once automatically ruled out a person’s right to adopt have now been removed.

There are still a few things to consider, however, and some basic criteria still to be met. You have to be over 21 and happy to adopt, of course, and determined to promote the child’s welfare and increase its life chances. If you have a record of criminal offences, this will be minutely examined by Duncan Lewis, or the family and childcare solicitor dealing with your case, but apart from any child related offences, these will not necessarily bar you from adopting a child.

There will be a full medical examination and your health issues will be considered in some detail to make sure that you are physically and mentally fit enough to raise a child. Ethnicity and religion are not necessarily factors bearing on the case.

Efforts are made on the part of social services to find the right home environment to promote the child’s welfare, and this might involve cultural, religious and ethnic factors, although in all cases this is balanced against the time factor, as they will want to place the child into a suitable home environment as quickly as possible.

Children are placed for adoption by voluntary agencies working within the framework of the local authority children’s services. Most of these agencies cover a 50-mile radius of their offices, but this does not limit you from adopting only from the immediate area. You can even contact several agencies at the same time when you first consider adopting.

The adoption process, from initial application to approval, normally takes a minimum of six months, as the social workers involved get to know you and work through any issues that may arise, and they make enquiries to the social services and police. They then submit their report to an independent adoption panel, which will make the final decision.