Adopting your stepchild

The Adoption Service recognises that the welfare of children is the paramount consideration in all the work undertaken by the Service. This principle applies to step-parent adoption applications. The Agency also acknowledges that issues in relation to identity and heritage cannot be ignored when considering whether a step-parent should adopt children. The welfare of the child in both the long and short-term will always be the paramount consideration of the service.

Under regulations which were brought in during 2005 the partner of a birth parent can apply singly to adopt a child whether or not they are married to the birth parent. This means that the birth parent does not have to jointly apply to adopt their own child, however, they may choose to. The changes also make it easier for step parents to obtain parental responsibility for their partner's child. This could be obtained either by agreement of both birth parents with parental responsibility or the court may, on the application of the step-parent, order that the step-parent shall have parental responsibility for the child.

Applications to adopt step-children

Applications will only be accepted from individuals who reside within the boundaries of Newcastle City Council.

Applicants must inform the Agency in writing if their intent to adopt. This letter must be signed by the applicant themselves; solicitors cannot give notification.

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Step-parent adoptions: application procedure

Upon receipt of a letter of intent, the Adoption Team Manager will confirm receipt in writing and allocate the application to an Adoption Social Worker. Upon receipt of the application, the child of the applicant becomes a protected child and is subject to welfare supervision.  Welfare supervision will be conducted by an Adoption Social Worker.

Following allocation, the Adoption Social Worker will provide applicants with more information in relation to this form of adoption. If you are thinking of applying to adopt your stepchild, you should be aware of the following:

  • You will not be accepted if you have been cohabiting with the child's birth parent for less than a year. It is important that the stability of the relationship can be demonstrated; therefore the length of cohabitation will be given serious consideration.
  • The other birth parent will be interviewed and their views sought regardless of their parental responsibility status.
  • Enquiries will be made to the Police, Health Authority, Education and Social Services.
  • The child will be fully involved in the application process and direct work undertaken with him/her to tell their views.
  • The views of family members, particularly siblings, will be taken into account.
  • You and the child will be visited on a number of occasions.
  • The process is not a formality and the social worker will be required to make a recommendation to the Court.
  • You may find it useful to have legal advice from a Solicitor. This will be particularly important should the application be contested by the birth father or not be supported by the Local Authority.
  • You should be advised that they are not entitled to see the completedAnnex A reportunless the Court hearing the application gives leave. Applicants will be advised of a negative recommendation and the reasons for this recommendation.

If following this discussion the applicants decide not to proceed with their application, they must notify the Local Authority in writing of their intention to withdraw.

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Step-parent adoption: welfare supervision

Welfare supervision is required by law in order to monitor a child's well being within the family proposing to adopt him/her and for the prospective adopters to receive counselling on the implications of adoption both in the long and short-term.

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Step-parent adoption: the role of the court

The Local Authority is required to provide the Court with an Annex A report on the application within six weeks of receiving notice of the hearing and anyone requesting sight of the Schedule 2 should be advised to seek permission of the Court

The Adoption Social Worker should attend Court with the applicants and the child. The Court may make an Adoption Order, an Interim Adoption Order for up to two years, an alternative order or refuse the application.