If you are considering adopting a stepchild or close relative, or through an adoption agency, the road ahead can seem daunting. The legal procedure for adoption is complicated but our highly experienced and proficient family lawyers are here to guide you through the process and make it as smooth as possible for you and the child.

We have provided some insight into the most frequently asked questions surrounding adoption in Scotland:

If you require advice and support with the agency or non-agency adoption process, please do not hesitate to contact our team.

Can I adopt a child?

In Scotland, you can adopt if you are:

  • over 21 years of age;
  • single, married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting couple;
  • a gay woman or man, either by yourself or with your partner;
  • already a parent or not;
  • born outside Scotland but have lived here for at least one year.

If you wish to adopt your partner’s child or children, your partner must be at least 18 years old. Further, if you are adopting as a cohabiting couple, you must show you are in an ‘enduring family relationship’.

Even if you meet the criteria, this does not mean an Adoption Order will automatically be granted. The Court will base its decision on what is best for the child, and it will take various aspects of your and the child’s situation into account.

What is the process for adoption in Scotland?

If you are a stepparent or close relative of the child, you do not need to contact an adoption agency.

The following are the main steps involved:

  1. You should inform the local authority of your intention to adopt.
  2. The Social Work Department will assess your situation, including your health, financial circumstances and employment status, and will prepare a report for the Court on your suitability to adopt.
  3. Your lawyer will prepare and lodge your adoption application with the local Sheriff Court.
  4. A Preliminary Hearing date will be set by the Court (usually within 6-8 weeks).
  5. A copy of your application will be sent to the child’s natural parents and any other relevant persons. They have 21 days to inform the Court if they wish to oppose the adoption.
  6. If the application is opposed, the Court will consider the reasons for this and all other evidence at a specific hearing and make a decision.
  7. If the application is not opposed, the Court will decide whether to grant the Adoption Order at the Preliminary Hearing.

If you are adopting a child through an agency, the agency will carry out a thorough assessment of your suitability. If everything goes well and a child is placed with you, you will then follow the same Court process as above.

Who must consent to the adoption?

Anyone who has parental rights and responsibilities for the child (usually the biological parents) must consent. However, there are cases in which this may not be required, for example, if the natural parent has passed away or is unable to exercise their responsibilities for the child. If the child is over the age of 12, they must also consent to the adoption.

How long does the adoption process take?

Family-based adoptions can happen in just a few months. However, if your application is opposed, the process can take some time longer.

The assessment process for agency adoptions tends to take several months. After that, a child may be placed with you within a few months or up to a year. Following this, the Court process must be completed.

Contact Our Adoption Solicitors Based in Aberdeen & Stonehaven Today

From advising on your eligibility to adopt to representing you throughout the Court process, our adoption lawyers are here to support you at all stages. To discuss your adoption or any other family law matter with us, please contact Duncan Love or Susan Waters by telephone on 01224 581581 or fill in our online contact form.

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