18th – 23rd October marks the UK’s National Adoption week. Adoption is a way of providing a new family for a child whose biological parents are unable to look after them, or taking on legal responsibilities for a stepchild. The legal procedure of adoption transfers all parental rights to the adopters.
Jefferies are proud to have three members of the Law Society Children Panel offering advice in this area. This accreditation means that Anne-Marie Rainsford, Sian Jenkins and Brooke Robdrup-Kilgour are accredited specialists in the law relating to adoption in England and Wales. Having seen adoption in a wide range of circumstances, we know how sensitive the procedure can be for everyone involved – as well as how magical it can be when new families come together.
The New Adoption Strategy
In July, the government outlined a new strategy seeking to improve adoption services and place more children with families while reducing wait times.
The strategy, to which the government has dedicated £48 million, will see thousands of families benefiting from better adoption support, ending the ‘postcode lottery’ that currently surrounds adoption, which can vary from agency to agency.
There are currently nearly 3000 children waiting to be adopted in England, with an average waiting time of 15 months between being placed in care and being placed with a new family. The government’s new strategy seeks to tackle this by urging councils to prioritise adopters’ ability to provide stable environments for children, rather than their backgrounds.
They intend to challenge misconceptions around adoption, in the hopes that it will encourage those who aren’t sure if they’re able to adopt a child to move forward with growing their family. It is no longer the case that adopters need to be in a couple, or own their own home, for example.
Supporting families long-term
Children’s Minister Vicky Ford stated during the announcement of the new strategy that support for families is crucial “not only when the children are young, but through their teenage life and into adulthood.”
The strategy sets forth guidance on providing more training for front-line staff, as well as the supporting the work of 30 regional adoption agencies in both the initial application process, and continuing through each individual child’s life.
Lucy Peake, the chief executive of the Kinship care charity, said the funding would “mean that many more kinship carers will be able to access advice and peer support when they need it, helping them provide stable and loving care for vulnerable children”.
Cathy Ashley, of Family Rights Group, said that their advice line had received “more calls than at any time in history” over the past year. The new funding will allow it to answer 1300 more calls per year about their rights and options when it comes to adoption.
Will the law be affected?
While the legal proceedings around adoption will not change, the attitude around adoption will hopefully become a more positive one. Equally, the strategy seeks to ensure that prospective adopters are treated fairly and legally regardless of their background.
With the support of local authorities, access to adoption services are being reviewed to ensure that there is not unnecessary exclusion around who can adopt. A court ruling in December 2019 found that a local authority had acted outside the law when they turned away a prospective adopter couple because they did not have children waiting to be matched with the same ethnicity as the couple. The new strategy will aim to stop this happening again.
Building a family
Adoption may be a legal process, which can be formal and stressful – but the process of welcoming a new child into your family should always be a special one.
You should look for a Solicitor who is a Child Law panel member and a list of current membership is available on the Law Society website.
Jefferies is here to support your journey tactfully, thoughtfully, and in a supportive and informative way.
As experts in family law, we can guide you through your adoption from start to finish, checking every legal box while ensuring you and your new child are kept at the heart of everything we do. You can contact our specialist Children Law Solicitors on 01702 443 480, or email email@example.com
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.