Adoption questions and answers

This page contains frequently asked questions and answers in relation to adoption

What is the effect of an Adoption Order?

The effect of an adoption order is that it removes the parental rights and responsibilities of the birth parents and confers them onto the adopter(s).

Only a court may make the adoption order but it is the responsibility of a health and social care trust or an approved voluntary adoption agency to assess and approve people to become an adoptive parent.

If you wish to adopt a relative or a step-child, the local health and social care trust or adoption agency is not required to decide whether you should be approved to adopt.

The court will however ask them to provide a report on you, your partner; the child and the birth parents which will assist the court in making a decision.

What type of children are available for adoption?

The children who need a new family vary in ages; although older children rather than babies constitute the main group of children needing new families.

The children tend to have more complex needs; many have traumatic histories of neglect or mental, sexual and physical abuse; some have complex physical or learning difficulties.

Some children need to be adopted with their brothers and sisters.

What they all have in common is that they need a new family.

Is there any adoption legislation?

Yes.  At present the principal piece of legislation governing adoption is The Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987

New adoption legislation is currently being drafted.  It will be consulted on and is intended to be introduced in the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2014.

Who approves people to become adopters?

Adoption agencies make this decision.  An adoption agency is your local health and social care trust or a voluntary adoption agency.  You cannot be assessed or approved to adopt by an independent social worker. 

Who can apply to adopt in Northern Ireland?

Eligibility to apply to adopt criteria in Northern Ireland as provided for in Article 14 of The Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 was impacted by recent (October 2012 and June 2013) High Court and Court of Appeal Judgments, both of which are accessible at: The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's Application [2012] NIQB77 and The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's Application [2013]NICA 37.

The Court of Appeal judgment [2013] NICA 37 is the final decision in this case.

All courts have made it clear that no one has “a right to adopt”.  The ultimate decision with regard to any adoption will be that of the court.  The court will be governed by what is in the best interests of the child.  This consideration normally follows a rigorous assessment of prospective adopters to ensure that only persons capable of providing a loving, safe and secure adoptive home will be approved.

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