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Adoption is the legal process whereby the parental rights and responsibilities of natural parents are extinguished and vested in the adopters. 

Any child under the age of 18 who has never been married or in a civil partnership can be adopted. If a child is aged 12 or over then they will need to agree to the adoption, and if a child is under 12, but mature enough to have a view on the adoption then their views must be taken into account. 

The Process

If you wish to adopt a child who is a close relative or a stepchild, such as your niece or nephew or your partner’s child, then you will not need to contact an adoption agency as the following process will apply: 

  • You will need to advise the local Social Work Department that you wish to adopt and they will prepare a report for the court. 

  • Your Solicitors will prepare an application (called a Petition) and lodge it with the local Sheriff Court. 

  • The court will fix a Hearing and appoint an independent Solicitor to produce a further report on the child’s behalf. 

  • The birth parents will need to agree to the adoption unless the court decides their consent is not needed, for example if they are dead or unfit to care for the child. 

  • If no objections are received, a Hearing will be fixed to grant the Adoption Order. 

The court will only grant an Adoption Order if it is better for the child that an Adoption Order is made rather than not made. 

Adopting a child not related to you

If you wish to adopt a child because, for example, you cannot have any children of your own, it is likely that you will need to contact an adoption agency. The agency will need to approve you as an adopter and identify a suitable child. After that, the process would be the same as above. 


After the adoption order is granted

Once the order is granted you will gain full responsibilities and rights in respect of the child.  The General Registrar is informed of the Order and a new birth certificate is requested from the Adopted Children Register.  

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