Adoption Week 2018 - Adoption Issues in Family Mediation

What is adoption?

Adoption is a legal procedure in which the Parental Responsibility for a child is transferred from their birth parents to their adopters. An adopted child loses all the legal ties with their birth parents. Birth parents may consent to the adoption order when they recognise that they cannot meet the child’s needs, or the Court may impose an order where there are welfare concerns.

Same-sex couples in the United Kingdom have had the right to adopt since 2002, following the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

When an adoption order is made in respect of a child, the child becomes a full member of their new family, usually takes the family name, and assumes the same rights and privileges as if they had been born to the adoptive family including the right of inheritance. Adoption is a significant legal order and is not usually reversible.

Adoption agencies will undertake an assessment of people who wish to adopt to see if they are suitable. Ability to care for a child will be the agency’s main consideration and a person’s age may be relevant to that assessment.

Divorce and separation after adoption - how can mediation help?

Relationships can break down for adoptive parents just as they can for birth parents. The rights and responsibilities of the adoptive parents to their adopted child do not change. As in most cases of parental separation, the adoptive parents will share Parental Responsibility and will be jointly responsible for making important decisions regarding the child's health, education, and welfare.

Mediation provides a safe, confidential environment for adoptive parents to consider the best arrangements for their children following separation. Parents stay in control of decision making and can obtain legal orders by consent if these are needed; mediation is usually cheaper, quicker and less stressful than settling any disputes through court proceedings.

Do children remain in contact with their birth family?