Guidance on step parent or partner adoption applications


This guide has been produced by us. It is intended to provide general guidance only as to the likely processes and considerations involved in step-parent/partner adoption applications and some of the implications for those involved. The guide cannot encompass all of the complexities and potential issues that may arise in individual cases and any persons considering an application are strongly advised to seek their own independent legal advice. Practice and processes may vary in different local authorities and court centres. Links and contacts to obtain further information and advice are at the bottom of the page. Please note, however, that we do not accept responsibility for the accuracy or contents of third-party agencies or websites.

1 Who can apply for a step-parent/partner adoption

1.1 An application for an adoption order can be made by the partner of a parent. The partner must be either the married spouse, civil partner or a person living with the parent as partners in an enduring family relationship. The applicant must be over the age of 21 years old and have been domiciled or habitually resident in a part of the British Islands for a period of not less than 1 year. The child(ren) to be adopted must not have attained the age of 18 years at the date of the application to the court. Please note that it is the responsibility of applicants to ensure they meet the full legal eligibility requirements in order to be able to apply for any adoption order including with regards to domicile / habitual residence. The local authority cannot give applicants legal advice in connection with this and if applicants are unsure whether they are entitled to apply they are strongly advised to seek independent legal advice before contacting the local authority (See section 5.2 below for more on this). The local authority cannot give advice in relation to any related immigration/citizenship matters or issues with the Home Office. In cases where the adoption may affect the child`s citizenship, you may be required to notify the home office/immigration service of the adoption application and you should seek independent advice on this (see also section 9 below in relation to any cases involving an international element).

1.2 The child(ren) must have had their home with the applicant at all times during the period of 6 months before making the application and notice of the intention to apply for an adoption order must have been given to the local authority at least three months before making the application to court (the court has no power to reduce or vary the three months` notice period). Please note however, that in addition to the six months period that the child must have had their home with the applicant, both the local authority and the court are required to consider the nature of the relationship between the applicant, the child and the partner parent and the likelihood of the relationship with the child continuing. Adoption is a life-long commitment and the local authority and the court will take into account the length and quality of the applicant`s relationship with the child when assessing the likelihood of that relationship continuing and whether or not adoption is appropriate.

1.3 The continuing parent (the parent who is the partner of the applicant) will retain parental responsibility for the child after adoption, which will be shared equally with their adopting partner. The other (usually non-resident) birth parent or other person with parental responsibility will lose their parental responsibility by the making of the adoption order. An adoption order will also sever the legal relationship the child has with the non-resident parent`s wider family.

1.4 For an adoption order to be made every person with parental responsibility must either consent to the adoption or their consent must be dispensed with by the court on the grounds that the child`s welfare requires that consent is dispensed with.

2 Matters to consider first

2.1 Obtaining an Adoption order for a child is regarded by any court as an extremely serious step as it permanently severs the legal relationship between the child and the other (non-resident) birth parent and their extended family. Any court dealing with an application to adopt a child is obliged to consider whether making a less draconian, alternative order such as the ones set out below or no order at all, is in the child’s best interests throughout their life. The decision about whether or not an adoption order should be made always remains with the court. An adoption order would only be made if the court is satisfied that adoption is proportionate and required to meet the child’s welfare needs throughout their life and that no other order (or no order) will meet their needs. The local authority can offer no guarantees in respect of the outcome of any adoption applications. 

2.2 A number of alternatives to an adoption order are available to step-families and all applicants need to consider these carefully before making any application to adopt. In the section below there is a general guide to the alternatives available but it is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all of the distinctions, criteria and rights/responsibilities that may apply to each of the options. Any person wishing to consider an adoption application is strongly advised to seek independent legal advice so that proper consideration can be given to which option is most suited to your circumstances and the needs of the child(ren) and any potential complexities. The local authority, Children and family court advisory and support service and the court service cannot give you legal advice. A family law solicitor or the citizen`s advice bureau may be able to give you further advice should you need it.

2.3 As well as considering the alternatives to adoption, before deciding whether to proceed you will need to consider fully the potential impact of making the application on the child, yourself, your partner and anyone else potentially affected by the decision. If you proceed with the application, the local authority is required by law to undertake a thorough assessment of your circumstances, your partner`s and the child`s welfare needs and your suitability to adopt. You will need to make yourself, your partner and the child available for meetings and social work visits, including to your home, and consent to provide the required information to the allocated social worker. You may be asked to consent to enquiries being undertaken with other agencies such as schools/nurseries/health professionals and employers. The local authority is required to undertake DBS (police) checks in respect of the applicant and any adult members of the household (including the parent) living in the household. You will be asked to provide details of referees in support of your application and the social worker will need to speak to them during the assessment process. The local authority is obliged to complete a full report on the application known as an “Annex A/rule 14 report “. The required contents of this report are set by legal regulations and statutory guidance not by the local authority.

2.4 Applying for an adoption order can have serious financial and practical implications. we do not fund the adoption application on behalf of applicants or pay for their legal advice or representation. The applicant is responsible for any court fees or associated legal costs. The applicant (or any legal representative appointed by them) will be responsible for filing any application and associated documents; the conduct of the application and case in court (including the preparing and filing of any statements), attending court hearings; and may be required to give evidence. Other parties to any adoption proceedings (including the non-resident parent) can seek to oppose the application or may issue/make applications to the court themselves. This can include applications to be joined as parties, for parental responsibility orders, or for child arrangements orders. The court when hearing any adoption application is also required to consider the issue of post-adoption contact. 

2.5 The making of an adoption order also has wider financial implications for the applicant, the parents and the child. Adoption may impact maintenance payments payable in respect of the child, some state benefits and inheritance rights for example. We cannot give you advice in relation to such financial implications and this is a factor families will need to consider carefully in advance and seek independent advice if required.

2.6 In view of the serious nature of adoption and its` lifelong implications for the child and their sense of identity, all applicants will wish to consider the age and understanding of the child concerned before applying to adopt and to consider whether it is appropriate to wait until the child is of sufficient age and understanding to be able to express their own views on the application. If the child is of sufficient age and understanding the local authority, any guardian appointed for the child in the proceedings and the court will consider the child`s views in relation to the adoption. It is highly unlikely that the court would sanction keeping the identity of the child`s biological parent “secret“ from the child and this is a matter that you may need to discuss as a family before progressing.

3 The alternatives to adoption

Parental responsibility agreement/order

3.1 Parental responsibility refers to all of the legal rights and responsibilities that a person can exercise in relation to a child. The child’s mother automatically has parental responsibility for the child. The child’s birth father may acquire parental responsibility in a number of ways for example, by being married to the birth mother, being registered as the father on the birth certificate if the child was born after 1 December 2003, being appointed guardian or by making a parental responsibility agreement or court order.
3.2 A step-parent who is married to or has entered into a registered civil partnership with a parent of the child (and that parent has parental responsibility for the child), may also acquire parental responsibility by applying for a parental responsibility order or agreement for the child. A parental responsibility order/agreement means that the step-parent will share parental responsibility with those who already have parental responsibility. This will mean that the step-parent can make decisions that a parent with parental responsibility would be able to make but the agreement/order does not sever the legal ties between the child and the other birth parent. If the other parent has parental responsibility for the child and is prepared to consent to the step-parent also having parental responsibility for the child, a parental responsibility agreement can be made. If there is no such consent an application will have to be made to court.

Child arrangements order

3.3 Previously known as `residence` or `contact` orders. This is an order that specifies the arrangements concerning with whom the child is to live or spend time with. Such orders can be applied for with the consent of all persons with parental responsibility for the child or by making an application to court if there is no consent. If the order states that the child is to live with a parent and their partner (step-parent), the step-parent will acquire parental responsibility for the child in addition to the parents with parental responsibility, so long as the child arrangements order is in place. If the order specifies arrangements for a child to spend time or have contact with a parent and their partner (step-parent) the court can also make an order specifying that the step-parent will also have parental responsibility for the child for the duration of the order. With a child arrangements order, the step-parent does not share all of the same parental responsibility rights as a parent but it would enable the step-parent to share/have a say in the decision-making for the child with those who also have parental responsibility. Child arrangements orders can be made in some circumstances when the parent/step-parent is not married to each other or in a civil partnership but the child must have lived with the step-parent for 3 years. Child arrangements orders usually last until the child is aged 16 or in some limited circumstances until the child is 18. As with parental responsibility orders/agreements, child arrangements orders do not sever the child’s legal ties with their birth family.

Special guardianship order

3.4 Special guardianship orders also give the “special guardian” (person named in the order) parental responsibility for the child usually until the child is aged 18 (unless the court orders it to end earlier). The principal difference between special guardianship and parental responsibility agreements/orders or child arrangements orders is that the special guardian is able to exercise their parental responsibility to the exclusion of all others with parental responsibility for the duration of the order (save in certain specific circumstances). Special guardianship is usually not appropriate in step-parent adoption cases where the step-parent lives with one of the child`s birth parents since the special guardianship order will mean that the birth parent can no longer exercise parental responsibility for the child for the duration of the order. Special guardianship may however, be an option if the step-parent is caring for the child alone (for example, if the birth parent has died). A special guardianship order cannot be made to birth parents.

Appointing a testamentary guardian in the event of the death of a parent

3.5 It is possible for a parent (s) to appoint a testamentary guardian who can, in some circumstances, assume parental responsibility for the child in the event of the death of the parent(s) making the appointment. This is sometimes referred to as “testamentary guardianship”. If this is something you wish to consider you are advised to seek independent specialist legal advice.

Other orders

3.6 If there is a specific issue concerning the child`s welfare or upbringing that those with parental responsibility for the child are unable to reach an agreement on, an application can be made to the court for a decision relating to that specific issue, or to prohibit a person from doing a specified action in relation to the child. These orders are called `specific issue orders` or `prohibited steps orders` and can be used in some circumstances to resolve disputes about such matters as schooling, medical treatment, participation in religion, etc.

Changing a child`s name

3.7 A child`s surname cannot be legally changed by any person unless all persons with parental responsibility for the child have consented or the court gives permission for the child`s surname to be changed. If all of the relevant persons do consent the name can be changed by making a deed poll/statutory declaration. If it is not possible to obtain all of the relevant consents an application can be made to court. 

3.8 A child`s name can be changed if an adoption order is made. If you are applying to adopt a child you can specify in the relevant section on the adoption application form what name you would like the child to be known by once the adoption order is made. 

No order

3.9 The court or parents may decide that no formal order of the court is required in the best interests of the child. 

Contact issues

3.10 When considering an application for an adoption order the court is obliged to consider any existing or future contact arrangements between the child and the birth parent/any other family members or connected persons and will consider whether any orders/agreements concerning future contact should be made alongside any adoption order in the welfare interests of the child.

4 Applying for an alternative order to adoption

4.1 If a step-parent decides that they wish to apply for a parental responsibility agreement or order, child arrangements order, specific issue or prohibited steps order or to change a child's name, these applications are private law applications and they do not need to notify the local authority in advance. They are advised to seek their own independent legal advice should they wish to proceed.

4.2 If a step-parent considers special guardianship may be appropriate and they wish to apply, they will need to notify the local authority in writing three months in advance of any application (unless they have the court's permission to apply earlier). The local authority will then investigate their suitability to become the child’s special guardian. An application is then made to the court and the local authority writes a report on your suitability. 

5 Adoption order - the application process

5.1 If a decision is made after considering the options and alternatives, that the step-parent still wishes to proceed with an application for an adoption order there are a number of stages in the process to follow which are set out below. It is important to bear in mind that the process may vary on a case-by-case basis and the outcome will be determined by the court based upon what is in the welfare interests of the child, not the adults. The court and local authority are obliged to consider the alternatives to adoption even if the applicant has discounted them. Any fees/costs that are incurred during the process will not be refunded if the adoption order is not ultimately made by the court.

Stage 1 – Ensuring the applicant is eligible to adopt and that the legal requirements for obtaining an adoption order can be met 

5.2 As Explained in paragraph 1.1 above, it is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that they are legally entitled to adopt and that they meet the legal requirements in particular in relation to any issues with domicile/residence or any immigration issues. The local authority will require evidence of this as this is part of their enquiries but cannot resolve issues on the applicant's behalf. Further guidance as to the legal requirements can be found in the guidance notes to the court application forms( see below). Applicants are, however, strongly advised to seek independent legal advice in relation to any eligibility issues or immigration matters in advance of contacting the local authority. Any adoption application may be significantly delayed or may not be able to progress if these matters have not been addressed by the applicant.

Stage 2 - Locating any persons with parental responsibility for the child

5.3 In any application to adopt a child, the court is required to give notice of the application to all persons with parental responsibility for the child and the court may direct that birth fathers who do not have formal legal parental responsibility should be given notice of the application to adopt and for their views to be sought on the application. It is only likely to be in rare cases( such as the father presenting a serious risk) or where it can be evidenced that the other birth parent cannot be found, that the court would consider making an adoption order without all of the relevant persons being notified first and their views being sought. In such cases, the applicant will need to consider applying to court to dispense with the notice requirements. The local authority does not do this on behalf of applicants. 

5.4 It is important therefore, that even before applicants contact their local authority or the court, they obtain as much information as possible concerning the whereabouts and contact details of all persons with parental responsibility for the child and for any birth father without parental responsibility. Local authorities and the courts have limited powers to trace individuals in step-parent adoption applications and your application may be delayed or may not be able to progress if a relevant person cannot be contacted. 

5.5 If applicants are able to contact the birth father/persons with parental responsibility and provided that there would be no risk to any persons/child(ren) concerned in doing so, it is advisable to consult with the birth father in advance of any application to adopt the child in order to obtain full contact details and to establish whether they would be willing to consent to the adoption. 

Stage 3 – contacting the local authority and giving formal notice of the intention to apply to adopt a child

5.6 Once stages 1 and 2 have been completed above and before applying to the court, applicants must contact the relevant department of the local authority to notify them that they are considering adoption. We will take initial details from the applicant and the case will be allocated to a social worker(s). After taking time to consider the preliminary matters listed above and alternatives to adoption, if the applicant still wishes to proceed, the applicant( the step-parent) must give the local authority at least 3 months' notice of their formal intention to apply to the court in due course. This giving of formal notice can be done by letter to the allocated social worker or by email. It is important that the applicant makes it clear that they are indicating their “formal intention to issue court proceedings to apply for adoption “ and to date the notice. Once formal notice has been given the applicant will need to wait for at least a three-month period before sending any adoption application to the court. If the applicant decides at any point to discontinue with the application they must notify the local authority as soon as possible. Considerable time and resources can be wasted if the applicant fails to do so.

5.7 The local authority has a duty to carry out a full assessment of the applicant's and the child's circumstances and the local authority will obtain the views of the birth parents and wider family members(if it is in the child's interests to do so). In due course, if an application is submitted to the court for an adoption order, the social worker(s) will have to file a report (called an “Annex A rule 14” report) with the court setting out the local authority's views on the welfare interests of the child(ren), the suitability of the applicant to adopt and whether the local authority supports the application. The local authority, like the court, is under a duty to consider whether any of the alternatives to adoption would best meet the child's needs.

5.8 During the three months' notice period the social worker(s) will conduct an initial assessment/preliminary investigations in preparation for filing the Annex A/Rule 14 report. This process will include consideration of the alternatives to adoption; background checks such as identity verification and Disclosure and Barring Service checks (criminal records); obtaining references; checks with health and education authorities; consulting with the applicant, the child ( if they are of sufficient age and understanding), the child's parents/persons with parental responsibility/siblings/half-siblings and other family members as applicable. Signed consent forms may be required/or requested for certain enquiries to be undertaken. It is important that all persons cooperate fully with the assessment process and are willing to provide the information necessary to enable the assessments to take place since this will form the basis of any recommendation to the court about the application. The assessment process will usually involve a number of discussions and visits to the homes of those involved from the social worker(s). 

5.9 It is likely that the assessment process and Annex A / Rule 14 report will only be finalised once an application has actually been submitted to the court for an adoption order. If at any stage a decision is made that the applicant does not wish to progress with the application the local authority (and court, if relevant) must be notified as soon as possible as stated above.

5.10 The notice of intention to adopt will expire after two years if no application to adopt is filed with the court.

Stage 4 – The court application

Note - the applicant, not the local authority is responsible for making the application.

(i) The application form

5.11 Once the three months notice period has expired, if the applicant wishes to continue with the application, the applicant must send a completed 'Form A58' application and the required accompanying documents (see below) to an adoption court centre. The Form A58 and guidance notes can be obtained online (see link at the end of this page) or from your local designated family court office (if the applicant resides within North Yorkshire County Council this will be the York family court. Full details can be found on the family court finder website – see link below).

(ii) Serial numbers

5.12 If an applicant does not wish for their identity to be disclosed to the other parties to the application they may apply for a serial number by ticking the relevant box on the A58 application form. 

(iii) What the court will require to issue the application

5.13 Before the application can be issued the court will need the following:

  • completed Form A58 – adoption application form and 2 additional copies (can be photocopies if good quality). One form will need to be completed for each child the applicant wishes to adopt
  • payment of the relevant application fee(s). See the link at the end of this page for the current fee rates or contact your local court for details. In some circumstances, it is possible to apply for a waiver of the fees if an applicant is on a low income. If this is the case the applicant will need to complete a Form EX160 and send this form and supporting evidence to the court along with the adoption application form
  • full original certified birth certificate for each child/or adoption certificate if they have previously been adopted
  • certified copies of any change of name deed/statutory declaration
  • certified copy of a death certificate (if appropriate) if any birth parent is deceased
  • certified copy of any marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate. (Translation of any document is required if issued in a language other than English)
  • copy of any decree absolute or nullity (if appropriate) if the applicant is divorced
  • copy of a form of Photo Identification (for example, driving licence or passport)
  • copy of any court orders granting parental responsibility including maintenance agreements
  • if the birth parent does not consent to the adoption order being made and the applicant is asking the court to dispense with their consent, three copies of a “statement of facts” for instance, a brief written summary of why an application to adopt is being made and the reasons the applicant believes it is in the child's interests for the order to be made

The A58 application form must contain the name(s) (with the correct spelling) it is desired the child(ren) will be known by if an adoption order is made. These should be written in the relevant section of the application form itself. Once a final adoption order has been made the court is unable to change any of the names on the adoption certificate.

5.14 The application form and documents can be sent by post to the appropriate court (advisable to send by signed for delivery due to their sensitive nature) or by hand delivery to the court office. In York Family Court the office is open Monday to Friday between the hours of 10am until 2pm.

6 Adoption court proceedings

(i) Court issues application, gives notice to relevant parties and issues directions

6.1 Once your application has been checked by the administration section at the court, it will be given an issue date and it will be passed on to a court Legal Adviser or Judge for them to make an initial court order known as a “directions order” to progress the case. In some court centres the directions will be made at a court hearing and the parties may be invited to attend and make representations. In some court centres the directions may be given administratively without a formal court hearing. The following directions are likely to be made (this list is a guide only and may vary on a case-by-case basis and in different court centres).

Consideration will be given as to who is required to be given notice of the application. The following persons will be given notice of the application unless the court orders otherwise:

  • all persons with parental responsibility for the child or any legal guardian for the child
  • the local authority to whom written notice of the intention to apply to adopt was given
  • any person in whose favour there is provision for contact with the child
  • the child in specific circumstances
  • any other person the court directs should be given notice for example, father without formal parental responsibility.

Note: if the applicant is seeking any direction/order from the court that a person should not be given notice the applicant will need to notify the court and make the appropriate application at the outset of the application process.

  • fixing a date by which a social worker(s) must file the Annex A Rule 14 report regarding the local authority assessment of the welfare of the child(ren) and the applicant's suitability to adopt.
  • request the appointment of a member of the children and family court advisory and support service (reporting officer) to visit all persons holding parental responsibility for the child (and in some cases birth parents without parental responsibility) to obtain their views on the application and if applicable their consent to the adoption. If it is known at this stage that the application is opposed by a birth parent the court will direct that the child is made a party to the proceedings and that a children and family court advisory and support service (guardian) is appointed to represent their interests.
  • fix a date for the filing of any report from the children and family court advisory and support service reporting officer or guardian if applicable.
  • fix a date for the filing of any other statements or evidence.
  • fix a date for further directions or court hearings or fix a final hearing date or a date when the file will be further reviewed. 
  • excusing the attendance of the child(ren) at any hearing.

(i) The role of the reporting officer (appointed from children and family court advisory and support service) or guardian 

6.2 The role of the reporting officer is to ensure where possible that the consent of the birth parents and any person with parental responsibility to the making of the adoption order, is given unconditionally and with a full understanding of the nature and effect of the order. If consent is given this will be formally recorded in a consent form and the reporting officer will witness the signed consent. The reporting officer should investigate all the circumstances relevant to the parents or guardians giving consent to ensure their rights are protected. It is not always necessary for children and family court advisory and support services to see the child. The reporting officer will be vigilant about factors that might invalidate consent, such as incapacity due to mental ill health or learning disability. 

6.3 As stated above, finding a birth parent whose whereabouts are unknown, or proving to the court that they cannot be found, is the responsibility of the applicant, not the reporting officer or the local authority. However, if any party to the proceedings or the reporting officer is concerned that the applicant has not made sufficient efforts to trace a birth parent or a birth parent cannot be located or identified, the court may give further directions concerning any further efforts to trace the birth parent.

6.4 If the birth parent(s) consent to the adoption application, on completion of the investigations the reporting officer will submit a brief report to the court confirming that, in the opinion of the reporting officer, consent has been given unconditionally and with full understanding. The report will draw attention to any other relevant matters which may be of assistance to the court. The original copy of the signed consent form must be submitted to the court. The parties to the case will not ordinarily receive a copy of this report since it is confidential to the court and cannot be released without an order from the court. The reporting officer will attend all court hearings unless the court directs otherwise.

6.5 If the reporting officer becomes aware that consent is not forthcoming from a birth parent they will notify the court and the court is likely to give further directions. These further directions may include making the child a party to the proceedings and appointing a guardian from the children and family court advisory and support service to provide a fuller welfare report to the court on the case on behalf of the child.

(ii) Filing of the Annex A rule 14 report

6.6 Further to their initial enquiries outlined above (sections 5.7 - 5.8), the local authority-allocated social worker(s) will complete their assessments and will finalise the annex A/rule 14 report and file three copies directly with the court by the date fixed in any directions order. The applicant/parties to the case will not necessarily receive a copy of this report since it is confidential to the court and cannot be disclosed without further order from the court. The local authority will inform the relevant parties of the outcome of their assessment and whether they support the making of an adoption order in the particular case.

(iii) Filing of any further evidence and further court hearings if required

6.7 The parties to the case may be ordered to file further evidence or statements in support of any application they are making including for contact. The local authority does not prepare or file such evidence on behalf of any party. If there are complexities in the case there may have to be further court hearings.

(iv) The final hearing, who may attend?

6.8 The applicant (unless they request that their attendance be excused), all persons with parental responsibility, any other parties to the case, the social worker(s) who prepared the Annex A report, the children and family court advisory and support service reporting officer or guardian and any legal representatives. The attendance of the child(ren) is usually excused from this hearing. The hearing may be before magistrates or a judge. 

What will happen at the hearing?

6.9 This will vary on a case-by-case basis and will depend upon whether the application is being opposed by any other party, whether it is supported by the local authority and whether the reporting officer/guardian (children and family court advisory and support service) has raised any concerns.

6.10 The judge or magistrates will consider the contents of the application, any reports and statements that have been filed with the court and any written consents and may hear evidence or representations from any parties or persons entitled to attend the hearing before considering the relevant legal principles and reaching a decision on whether to make the adoption order. The court will consider whether to make any orders for post-adoption contact if an adoption order is made. 

Celebration hearing

6.11 If a final adoption order has been made, at the conclusion of the final hearing (allowing for any appeal period), the applicant, their birth parent partner, the child(ren) and family members (subject to some limitations) if applicable may be given the option to attend court together for a further informal visit known as a “celebration“ hearing. The hearing is very informal and the purpose of it is to allow families to celebrate the making of an adoption order by visiting the court with the child(ren). The parent whose parental responsibility has been extinguished by the making of the adoption order is not informed of the date of this hearing and would not usually attend. The court will inform you of the arrangements for any celebration hearing and arrangements may vary in different court centres.

7 Issuing of adoption certificate and related matters

7.1 If an adoption order has been made, a copy of the adoption court order will be issued and notice will be given to the relevant parties. It is important to check that all the details on the order/notice, including the child's name, are correct and the court must be notified if there are any errors.

7.2 The court also sends a copy of the order to the adopted children's register and the child's details will be entered on the register. The applicant will then be issued with a new short-form birth certificate for the child in their adopted name. Please note that this will be in a different format to the original birth certificate issued for the child. Applicants are entitled to a free copy of the short form certificate and will be sent details of how to apply for any additional copies. It is possible to order a full form of birth certificate at an additional cost. The processing time from receipt of the adoption order to the issue of the new short-form birth certificate can be a number of weeks. Further details can be found on the GOV website or by contacting the adopted children register. A certificate issued from the adopted children's register replaces any original birth certificate and can be used for most official purposes whenever proof of age or identity is required. The local authority has no involvement in the issuing of any adoption birth certificates and cannot liaise on applicant's behalf in this process.

7.3 In order to obtain a passport under the new adoptive name for a child under 16 the passport office may require a full form certificate. Applicants are advised to contact the passport office for further information and to check the requirements. It is advisable not to make any travel plans until the required documentation to enable you to apply for the child's passport has been received.

8 The effect of the adoption order

8.1 For all legal purposes once the adoption order is made the new adoptive parent is considered to be a legal parent for the child along with their partner birth parent and they will have parental responsibility for them. The making of the adoption order does affect the child's entitlement to inheritance and maintenance claims and the implications of this will need to be considered as set out above in “matters to consider first”. The child's registered details with all relevant agencies such as schools, healthcare providers, banks/financial institutions, passport office, etc. will need to be amended. You may also wish to seek advice concerning the impact that the adoption may have on the provisions of any will you have already made/or to consider whether you may need to make a new will in light of the adoption.

8.2 Please ensure that all of the original certificates are retained for future use as the originals cannot be replaced.

9 Cases involving an international element

9.1 Special provisions apply in the case of a British citizen who wishes to adopt a child who is not a British citizen (including a step-parent). Adoption in such cases can affect the child's citizenship and their original nationality status and additional requirements may apply in relation to notifying the home office. A different application form may have to be used in cases involving an international element. If there is an international element to your application you should take independent legal advice on your position before deciding whether or not to adopt and before contacting the local authority.

10 Useful links

Additional information about non-agency (or step-parent adoptions)

Finding a solicitor

Documents and important pages