Legal Basis for Adoption

This page sets out information about the legal aspects of adoption.
  1. An adoption order transfers parental responsibility for the child from birth parents and others with parental responsibility permanently and solely to the adopters. The child is deemed to be the child of the adopters as if he or she had been born to them.
  2. Inheritance is from the adopters, not birth family, although this does not prevent bequests being assigned in a birth relative's will.
  3. A child who is adopted can be of any nationality but must be under 18 and unmarried.
  4. Where a child placed for adoption is from overseas, adopters, even if they are relatives, must be approved by the Adoption and Permanency Panel and the decision to approve them must have been ratified by the Agency Decision Maker. The DCSF procedures apply.
  5. In reaching any decision relating to the adoption of a child, a court or the Department shall hold the child's welfare as the paramount consideration.
  6. The wishes and feelings of the child, concerning the placement for adoption, their religious and cultural upbringing and future contact with birth relatives must be ascertained and given due consideration, having regard to his or her age and understanding.
  7. In placing a child for adoption, the Department shall seek to ascertain the wishes and feelings of the parents or guardians (including a father without parental responsibility) as to the religious and cultural upbringing of the child and any future contact arrangements.
  8. The birth mother cannot give her formal (witnessed) consent to placement for adoption until her child is six weeks old, although a child less than 6 weeks old may be placed for adoption with the voluntary agreement of the parent but will remain in a foster placement. If a parent with Parental Responsibility does not agree to adoption, the court may, in certain circumstances, dispense with their agreement.
  9. The Court must be satisfied that:
    • the parent cannot be found, or
    • the parent is incapable of giving consent, or
    • the welfare of the child requires that the consent be dispensed with.
  10. If it appears that the parent is agreeing to the making of an adoption order, the court will appoint a child's guardian from the safeguarder service to interview the parents to ensure their agreement is given unconditionally and with full understanding, and to witness their written agreement and report to the court.
  11. Adoptive applicants must be 18 years of age, except in the case of step-parent adoptions where the mother or father of the child is at least 18 years of age and the step parent is at least 21.
  12. At least one of the adoptive applicants must be domiciled in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
  13. Currently the Guernsey adoption law does not allow joint applications from unmarried couples.
  14. When a child has been placed for adoption by the Department an application cannot be made to the court until the child has lived with the applicants for at least 12 weeks. Where the child has been placed by the Department, any decisions as to the timing of an application would be discussed and agreed at the formal review of placement.
  15. If a child has been placed by the Department and the adopters have made an application to the court for an adoption order, the child becomes a protected child, cannot be removed from the adopters by anyone, even if there is a Community Parenting Order without the leave of the Court. Similar safeguards apply to non-Department applications.
  16. Once an adoption order has been made, the child's birth certificate is replaced by an adoption certificate showing the adopters as the child's parents.
  17. With regards to birth record counselling, on reaching the age of 18, adopted adults have the right to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate. If the adoption order was made before 12/11/75, they must receive counselling before the information is given to them.