With the availability of abortion, contraception and society’s acceptance of single motherhood, young babies are now rarely relinquished for adoption particularly as compared to the situation 50 years ago.
The traditional adoptive family has also changed as reforms in adoption law mean that not only married couples but also single people, unmarried and same sex couples can adopt. With virtually all the uncertainty removed, the adoptive family can now devote themselves to getting to know the new member of their family and giving the child the secure and loving permanent family that has until then been denied to them.
First Steps to Adoption
A family interested in adoption is likely to start their journey by contacting their local authority adoption unit or by responding to a local authority advert seeking adoptive families for the children in their care or for a specific child available for adoption. Many of the children will be sibling groups, children with special needs or children with troubled early childhoods.
The young babies available for adoption may well have been removed from parents with drug or alcohol problems. This alone can dissuade families from considering adoption. However, families who have been through the assessment process frequently report how interesting and constructive they have found it, giving them many skills for bringing up their future children and an understanding of parenthood, which would be helpful for any family and not just for adopters. Once assessed as suitable adopters, the adoption agency will then help the family find the right child for them.
Supporting Adoptive Parents
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 has also brought in an adoption support package to help the adoptive family in meeting their adopted child’s needs. This may be in the form of a payment of a regular adoption allowance which opens the door to adoption to families of all means. The adoption support package can also include the provision of professional advice and support with birth family contact.
Continuing contact between a child and their birth family is another change encouraged by the 2002 Act. For older children who have continuing relationships with their birth families, birth family contact may well be important. Contact may be ‘direct’ contact with regular or occasional meetings with birth family members, or indirect by the exchange of letters and photographs through the adoption agency’s letterbox contact service. If contact with birth parents is not thought to be in the child’s best interests, there may be the possibility of contact between a child and their siblings or grandparents.
During the adoption assessment, prospective adopters will learn how they can provide a settled secure home to children and where this is considered to be in the child’s best interest, plus how to manage some form of contact for the child with their birth families. Many adoptive families bear witness to the joy and satisfaction that adoption has brought to both the children and adults involved.
Many adoptive families bear witness to the joy and satisfaction that adoption has brought to both the children and adults involved. It provides an opportunity of family life to children who would not otherwise have had it and puts the adults on a journey to parenthood which may be different than that originally planned but one which may in many ways, be more fulfilling.
Naomi Angell – specializes in children’s law and has particular expertise in international and domestic adoption, children’s cases with an immigration interface, child protection and alternative reproduction cases, such as surrogacy. She chairs the adoption panel of a national adoption agency and has been closely involved in the parliamentary process of the recent new adoption legislation. She is a Consultant at Osbornes and qualified as a solicitor in 1973.
Types of Adoption
When you wish to add a child to your family by way of adoption the process can be very confusing. For example, many people are unaware of the fact that there are different types of adoption which you can choose from in the selection of the child.
Open vs Closed Adoption
The two choices of adoption are the open adoption and closed adoption. An open adoption is where the adoptive parents and the birth parents meet prior to the adoption finalizing. Generally contact is made prior to the adoption but also both parents maintain contact throughout the childs life. This provides a way for the birth parents to stay informed about their birth child and maintain contact with the whole family.
The alternative choice is a closed adoption where both the adoptive and birth parents have not met and do not know who each other is. The adopted child will also be unaware of who the actual birth parents are. This is because the file is sealed in a closed adoption. Closed adoption frequently occurs with international adoptions where adoptive parents adopt their child from another country.