Adopting a family member | Oxfordshire County Council

Adopting a family member

Sometimes a child may be adopted by relatives or a close family friend.

girl with pigtails

Family and friends care is when either relatives or a close family friend fosters a child or children known to them. This can be a very good solution for them if their own family are unable to take care of them.

It is our aim to return all children to the care of their birth parents, wherever possible, but if this is not an option then family and friends may provide the next best thing for their future. The processes can seem complicated but we hope this information will help you to understand more. If you wish to discuss this with us please contact the Adoption Service via the online form or call 0800 7835724.

If the child is looked after by the local authority

If the child is currently in care then your application to look after the child will be carefully assessed.

You will be asked to complete an application and we will carry out all the necessary checks. Your doctor will be asked to provide medical information about you. A social worker will visit you and explore all the aspects of your ability to meet the needs of the child and make a report to the courts about your suitability.

If the child is not looked after by the local authority

You can apply to the court for a child arrangement order, special guardianship or to adopt the child. You can only apply to adopt if you are a close relative of the child. The courts will ask us to prepare a full report to see if this will be in the best interests of the child.

Legal options on family and friends care

It is important that anyone who cares permanently for a child has legal rights and responsibilities for that child. There are a number of options which you may wish to consider.

Child arrangement order

This is where the carer shares all aspects of parental responsibility with the birth parent or birth parents. This order lasts until a child is 16 or 18 years old, and the carers must share decision making for the child with the birth parent/s. The birth parents can go back to court to challenge the order.

This order works best when the carers have a good relationship with the birth parent of the child and can make these joint decisions in the best interest of the child. It is expected that the child will continue to have contact with the birth parent/s.

Special guardianship order

This order intends to give the permanent carers for a child, the opportunity to make day to day decisions about the child whilst still retaining shared parental responsibility with the birth parents. The order lasts until the child is 18 years old and cannot be challenged by the birth parents without leave of the court. In most cases it is anticipated that the child will continue have some contact with the birth family.

Adoption order

This is the most secure form of permanence for a child where all parental rights and responsibilities are transferred to the adoptive family. Whilst it is important to consider whether the child should continue to have contact with the birth parents this very much depends on the needs of the child.

Last reviewed
04 May 2016

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