Types of adoption

In this section


Intercountry adoption 

The Centre for Adoption logoAdopting a child from another country (intercountry adoption) is only possible if you are eligible to adopt both within the UK and from the relevant country overseas.

If you live in Hillingdon and are interested in adopting a child or children from another country, please contact The Centre for Adoption, who manages our assessment of intercountry adopters.


Special guardianship

If you are a special guardian, you are entitled to request an assessment of your special guardianship order support needs. This will help to identify what type of support you might benefit from and, where appropriate, a Special Guardianship Support Plan will be put in place.

We are responsible for carrying out assessments if:

  • your special guardianship child was placed by us and it is less than 3 years since the order was granted by the court. If it is more than 3 years, please contact the local authority where you live
  • you are a Hillingdon resident and it is more than 3 years since your special guardianship order was granted by the court. If it is less than 3 years, please contact the local authority that placed your child with you

The local authority responsible for placing your child will remain responsible for any financial support (agreed prior to the special guardianship order) and contact arrangements until the child is 18.

If you have any questions about the type of support available to you, contact our adoption team by emailing adoptionteam@hillingdon.gov.uk or calling 01895 277840.


Step-parent adoption

When a step-parent adopts their partner's child:

  • it ends the legal relationship between that child and their other birth parent and the wider family network, such as grandparents
  • the child loses all maintenance and inheritance rights with the birth family, and acquires rights to yours, which may affect inheritance share for any other children you have
  • you permanently become the legal parent of the child and have parental responsibility, which means if you and your partner separate you legally remain the child's parent
  • the child's surname can be changed (unless the court prevents this)

You can apply for a step-parent adoption if you:

  • are aged 21 years or over
  • satisfy the court and the council's social worker, who will complete a report on your suitability to adopt - this applies if you are not married to the child's parent
  • have been living as a family for at least 6 months before applying for an adoption order
  • have consent of the other birth parent*

*If the other birth parent refuses to allow the adoption, under Section 47 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 an adoption order cannot be made unless the court determines that consent isn't required. In making this decision, the court will consider important factors, such as the extent to which the non-consenting birth parent has participated in the child's life (financially, practically and emotionally), the extent to which she or he would be likely to do so in the future and the views of the child.

To find out more about how you may adopt your partner's children, email us at permanenceteam@hillingdon.gov.uk with the following information:

  • full family details, including names, date of births, relationships, address and contact details
  • how long you have lived together as a family
  • the views of all parties (including the birth father and any significant relatives, such as paternal grandparents) on the proposed adoption

What are the rights of the birth parent?

It is not normally possible for a step-parent to adopt their step child if the other birth parent is still an active part of that child's life because the other birth parent's consent would be required. The non-resident birth parent is often unwilling to give up their parental responsibility and legal relationship with their child.

The importance of a child retaining a close relationship with both birth parents is well recognised by both the courts and child development experts. This will take precedence over considerations, such as whether the birth parents were married or not. This is another reason why  step-parent adoption will only be suitable in a limited number of circumstances. The other birth parent will always be contacted as part of the assessment and steps will be taken to trace them even if they have not been an active part of the child's life.

Please note

  • We need to prioritise finding families for children and supporting children whose cases are in court and need priority assessment/s. You may, therefore, be placed on a waiting list for step-parent adoption. 
  • One of our social workers will contact you to arrange a suitable time to meet with you and discuss the process.
  • There are some costs associated with step-parent adoptions; your social worker will go through these with you.

Alternatives to step-parent adoption

The following alternatives to step-parent adoption can also secure the child's place in your family.

  • Parental Responsibility Agreement - a step-parent married to a birth parent may obtain parental responsibility if all those with parental responsibility give consent to the agreement. Read more 
  • Parental Responsibility Order - a court order that specifies that a named person has parental responsibility for a child. Parental responsibility is then shared between the holder and any birth parent who already has parental responsibility (or anyone who has also acquired parental responsibility by way of a court order).
  • Child Arrangement Order - a court order that specifies the name of the person(s) with whom a child is to live. The named person automatically acquires parental responsibility for the child and this is shared with anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child (usually the birth parents). The order lasts until the child reaches the age of 16 or 18.

If you have particular questions relating to your own circumstances, please email us at adoption@coram.org.uk or call 020 7520 0382.

Page last updated: 05 Aug 2020