So, we have our children Placed with us. That’s the technical term ‘Placed’ – as in they have a Placement Order so they can be Placed with prospective adoptive parents. Yes, that’s technically what we still are. When does that change?
The answer to that varies depending on the age of the children, how settled they are, and what your personal circumstances are. The children need to be Placed for a minimum of 10 weeks before the prospective parents can apply for what is called an Adoption Order. This is when the case goes to court and if successful the prospective parents are given full and ultimate parental responsibility for the children and all previous parents and agencies responsible for them no longer are from a legal perspective. It is at this court hearing that the birth parents can contest the adoption. Many do. If the adoption is contested then the judge will decide whether the parents have a good enough case to be formally heard and if so will take into account what they say, and then decide what is in the best interests of the children. A second hearing will then usually take place to decide if the adoption is to go through.
So, yes we are called Daddy and Dad, and yes we are emotionally our children’s parents, but legally we are not. Not yet.
We have been told that due to our circumstances there should be no reason why we can’t apply for the Adoption Order after the minimum 10 weeks. We have a Review Meeting coming up where an independent person comes and reviews the placement to make sure everything is going as it should and we are getting the support that we need from the adoption agency. It is at this point that we will tell them that we intend to apply for the Adoption Order after the minimum period. Then we are in the hands, and at the mercy, of the family court.
When the adoption goes through the children can take our surname and we legally become a family with all the rights that come with that, as if they had been born into it. All being well this won’t take too long and we will officially and legally be a family before Christmas.
But we are not over all the hurdles yet!