Your guide to adoption

What is adoption?

Put simply; adoption occurs when an adult takes over the responsibility for raising a child until they become an adult even though they are not the biological parent. Of course, some people do this without ever taking on the legal responsibilities of becoming an adoptive parent. This is referred to as step-parenting. However, with full, legal adoption, the adult takes over all of the functions of the parent and maintains legal rights over the child in just the same way as a biological parent. Once a child has been adopted, the biological parents lose these legal rights.

 How does adoption affect the child?

 The degree to which adoption impacts on children differs according to the age they are when this happens. Although all circumstances are individual, the impact tends to be greater when the child is older, especially if the adoptive parent or parents were not known to them before. Nevertheless, toddlers and babies are also affected because they may start to wonder about their biological parents as they get older. Most trauma tends to be associated with children who are not told they have been adopted but discover the truth as they get older.

What is the difference between adoption and fostering?

Adoption is a legal status that places a child in the hands of an adult that is much the same as one who is being brought up by their biological parents. As such, it is meant to be a permanent situation which cannot be broken unless there are extreme circumstances, such as the child needing to be taken into care. Fostering, on the other hand, is a temporary arrangement whereby a child is placed into the care of an adult, usually by the state, so that they can be looked after for a limited period only.

What is an open adoption?

Open adoption is not possible in all jurisdictions around the world. That said, where it is possible, it means that the child will be able to communicate and even have access to their birth family even though they live with their adoptive ones. In open adoption, so-called filial ties are not broken in the way that happens in most cases of adoption. Sometimes open adoption is a legal arrangement between the birth parents and the adoptive ones and, in others, it is a loose agreement which can, in some circumstances, be rescinded.

Is adoption by same-sex couples possible?

In the past, same-sex couples were not able to adopt. However, as liberal attitudes to the LGBT community have grown, so same-sex adoption has become increasingly normalised. It is now possible for same-sex couples to adopt a child in about 25 countries. However, in some parts of the world, it is still against the law, even if only one or other of the couple becomes the legally adoptive parent.

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