Can you put yourself up for adoption?

Can you put yourself up for adoption?

The most searched-for question on Google around the topic of adoption is ‘can you put yourself up for adoption?’

There’s every chance that many of these searches are coming from angsty teenagers annoyed at their parents after a small quarrel, but also a chance that it’s a question asked by children who face neglect, abuse, or an unstable home environment.

The answer to this question is complicated – as much of family law is – and children themselves tend to have little to do with their own guardianship.

If a child speaks to a teacher or social worker about serious concerns with their living situation, this may start the process of the child being removed from the parental home to go into care or be placed with a new legal guardian.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk for Adoption Month, Dr John Simmons, OBE, Director of Policy, Research and Development at adoption and fostering academy CoramBAAF explains it’s not solely up to the child, and there are caveats.

‘It will be the adults – local authorities, the courts and prospective adopters that make the plan and act on that plan – not the child. And even when children are older, the possibility of being adopted legally expires at 18’ says Dr Simmonds.

These decisions are difficult and involve a number of factors. Firstly it needs to be established whether the child is actually being neglected, abused, or otherwise mistreated (rather than expressing a want to be looked after someone else in the short-term).

Dr Simmonds continues: ‘Children can sometimes be very unhappy and either on the spur of the moment or maybe in a more considered way express a view that they want to be cared for by somebody else.

‘They should, of course, be listened to. But many children who say this in frustration do not mean it when time and emotions pass.’

In cases where there are more serious concerns, authorities should be contacted and they will assess the situation to work out the best next steps.

Dr Simmonds said: ‘If you are under 18 and experiencing serious neglect or abuse, you should tell somebody you trust or contact your local authority social services department.

‘As adults we need to listen to what children and young people say to us and explore why they are unhappy but we must also be aware of the serious reasons behind adoption so not to trivialise the neglect and abuse some children experience.’

In cases where the child is not being mistreated, but want to live with a relative or a different parent after a divorce, it will be up to the adults involved to decide whether to progress with an official adoption.

The parents or current legal guardian(s) of the child will need to effectively give up their legal right to care for the child in court, with the new guardian starting the process of adopting the child.

Or, if the parents believe it is in the child’s best interests not to be in their care but they do not have a prospective adopter in mind, they can give up their right to care for the child and the child will be placed in the care of the authorities.

Older children or teenagers under 18 could potentially explore prospects for emancipation. This would legally look like a ‘divorce’ from parents or guardians and the child. It would mean the child has no right to parental support and is given responsibility to look after their own affairs.

However, the courts in the UK take these issues on a case-by-case basis, and emancipation is often only considered in extreme cases (for example where young people wish to have control over medical issues or has a substantial income that they’d prefer to be personally responsible for).

Adoption and family law are extremely complex issues that are always unique to the family. As mentioned previously, ascertaining the reason behind the child’s wishes to be adopted should come first.

From there, the adults involved (both authorities and parents or guardians) should work together to do what’s in the best interests of the child.

Adoption Month

Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.

For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.

We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.

If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected]

  • Why we’re talking about adoption this month
  • How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
  • The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
  • How long does it take to adopt a child in the UK
  • Adoption myths that could be stopping you from starting a family
  • How to tell your child they are adopted 

Visit our Adoption Month page for more.

Do you have a story you’d like to share?

Get in touch at [email protected]

Adoption Month

Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.

For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.

We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.

If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected]

  • Why we’re talking about adoption this month
  • How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
  • The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
  • How long does it take to adopt a child in the UK
  • Adoption myths that could be stopping you from starting a family
  • How to tell your child they are adopted 

Visit our Adoption Month page for more.

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