Adoption for same sex couples
I’m a single gay man/woman and want to adopt a child. How do I start the adoption process?
Being single is not a barrier to adoption; indeed some children thrive with the undivided attention of one parent, although it can be very helpful to have support from extended family and work. With an Adoption Order the child legally becomes a member of the new family with either one or two parents by reassigning the legal parental rights from birth to adoptive parents. There are three distinct types of adoption:
- Adopting a child looked after by the local authority
- Inter-country adoption
- Adopting a step-child of a partner or civil partner
There are separate processes for each, and the complexities mean that tailored legal advice is necessary. For adoptions from overseas, or a child looked after by the local authority, the first step is to make contact with your local authority as they need to approve you as a suitable adoptive parent.
Will my application be looked on more favourably if I’m in a long-term relationship, or a civil partnership, or a marriage?
The application itself should not be prejudiced by virtue of being made by a single person, however, there are the practicalities to address of the day to day care which can be assisted greatly by the support of either a partner or extended family.
Rather than adopting, I’d like a surrogate to carry the child. What legalities should I take into consideration in the UK and/or abroad?
Under English law, Parental Orders, which are generally required for surrogacy, are not available to single people. However, 2015/16 has seen movement in this area. The cases of Re Z (A child)  and Re Z (A child) (No.2)  led to a declaration being made that the section in the legislation governing this area is incompatible with certain human rights. This may result in changes being made in this area of law in the near future.
Surrogacy in the UK is legal, but subject to restrictions. Agreements are not legally binding as they are said to be against ‘public policy’. One cannot pay for a woman to act as surrogate - any agreement can only cover their expenses. The law enables a couple to apply for a Parental Order which would extinguish the legal status of the surrogate mother and her husband or civil partner. One or both of the couple must be domiciled in part of the UK, which can create practical problems for international couples. There is a six month deadline to make applications for Parental Orders, and that deadline is absolute and cannot be extended.
In relation to surrogacy abroad – the English legal position is complex and will not automatically recognise a foreign birth certificate which names you as parent. There is no international unification of surrogacy law. There is a danger that without tailored legal advice you could find that a child is not entitled to enter the UK with you.
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