The Adoption Act

1. Make the child’s welfare paramount

The Act makes the child’s welfare the paramount consideration in all the decisions by courts and adoption agencies relating to their adoption, including whether to dispense with a parent’s consent to adoption. It also introduces the use of the ‘welfare checklist’ into adoption work, bringing the Act into line with the Children Act 1989.

2. Highlights the need to prevent delay

The Act emphasises the need to avoid undue delay in planning for permanence and adoption when children cannot be cared for by their own birth family.

3. Promotes the importance of planning for permanence

The Act widens the options for permanence by extending residence orders to 18 years where appropriate and by introducing a new permanence option called special guardianship.

4. Widens the range of potential adoptive parents

The Act widens the range of prospective adopters by allowing unmarried couples (including same-sex couples) to adopt jointly.

5. Takes a lifelong view of adoption

The Act acknowledges the lifelong impact of adoption. It sets out a new and more consistent approach to the release of sensitive and identifying information held in adoption records.

The Act aims to encourage more people to adopt by placing a duty on local authorities to ensure that the support and financial assistance needed is available to people affected by adoption.