Step Parent Adoptions

Many people live with children from their partner’s previous relationships, known as stepchildren. You may want to adopt your partner’s child and take full parental responsibility for them. Adoption is a legal process so the courts ask a social worker to interview everyone concerned including:

You and your partner | The child | The child’s other birth parent and their parents.

Adoption may not be right for all step families and not all such families choose to apply to adopt children in the family. If an adoption order is made, all legal links between the child and birth family are cut. The child’s surname is changed. The child will lose all inheritance and maintenance rights from their birth family. You should talk to your child about this decision and consider their feelings. Even quite young children can have a simple understanding of what adoption will mean for them. The court will want to know what they think. They may feel a sense of loss in losing their original surname or the legal relationship they have with their birth family. At Aspire we can advise and guide you through the process of adopting a step child and the information below will help you decide if this is the right thing for you and your family.

Who can apply?

As with any adoption application, there are criteria you must meet when considering applying to adopt your step child.

  • You must be 21 years old or over.
  • You must be married to the resident birth parent, or can satisfy the court that there has been a long-standing family relationship (usually at least a year).
  • You must be a resident of the UK or have been habitually resident for at least a year.
  • You must have continually lived with the child for at least 6 months.
  • The child must be under the age of 18 at the time of the application to Court.

How do I apply?

If you are thinking of applying to the court to adopt your step child, and live in the BCP or Dorset Council areas, contact Aspire Adoption before lodging your application with the court. A social worker from Aspire would be happy to talk to you before you make a definite decision about applying to the court. The court application costs £170 which is non-refundable, even if you then decide not to proceed.

If you then decide to apply to court, you will need to formally notify Aspire Adoption in writing that you are planning to do so. You then have to wait for 3 months from the date of notifying Aspire before the court will accept your application.

We will allocate an adoption social worker to visit you, the child, and the absent parent. The social worker will be asked by the court to find out all about you and your family and will have to write a report for the court containing all of that information. As part of their information gathering, the social worker will complete checks with the police, in the form of DBS checks, with the probation service, the NSPCC, the local authority where you live, education and health.

The Court’s decision

The Court must consider the best interests of the child throughout their life and consider your application along with the report submitted by the social worker. The court may make an Adoption Order, or they may decide that adoption would not be suitable for the child.

They may suggest the following alternative orders:

  • Child Arrangement Order – this is a decision on who the child lives with and has contact with. The person who has a Child Arrangement Order shares parental responsibility with those who already have parental responsibility, usually the birth parent.
  • Specific Issues Order – this is a decision on one area of the child’s future, such as their education.
  • Prohibited Steps Order – this stops someone from doing anything with the child that anyone else with parental responsibility hasn’t agreed to.

Our Assessment Team are happy to help

Available during office hours on 0300 123 9868, email us at, or get in touch below.

Working together to deliver Aspire Adoption Services

Aspire Adoption