Together for Adoption logo

Together for Adoption is a regional agency that integrates five local authorities – Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, St Helens, Warrington and Wigan. Our work involves:

  • Finding families for children who need to be placed for adoption
  • Supporting children and families before, during and after adoption
  • Recruiting and assessing adults to be adopters for our children
  • Support for adopted adults and birth parents.

If you're interested in adopting and would like to find out more, visit Together for Adoption.

Adopting a stepchild

If you are not married to the child’s parent, you need to satisfy the court that you are living as partners in an enduring family relationship. The local authority social worker assessment of your suitability to adopt will consider the stability and permanence of your relationship with your partner.

You need to have been living as a family before applying for an adoption order because the child must also have lived with both of you for at least 6 months.

You can be a same sex couple and do not have to be married or in a civil partnership.

Should we tell the child’s other parent?

Yes, because the court must consider the child’s connection with the other parent, even if there is no current contact. The court will have to consider the child’s whole family network and their relationships with grandparents and other significant people before making an adoption order, not just their current family arrangements.

Should we tell the child?

It is important that the child has an age-appropriate understanding that the stepparent is not their natural parent.  It will be part of the social work assessment to report to court on the child’s level of understanding about their other parent and the child’s views on being adopted.  

Factors to consider

  • The children’s wishes and your partner’s views
  • The views of the other birth parent
  • The implications of ending the legal relationship between the child and one of their parents
  • What you want to achieve: Is it to become the child’s legal parent forever or to share parental responsibility with the child’s parents, while the child is growing up as a child in a stepfamily.

Applying for an adoption order

The court must decide what is best for the child/children. The court must find out if the natural parents agree to the adoption. If they both have Parental Responsibility (PR) for the child, the court will appoint an officer from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) to interview them and witness their formal written consent.

The social worker and the CAFCASS officer will contact the other parent as well as you and the child and make recommendations in a written report to the court.

If a parent does not have PR, the court is not required to have their consent before making an adoption order. However, if this parent has a close connection with their child, it is likely the court will want to find out their views, as well as the child’s.

If the parent with PR does not agree with your application or the CAFCASS officer considers there are special circumstances, the court appoints that officer as a children’s guardian. Their job is to represent the child and make sure the court is informed of the child’s wishes and those of all relatives before making the order.

What are the alternatives to adoption?

The court must look at all the options so you and your partner will need to consider the alternatives. You may wish to consider seeking legal advice prior to completing the enquiry form to confirm if any of the following options is more suitable for your situation.

Parental Responsibility Agreement or Order

A stepparent can get Parental Responsibility (PR) for their stepchild either by agreement or via a court order if you are married to or are the civil partner of the child’s parent.

If your husband, wife or partner is the only person with PR for the child, they can make a formal agreement with you to share PR. If the child’s other parent also has PR, both parents need to agree to let you share PR. You will need form, C(PRA2) which is a Stepparent Parental Responsibility Order. Alternatively, you can apply to any family court for a Parental Responsibility Order.

Child Arrangement Order

This order names the person with whom the child will live. If one of the persons named does not already have PR i.e. the stepparent, the order gives PR to that person. You then share parental responsibility with the child’s parents, although you do not have the same rights as a parent. Neither the parent nor stepparent can change the child’s surname or take them out of the country for more than one month without either the agreement of any other person who has PR or the court’s permission. You cannot appoint a guardian to look after the child if you die. If the order names the stepparent, it can now be made until the child is 18. This means any person wanting to bring the order to an end before the child turns 18 will need the court’s permission to issue an application.

This order gives you, your partner and the child stability and security but not the permanency of an adoption order. To apply for a Child Arrangement Order you need to be married to the child’s parent or in a registered civil partnership or show that the child has lived with you for three years. Otherwise, you need the agreement of any other person who has PR for the child. The court can make orders about contact and how PR will be exercised by you and any other person with PR. In exceptional situations, it can direct that no person may apply to court to change the orders without getting the court’s permission first.

Step parent adoption enquiry

If you are a Wigan resident and would like to find out more about step parent adoption contact the adoption team.

© Wigan Council