Here are the stages that we went through while adopting our son through stepparent adoption. I thought that it would be helpful to create a clear map of what happens during the process. This process took us just over two years.
1. INFORMATION EVENING. You call your regional adoption team and attend the next information session regarding stepparent adoption. Contact numbers can be found on the HSE website. See my post for more information.
2. APPLICATION PACK. If you want to proceed with the adoption application you must request an application pack in writing. You will be given details of this at the information evening. Check my post on the application pack for more information. If the adoptive father’s name is on the birth certificate then you have to remove his name before proceeding with your application.
3. INFORMING THE BIRTH FATHER&CONSENT. When your application pack has been completed, you will then be placed on a waiting list to be allocated a social worker. This social worker will work with you to obtain notification or consent from the birth father depending on your circumstances. You can skip the waiting period if you can get consent yourself. You can read about our experience of this here
4. HOME VISITS WITH A SOCIAL WORKER. Once you receive the necessary papers from the biological father you are then placed on a waiting list to be allocated another social worker. This person will visit your home up to six times and assess your suitability for adopting your child. There are joint, individual and family interviews. I have written about our experience of home visits here. Depending on the age of the child they may also be interviewed separately regarding their views on the adoption. We were unhappy with the waiting period we were given to be allocated a social worker, and once we complained we were transferred to an independent agency. You can read more about this here
5. HSE PANEL. Once the home visits are completed the social worker will write up a report regarding your suitability to adopt. They will present their report to a panel consisting of a psychologist, a healthcare professional, an adoptive parent, someone who has been adopted, a regional adoption officer and more. Each person present will then have to decide to give a positive or negative recommendation to the Adoption Authority regarding your application. The outcome of this vote will then be forward to the AA. The panel can ask the social worker questions regarding your case. You are entitled to be present for the panel. I wrote about our experience of the panel here.
6. LETTER OF ELIGIBILITY AND SUITABILITY. The adoption authority will receive and review the recommendation made by the panel. If they are satisfied they will then send you a letter of suitability and eligibility to adopt. This letter is more relevant to those adopting a child outside their own family as it is valid for two years before you must repeat the process. For us, this letter didn’t give us a definitive answer regarding the outcome of our application. We had to wait for the next step.
7. ADOPTION HEARING. Finally the Adoption Authority will send you a date for your adoption hearing. This means that your application has been successful and on this day the stepparent adoption will be made legal. Both parents and the child in question must attend. I wrote about our adoption hearing here