"We are thinking about adopting but we aren't married - what do we need to know?"

Whether you are in a heterosexual or same sex-relationship, adoption may be an option you wish to consider. You do not have to be married to be able to adopt together, as long as you are in an enduring family relationship. Gay and lesbian couples have been able to apply for adoption jointly in England and Wales since December 2005 and it is unlawful for adoption agencies in England and Wales to discriminate on the basis of sexuality. 

If you have been having fertility treatment, you are normally expected to have drawn a clear line from the end of your fertility treatment.  For example, most UK agencies will not assess you for adoption if you are still having fertility treatment and will expect you to wait a period of time before applying for adoption (usually 6-12 months after the end of fertility treatment).

Things are a little more complicated if you are looking to adopt a child from another country.  As with adopting within the UK, you need to be approved as a suitable prospective adopter by an adoption agency authorised to deal with inter-country adoptions.  However, you will also need to adhere to the adoption eligibility requirements of the country you are looking to adopt from.  There is no global consensus about same-sex parenting and so it can be, practically, more  difficult for UK same-sex couples to adopt from overseas.

Expert legal advice

For more information or an informal chat about your next steps, contact us on 0344 326 0450 or email us.

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