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Can biological parents regain custody of their child after adoption?

Adopting a child is a life-changing event for both the child and their new parents, however, the decision to give your child up for adoption is equally monumental, and not one that can be taken lightly.

There are many reasons why someone might put their child up for adoption – they may not feel emotionally, physically or financially ready to have a baby, they might not have a strong support network or there could be other issues at play.

Some may find themselves pregnant at a difficult point in their lives so the decision feels like the best one at the time.

When the child is adopted, the biological parent relinquishes all responsibility and legal rights, but what happens if they later want to take the child back?

Can biological parents regain custody of their child after adoption?

Adoption is a permanent decision, so once a child is adopted, all custodial rights are transferred to their adoptive parents.

Custody cannot be regained by the child’s biological parents.

Can biological parents stay in contact with their child after adoption?

You may be able to stay in contact with your child after they are adopted, depending on their needs.

In most cases, the level of contact will be discussed during the adoption process and will vary depending on what is deemed best for the child.

Biological family – including parents or grandparents – may stay in contact through face-to-face meetings, phone calls, or by letter.

There is no legal requirement for this, but 2019 research from Adoption UK showed that 84% of adoptive families had signed an agreement for ongoing indirect contact (such as letterbox), and a further quarter have direct contact with birth family members (in most cases, siblings).

If you are thinking about putting your child up for adoption, you’ll need to speak to an adoption or voluntary agency who will help you understand if it is the right decision for you.

In most cases, you will work with them, a social worker and local authorities to work out your next steps. They can also direct you to further support.

Once you are sure this is the right thing to do, the courts will make the arrangement final with an adoption court order.

This document will give new parents all legal rights and responsibilities and cannot be undone.

Your baby must be at least six weeks old before you make a final decision.

Whatever your reason, remember that it’s your choice to decide what you want to do.

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Adoption Month

Adoption Month is a month-long series covering all aspects of adoption.

For the next four weeks, which includes National Adoption Week from October 14-19, we will be speaking to people who have been affected by adoption in some way, from those who chose to welcome someone else’s child into their family to others who were that child.

We’ll also be talking to experts in the field and answering as many questions as possible associated with adoption, as well as offering invaluable advice along the way.

If you have a story to tell or want to share any of your own advice please do get in touch at [email protected]

  • Why we’re talking about adoption this month
  • How to adopt a child – from how long it takes to how you can prepare
  • The most Googled questions on adoption, answered
  • How long does it take to adopt a child in the UK
  • Adoption myths that could be stopping you from starting a family
  • How to tell your child they are adopted 

Visit our Adoption Month page for more.

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