Non-Agency Partner Adoption

What is a Non-Agency Partner Adoption (NAPA)?

Previously known as Step Parent Adoption. 

Adoption offers the child a legally permanent relationship with the adoptive parent which they will have all of his/her life. It means that the resident birth parent and their partner will share parental responsibility for the child. There is no automatic right to adoption and it is not appropriate for every child in step families. The court’s decision is made based on the best interest of the child.

The local authority where the child resides is normally responsible for the assessment of every family that proposes a non-agency adoption, and prepares a report for the court of their findings. A social worker will make several visits to a family and complete various checks. In your area the local authority
commissions Adoption West to undertake this work.

An adoption order severs the legal relationship between the child and the non-resident birth parent.

Find out more about NAPAs

You can make an application to the court for a partner adoption order if all the following criteria are applicable:
• The applicant is 21 or over
• The applicant is married to the birth parent, or has been cohabiting with the birth parent for at least two years
• The applicant resides in the British Isles or has been habitually resident here for at least a year
• The applicant has been continually living with the child for at least 6 months
• The applicant has notified the local authority in writing of his/her intention to make an application for an adoption order at least 3 months before
submitting an application to the court
• The child is not yet 18 (although the court can make an order up to the day before the child’s 19th birthday providing the application was made prior to the child’s 18th birthday)

Child’s best interest
Adoption West have a duty to ensure that adoption is in your child’s best Interest. The court will need to establish that adoption will be best for the child throughout his/her life. The assessment process will involve the child being seen alone, it is therefore essential that the child knows the factual details about his/her origins and relationships within the family. It is beneficial if the child is able to understand the implications of their adoption and has knowledge of his/her birth history. It is therefore preferable if children are over the age of five, before considering adoption, but each case will be considered on its own merits regardless of age.

If the child has not yet been told about his/her birth history, we may be able to help with ideas of how to do this. It is important that the child has a record of his/her early life, including photographs, documents, mementoes and details of significant people in his/her life. A special box/folder or photo album can be used for this purpose.

The court will require evidence of a child’s relationship with the applicant in determining the applicant’s suitability in a family relationship. The requirement applies if you are married, have entered into a civil partnership or, are living as partners in an enduring family relationship.

Adoption West define this as a relationship that has lasted at least two years. The applicant must have lived within the same household as the child for at least 6 months preceding a “letter of intent to adopt”.

There is a legal duty for the assessing social worker to interview both birth parents, and anyone else who may have parental responsibility for the child and to ascertain their view. To confirm they are in agreement with your application the court will
require written consent of all persons with parental responsibility for the child.

The social worker will also need to see the child’s brothers and sisters and may wish to see other members of the family. It is important to think of significant people in the child’s life, for example: grandparents, aunts and uncles who might be affected if an adoption order is made.

It is important to recognise that partner adoption constitutes a loss for the child of legal relationships with the extended family of the non-resident birth parent. If the whereabouts of the non-resident birth parent is not known, the court will expect all reasonable efforts to be made to contact that parent to inform them of the application. “If the non-resident birth parent does not consent to the adoption the court will need to be satisfied, where they have parental responsibility that their consent should be dispensed with and, in any case, that it is appropriate to make the adoption order. This will mean a careful consideration of all the circumstances.”

If the child’s non-resident parent is not in agreement with the plan for adoption, you may wish to obtain legal advice from a solicitor experienced in adoption matters. is a website which will enable you to locate solicitors specialising in child care law.

Even if the non-resident birth parent does not have parental responsibility, he/she will still need to be contacted. Information about their life, family, health, education and employment are all important to record as well as their wishes and feelings about the proposed adoption. If the non-resident birth parent is deceased, the court will require a copy of the death certificate. The social worker may want to interview the extended members of the deceased parent.

NB: The courts make it quite clear that the decision to sever the relationship between parent and child is made only when there is evidence that this is in the child’s best interest.

The social worker will ask about contact arrangements in place for the child, and whether financial maintenance was paid by the non-resident birth parent

The local authority has a duty to carry out checks as to the applicant’s suitability and will make contact with various agencies, including police probation and health departments. A DBS will be required for the applicant and anyone aged 18+ years in the household. The child’s school and professional individual’s, who may be involved, will also be contacted.

Adoption West will require you to supply the names and addresses of two referees, who should be people who know you well, and can comment on your parenting of the child. One of your personal referees can be a relative, preferably of your partner.

If you live in the Adoption West area make your enquiry to your local Adoption West Office (see Contact Us). Adoption West will then assesses your suitability to become the child’s adoptive parent and the appropriateness of adoption. You will be required to give the local authority at least three months written notice of your intention to apply to the courts.

You make an application to court: cost £183 per application
The local authority submits a report to the court on your suitability and the appropriateness of adoption.
The court considers your application and the adoption agency’s report and makes a decision.

The social worker assessing your family situation will want to meet with each individual: the applicant, the birth parent, the child, and all other significant adults and children in the child’s life. Adoption is a very important step in the life of a child and the adoption application should be made at the right time for the child. The court requires a detailed report about each person within the family and how the individuals relate to one another.

The social worker will discuss with you the recommendation in the report.

When the adoption agency receives the written notice of an application, it has to assess and prepare a report to the court about the suitability of the person applying to be an adoptive parent. The report will be compiled by a qualified social worker with experience in adoption case work.

If the applicant or the resident birth parent is British, an adoption order will have the effect of conferring British citizenship on the child.

In cases where there may be issues around immigration status or nationally, the Secretary of State will be in formed of the proceedings, in case they should want to become a party to the proceedings.

The report must include:
• Information about the child who is the subject of the application
• Information about the child’s family
• The wishes and feelings of the child and others
• Information about the prospective adoptive parent
• Information about the agency that compiled the report
• The implication of making an adoption order for the people involved
• The relative merits of adoption and other orders
• A recommendation regarding adoption
• A recommendation regarding contact

Court Ruling
The court will consider the adoption application, and will check whether to grant an adoption or any other order. The court will make the decision
which it believes is in the best interest of the child.

If an adoption order is made the child will be issued with an adoption certificate stating the same name of the resident parent and the adoptive parent as being the parents of the child. The adopted person can apply for a copy of their original birth certificate when he/she reaches 18 and can apply to access their adoption records through the adoption support services in the local authority where they reside.

Please note:
If a adoption is the most appropriate way forward, you will need to have the following documents (where applicable) available when applying to the court:

  1. Child’s certified copy of original birth certificate (not returned)
  2. Certified copy of marriage certificate in respect of the applicant and resident birth parent (returned)
  3. Documents relating to previous marriages –Decree Absolute
  4. Change of name by deed poll
  5. Documents relating to immigration status

There are alternatives to adoption which may more appropriately secure the child’s relationships within the family. A step parent who is married to the resident birth parent can acquire parental responsibility by entering into a formal agreement with those with parental responsibility, or by applying to the court for a parental responsibility order, or a child arrangement order. The court therefore has a number of options at its disposal:
• No order principle
• Change of Surname
• Parental responsibility agreement
• Parental responsibility order
• Child arrangement order

If you are considering other options, we recommend you seek legal advice.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch today.
We are a very friendly, approachable team and we’ll do our best to help.
Phone number for all enquiries 03303 550 333