The Children’s Service and its involvement
The Children’s Service provides services to promote, safeguard and improve the well-being of children and their families in Jersey.
One of the things it does is to act as the Island’s Adoption Agency. This includes:
- counselling expectant mothers considering adoption for their child
- assessing couples wishing to adopt
- placing children for adoption
- general advice on anything to do with adoption.
What is adoption?
Adoption in Jersey is regulated by the Adoption (Jersey) Law, 1961, as amended.
Adoption provides a permanent new family for children who can’t be with their birth parents. It’s a legal procedure that transfers all the parent’s responsibilities to the adoptive parents.
The adopted child becomes a new member of the adoptive family and they receive the same rights as if they were born into that family. The birth parents of the child lose all rights or responsibilities for the child.
If it is in the child’s best interest, some adopted children keep in contact with their birth family, usually through the Letter Box Service run by the Children’s Service. This is usually arranged and agreed upon during the adoption process, however, keeping the child safe and happy is the first priority. See Contacting Your Birth Parents.
Once an adoption order is made it can’t be changed back, except in very rare circumstances.
Becoming an adopter
At any one time, Jersey has roughly between 80 and 90 children and young people in the care system. Many of the children who initially come into care will go back to their families but some don’t and they may then be considered for adoption.
You can adopt if you are:
- 25 or over (unless adopting a relative)
- in a civil partnership
- a parent already (either through birth or earlier adoption)
- have never been a parent
- an unmarried couple in a long relationship
You will not be discriminated against on the grounds of:
- if you are or are not married
- how much you earn
- whether you own your own home
- whether you have children or not
- your sexuality
- your religion
- your ethnic origin
- any disability
Applicants who are thinking about adopting will need to take part in a thorough training and assessment program, which looks at their suitability to adopt. The process usually takes 6 – 8 months to complete.
For more detail about the assessment process see Applying to Adopt.
If a prospective adopter is approved, at the end of the assessment process they will need to wait to be matched with a child. It is not possible to say how long this might take.
Once a child is matched with a prospective adopter and goes to live with them, they must make a formal notification to the Children’s Service and the Court to say they want to apply for an adoption order. The child must live with them for at least 13 weeks from the date of the notification before the order can be made.
When the prospective adopter is ready to apply, they need to make an appointment with the Registrar, Family Division. The Registrar will explain how to make the application to the Court.
What is a Guardian ad litem
Whenever somebody makes an adoption application in Jersey, the Court appoints a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem or Jersey Family Court Advisory Service (JFCAS) has to write a report which will recommend that an adoption order be made. When they do this, they have to think about what is best for the child.
To help write the report, JFCAS will ask the prospective adopter for two referees and for permission to speak to the child who is to be adopted, other family members, and people like teachers and health workers. It may also be necessary to show that documents that do not come from Jersey or the UK are genuine.
It usually takes the guardian ad litem a minimum of three months from receiving an application to carry out all their checks and make their recommendation.
For more information about JFCAS see Family Court Proceedings.
Making an Adoption Order
The Royal Court sits on Friday mornings to hear adoption applications where no one is objecting to the application. The prospective adopter and the child must attend the hearing and can bring a few people with them, either family or friends but numbers are limited due to space.
The cost of getting an adoption order is paid for by getting Court Stamps from Customer and Local Services, Phillip Le Feuvre House, La Motte Street, St Helier, Jersey, JE4 8PE. Once an adoption order has been made, the adoptive parent can get their adoption certificate from the office of the Superintendent Registrar, 10 Royal Square, St. Helier.
Types of Adoption
- A couple or single person adopts a child that they did not know before. It is most likely that this child has been living with foster carers waiting for an adoptive placement.
- In some cases, a couple or a single person adopts a child who is known to them, due to circumstances that were not expected to happen, for example, the death of the parent.
- Intercountry or overseas adoption is the adoption of a child whose permanent home is outside the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.
- A step-parent adoption is an adoption where a married couple adopts their spouse’s own child born during a previous relationship. In these cases, an agreement has to be sought from the other birth parent before the adoption can be recommended. It is necessary for the couple to prove what attempts have been made to find the other birth parent. A lawyer may be needed to help.
- If the child does not know that they are not the natural child of the couple who wants to apply for the adoption order, and the couple does not want the child to know, JFCAS cannot recommend the adoption.
For further information on see; fostering and adoption.
19-23 La Motte Street,
Telephone: +44 1534 443970
Access to records
For more information on access to birth records for adopted persons living in Jersey and their birth parents, please contact the fostering and adoption team
See also: Birth details, availability