Adopting Children with Complex Needs

Did you know children with more complex needs wait longer to be adopted?

Adopting children with complex needs

Children with special needs are first and foremost, just children. Little human beings that have been through a lot in their lives and need adults that can step up and advocate for them, nurture them, support them (through the rough and the smooth), and ultimately let them be children and experience all the wonderful things children should experience.

Here at Adoption West, we are always looking for adoptive parents who are willing to adopt children with additional needs. Placing disabled children or those with special needs with families can be challenging, but for adoptive and foster parents, it’s ultimately a very rewarding experience.

Across the United Kingdom, children with special needs are waiting to be chosen by committed families. When considering the adoption of a child with special needs, it is important to ask yourself honestly what medical, physical, or behavioural conditions you are prepared to handle; whether you have the resources to cover your child’s needs; and whether your community has the medical and support resources available to assist you and your child.

Adopted children with additional needs often require specialist additional support. This will be identified at the time of adoption, but is likely to change over time. Adoption West are committed to supporting the children we place and the children that live within the local authorities we represent, you can find out more about this support offer here.

We encourage all potential parents to fully research as many special needs as possible—some which might originally seem daunting might not be so intimidating after talking with other families who have adopted children with the same need.
We are here to support you on this journey, all the way, please get in touch.


The adoption process

Our target time from the time you make your formal application to the time you are approved as an adopter is six months, but this can vary depending on your circumstances.

little girl dressed as superhero

Pre-Stage 1

This starts when you are ready, you are welcome to view our Information Videos at any point and then book onto one of our Q&A sessions using the link provided.

The Q&A sessions allow you to have your questions answered and we may also ask some of you. At the end of the session, you will be directed to complete Initial Enquiry form, if you wish to. Which will be followed up by a call from one of or experienced and friendly team.

  1. View Information Videos
  2. Attend Q&A Session (link to EventBrite)
  3. Complete Initial Enquiry with an Adoption West worker

Work book

You will be given a work book to complete at home. The work book is designed to help you look closely at your background and better understand adoption in order to prepare you. The adoption team are available to support you through this, and will be in regular contact.

Preparation course

Throughout Stage One and Two of the process, you will be invited to attend a four-day preparation course; applicants are required to attend every session and to participate fully throughout. The preparation course is an interactive course, with personal experiences of adopters and children in care.  We cover subjects such as child development, how our own experiences and relationships influence our parenting, contact with birth families, telling your child about adoption and understanding and managing behaviour.

We will encourage regular opportunities to discuss any issues that may arise. We hope this helps prepare you for the journey ahead.

Allocation of a social worker/home visit

At the beginning of Stage One, you will be allocated a named social worker who will arrange a time to visit you at home. This provides both parties with an opportunity to look further at your experiences, what you can offer an adopted child, and for you to ask any questions you may have. At the end of Stage One you will be invited to a review meeting. This meeting will review all the information, workbooks and checks. A decision about proceeding onto Stage Two will then be made.


The assessment process consists of a number of home visits by your adoption social worker to assess whether adoption is right for you and what kind of children you would be best matched to. This is a demanding and challenging process that requires applicants to consider their own development and beliefs and how they could meet the needs of an adopted child. At the end of the assessment your social worker produces a Prospective Adopter’s Report (PAR), which includes the opportunity for you to add your own contributions.

Adoption panel

Your full application report is presented to Adoption Panel for consideration. The Panel is made-up of social workers, County Councillors, medical and independent people, who may have personal experience of adoption. You are invited to attend this meeting with your social worker. In the exceptional circumstance that the Adoption Panel recommends that adoption is not right for you at this time, you can discuss with your social worker what action you can take. This can include your right to ask for the Independent Review Mechanism to consider your case. Your social worker will explain the process and the options open to you.

After Approval

Once you are approved as an adopter we will begin the matching process to ensure the best match for you and a child/ren. We try to place children with prospective adoptive families as soon as possible within the agreed Statutory Timescales and National Minimum Standards for adoption, but there are no set rules as to how long you may have to wait for a child. However, we will keep you updated on a monthly basis during the waiting process.

“We are always being told that we have done a wonderful thing adopting her but we see it as the opposite, she has done a wonderful thing for us, she has made our lives complete and taught us so much, how to be patient, how to be determined and never give up,  and how to laugh until we cry. But, most importantly how to be a family, to fight for each other, and to love each other unconditionally.”

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Next Steps

We hope you can find all the information you are looking for here on the site, but please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

To begin your adoption journey please view our Information Videos