Who Can Adopt

What kind of people are we looking for?

There are many myths surrounding adoption, which we want to dispel. We are looking for individuals, same gender, married or cohabiting couples who can offer love and a caring environment for a child in need of adoption. People who adopt have a range of life experiences, and may be disabled, unemployed or live in rented accommodation. Anyone aged 21 or over can apply for adoption, and there is no upper age limit.

We need people from all walks of life and backgrounds who not only have the commitment, patience, love and energy required, but also have a real understanding of children’s needs. You will need to be able to care for a child where the rewards may not be immediate and some children may need ongoing support into adulthood.

A child needs a lot of attention and care and you will need to be enthusiastic, energetic and able to commit to looking after a child as your own. Adoption is providing a child with somewhere to belong, where they can feel safe, secure and cared for, as part of a family.

FAQs about…

The only restriction on age is a lower age limit in that you have to be at least 21 to adopt. Other than that, the consideration will be your ability to parent a child into adulthood based on your health and the health of a partner if you have one.

Adopters are welcome whether they are single, married or in a long term ‘live in’ relationship. It is usually recommended that if you are in a relationship that you have lived together for at least 1 year prior to starting your adoption journey. Adopted children have often experienced considerable disruption in their lives and ensuring that your situation is stable is an important part of the assessment. Placing a child can challenge any relationship so there would need to be evidence that you have managed a variety of situations together.  We also welcome applications from single people who have support from family, friends or communities.

Adopters are welcome regardless of their sexuality or gender. The same criteria would apply as to heterosexual couples; we would expect the ‘live in’ relationship to have a duration of at least 1 year at point of application and for there to be evidence that it was a stable and enduring relationship.  Adopters may also have transitioned in terms of gender. It would be important that the applicant is established in their new gender and have a secure sense of self prior to application.

Many disabled people have adopted a child successfully. The early part of the process of becoming an adopter will involve all adopters having a medical and the adoption agency would rely on that medical advice alongside consideration of your personal circumstances in determining your ability to consistently and safely parent an adopted child throughout their childhood.

Many people who adopt have medical conditions.  Medical advice will be sought in relation to all medical conditions and the focus of discussion will relate to how well you are able to care for a child throughout childhood,  the sort of support you have from a partner or other close family members or friends if you are unwell and consideration about the long term prognosis of your condition. The focus will be on considering how you can consistently meet the needs of a child throughout their childhood.

Many people have short periods of stress, depression or anxiety in their lives and whilst there would need to be discussion about how this has been managed this is unlikely to prevent you adopting a child. Some people have longer term mental health conditions which are well controlled with medication. There would need to be discussion about this, and we would seek advice from medical professionals in relation to your ability to adopt a child. The main considerations will relate to the frequency with which you are unwell, how that manifests itself and who is there to offer support at such times. The focus for the adoption agency will always be to assess your ability to meet a child’s needs in a consistent way and to consider how the stress of adopting a child will affect your mental health. There may be times when we as the agency,  feels that some one’s mental health is not stable enough to parent an adopted child but that would be considered early on in the process with the input of medical professionals and the people who know you well.

Many adopters who are overweight successfully adopt children, but we do need to be sure that adopters are likely to remain healthy enough to parent a child into adulthood and that the child will have a healthy lifestyle too. This can be a sensitive issue, but it is one we will discuss with you and one that the medical you have will comment upon. Being considerably overweight presents higher than average risks to your long-term health and we would encourage you to actively seek help to lose weight in such cases, but the focus of the discussion will be about your ability to remain physically well and active enough to successfully parent an adopted child into adulthood.

Yes, many adoptive parents have pets and there are known benefits to having pets in a family. The exception would be in relation to dangerous dogs and on rare occasions the number or type of pets in the household may require further consideration. There will be a need to determine that your pet is safe to be around children.

We recommend that at least one adopter has time off work following the placement of a child. A child will need time to build a relationship with their new family and it will take time for them to feel safe and secure. It is difficult to say how long this will take but 12 months is not unusual. If an older child is being placed and attends school, then after a period of settling in it may be possible to work and still be there for the child at either end of the school day. On occasions a child may need a parent to be off work longer and financial support may be available from the placing local authority in such circumstances. For people who are self-employed and not entitled to adoption leave allowances then we would need to discuss how to balance the need for work and offering a child the stability that they need early in the placement.

Adopters may have debts but so long as these are understood, and repayments can be managed alongside living expenses then this shouldn’t be a problem.

We would encourage adopters to have considered how they will manage financially whilst taking time off work.

It is possible to adopt and be in receipt of unemployment benefits or other benefits and in some circumstances financial support may be available from the agency placing the child. There would need to be evidence of a stable lifestyle and the ability to manage on the income coming into the household.

Openness and honesty about financial pressures is encouraged right from the outset of your application.

You can adopt a child if you have birth children or before you consider having birth children. If before then it would be important for the adopted child to be settled before considering having birth children. If you already have birth children, it is usually the case that an adopted child placed would be the youngest in the family by around 2 years at the point the adopted child is being placed however there may be exceptions to this so we would encourage you to discuss your situation with the adoption agency.

It is not essential to own your own property but if you don’t then you will need to evidence that there is a reasonable lease or tenancy agreement on the property that you live in and that you have the means to access another property should that end.

Ideally you would have a spare bedroom for an adopted child. This is particularly important when adopting a slightly older child as relationships with existing children in the family can take time to settle down. It may be possible however to consider the placement of a very young baby with a family with no additional bedrooms (sharing with parents) so long as there was a clear plan to provide the child with a bedroom of their own or with a sibling in the future.

Living with extended family members can be beneficial and supportive for new parents but it will be essential those family members are a part of the assessment process and that they understand the needs of adopted children. This may mean that they attend a course for family members adopting and make themselves available for the time when the child will be introduced to the family.

We welcome enquiries from people who are UK residents, or who are domiciled in Britain. To adopt in England you must be legally resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and have been so for at least 12 months. UK citizens living abroad cannot adopt a child from the UK.

EU nationals  can consider adopting a child in the UK so long you or your partner have a fixed and permanent home in the UK and that you (and your partner if you have one) have lived in the UK for at least 1 year.

It is advisable for adoptive parents to be reasonably fluent in English so that they can advocate for a child once that child is placed and so that the concepts of adopting a child can be fully understood.

Yes. Adopters can be of any faith or religion or none. We welcome, and actively encourage, adopters from all ethnicities, faiths, religions and cultures.

Children who need to be placed for adoption come from many different cultures, backgrounds and religions and it is beneficial to them if the family they are placed with can reflect this. This means we are always keen to hear from adopters of all faiths in order to be able to reflect the heritage of the children we are family finding.

There are a limited number of offences that prevent you from adopting and these are offences against children and sexual offences. There may also be other offences that cause extreme concern depending on when they were committed, the severity of the offence, the circumstances and the current attitude to those offences.  We would encourage you to be honest about any offences and discuss them openly with the adoption agency.

Many adopters are approved who have committed more minor offences. These may have been many years previously in youth or be a one off in a set of circumstances. Again, we encourage honesty about all offences committed so that these can be discussed fully. In the main they will not prevent people from adopting.

Of course, we encourage adopters from all ethnicities and would never exclude anyone on this basis. When placing children, we will consider the child’s cultural, racial and faith needs and identify adopters who best meet these needs.  Children from BAME communities wait the longest to find to adoptive parent/s and we are currently looking at ways to increase the number of BAME adopters coming forward to adopt.

Not necessarily, but if you smoke it will affect the age of child who you will be considered for. In accordance with CoramBAAF guidance in reducing the risks of environmental tobacco smoke for looked after and previously looked after children.  A child under the age of 5 years or with respiratory conditions such as asthma would not be placed in a household were someone smokes.  Given this guidance, prospective adopters who smoke are unlikely to be matched to a young child. It is important to note that the CoramBAAF guidance also relates to applicants who use, or who have used any nicotine-related devices, including e-cigarettes and vaporisers. If you have been a smoker in the past, or if you are currently a smoker, please discuss this with us at an early stage of your enquiry or application. We encourage all adopters to try to stop smoking and have done so for six months prior to staring the process.

People adopt for many different reasons and it is not essential to have explored having a birth child prior to adopting however for those who have embarked on fertility treatment first then the following advice is given.

It is important that if you have had fertility treatment that it has come to an end before starting your adoption journey. Adopting a child needs to be your priority and that will require you to have finally accepted that having a birth child is no longer an option. Many people who come to adoption due to infertility have accessed counselling following fertility treatments and this is viewed positively. Once treatment has ended, we recommend that you take some time to come to terms with the fact that it has not resulted in a birth child. Some people can be ready to adopt within a few months and for others it will take longer. We would encourage you to discuss this with us and we will be able to offer advice  depending on your personal circumstances