Watch this short film to find out how adoption has changed over the decades.
FAQs and Misconceptions
Many people are put off the idea of adoption because they think they are not able to adopt. Here are some of the questions we are frequently asked about adoption.
Yes, we welcome adopters who are self-employed. As with all potential parents, we will explore your finances and you will be asked about your ability to support a child when they come to live with you, and throughout their childhood. You will need to take a period of adoption leave to settle your child into your home, create a bond and help them feel safe and secure. This depends on your child and their needs, and should be at the very least 6, ideally 12 months. You will need to let us know how you will support yourself and your family during this time.
As with all applicants, you will be asked about your savings, your flexibility around childcare, for example, being available for school picks ups, or whether you would be able to adjust your working hours if your child needed extra support.
Currently potential adopters who are self-employed are not entitled to statutory Government support. This is being considered, and you can read more in the report – Adoption pay: Levelling up for the self-employed – produced by Home For Good, a charity supporting adoption. Please discuss your circumstances with a member of the team.
As a couple coming to adoption, you need to have been living together at least two years. The length of the relationship beyond that does not matter. As with all potential parents, you will need to demonstrate the strength of your relationship and that it is well established. It is important that couples are able to demonstrate that they have dealt with challenges together and how you will plan to co-parent.
Black children often wait longer for adoption. This is usually because there are fewer families able to adopt them.
We welcome families from black African and black Caribbean communities, mixed ethnicity families (with African and Caribbean heritage), and families able to demonstrate they can raise a child from a different ethnic background to themselves. All prospective adopters need to promote and support a child’s culture and identity.
Yes, you can adopt if you are single. Being a single person can benefit some of our children and many single people make very successful adoptive parents. You will need to consider and assess the extra demands of being a single parent, such as your finances. You will also need to have a strong support network around you.
We value diversity and welcome adopters regardless of their sexuality or gender. The same criteria apply to all prospective adopters. If adopting with a partner or spouse, we would expect you to have lived together for at least one year, and for there to be evidence that it is a stable and enduring relationship. If an adopter had transitioned then it would be important that they were established in their new gender and had a secure sense of their self prior to starting the adoption assessment process.
Our requirement is that you are able to care for and raise a child throughout their childhood. We need to be sure that adopters are healthy enough to parent a child into adulthood and that the child will have a healthy and active lifestyle too.
This can be a sensitive issue, but it is one we will discuss with you and we will take into account the report from your GP, and advice from our own medical advisers. 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.
The focus of our discussions will be on your ability to remain physically well and active enough to successfully parent an adopted child into adulthood.
Our focus will always be on how adopters can consistently meet the needs of a child throughout their childhood and into adulthood. Every prospective adopter will need to undergo a medical from their GP. Whilst most medical conditions won’t prevent you from adopting a child, we will need to discuss any health concerns in more detail and with advice from our medical advisers. We will consider the support you have from a partner or other close family members or friends, and the long-term prognosis of your condition.
People adopt for many different reasons and it is not essential to have explored having a birth child prior to adopting. For those who have embarked on fertility treatment, we recommend your fertility treatment has come to an end before you start an adoption assessment, as adopting a child needs to be your priority.
Once treatment has ended we recommend that you take some time to time to grieve the loss of not having a birth child and to fully accept that having a birth child is no longer an option. We would recommend at least six months. 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 so that we can advise you based on your own personal circumstances.
Many people who come to adoption due to infertility have accessed counselling following fertility treatments and whilst it is not necessary to have done so this is viewed positively.
We welcome adopters of any sexuality, what matters is your ability to offer a home, love, and support to a child who needs adoption. Adopters can be single or looking to adopt jointly with their spouse or partner.
The same criteria apply to all prospective adopters. If adopting with a partner or spouse, we would expect you to have lived together for at least one year and for there to be evidence that it is a stable and enduring relationship.
If you have transitioned then it would be important that you are established in your new gender, and have a secure sense of yourself prior to starting the adoption assessment process.
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 twelve 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 one year.
You may need to take legal advice if you are uncertain.
Many people have short periods of stress, depression, or anxiety in their lives and whilst there would need to be a discussion about how this has been managed this is unlikely to prevent you from adopting a child.
Some people have longer-term mental health conditions which are well controlled. The GPs medical report would provide the agency with medical advice 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 us 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 the agency feels that someone’s mental health is not stable enough to parent an adopted child who has experienced trauma, but this will be considered early on in the process.
Yes, we welcome adopters with or without faith. The children who need to be placed for adoption come from many different cultures, backgrounds, and religions and it is good if the family they are placed with reflects this.
Faith is an important element of the motivation to adopt for many adopters and may bring a strong community of support. We understand the strength this may bring, but will also explore your acceptance of other religions and your ability to allow your children to make their own decisions as they grow.
We also ask adopters if they are able to consider adopting a child from an ethnicity, culture, or religion which is different from their own.
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 you have lived together for at least one year prior to starting your adoption journey.
Adopted children have often experienced considerable disruption in their lives, so 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.
We recommend that at least one adopter has time off work following the placement of a child. Each 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.
Many prospective adopters are self-employed and may not be entitled to adoption leave allowances. We would explore with you how you would plan to balance the need for work with the need to offer a child the stability that they need early on in the placement.
Adopters may have debts but so long as these are understood and repayments can be managed alongside living expenses then this should not be a problem. We encourage all adopters to consider how they will manage financially whilst taking time off work.
It is possible to adopt and be in receipt of universal credit or other benefits. In some circumstances, financial support may be available from the agency placing the child. We would be looking for evidence of a stable lifestyle, and the ability to manage the income coming into the household. Openness and honesty about financial pressures are encouraged right from the outset of your application.
Yes, we aim to find loving families for all the children in our care, even if ethnicity is not a perfect match. Ethnicity is relevant though, and you will need to have a good understanding of the challenges that raising a child of a different ethnicity may present. We will provide support and encourage you to promote and celebrate the ethnicity, culture, and religion of our children.
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. We would recommend that you attend one of the readily available English courses prior to enquiring about adoption.
Many disabled people and people with additional health needs adopt a child successfully. The early part of the process of becoming an adopter will involve all adopters having a medical. 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.
This would include consideration of the likely longer-term impact of your disability or health needs as well as positive actions taken to mitigate risk. We will also consider the support you have from a partner or other close family members or friends.
There are a limited number of offences that prevent you from adopting and these are those against children, vulnerable adults, and sexual offences. There may also be other offences that cause extreme concern depending on when they were committed, their severity, the circumstances, and the current attitude to those offences. We would encourage you to be honest and discuss all convictions spent or unspent openly with your 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 particular 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.
Smoking does not automatically rule you out from adopting. However, if you wish to adopt a child under the age of five or a child with particular medical conditions, you are likely to need to be smoke-free for at least six months before making an application. Please discuss your circumstances with a social worker. When agencies have a choice of adopters, smokers are at a disadvantage compared with non-smokers because the health risks are so clear. We strongly advise you to consider the benefits of ceasing smoking prior to your application.
Vaping can also present risks that need to be considered carefully and discussed with a social worker. Current guidance around the risks of vaping are under constant review, we do not know all the affects and want to give children the best opportunities.
You need to be aged 21 years or older to adopt in the UK. There is no upper age limit. We will consider your ability to parent a child into adulthood based on your health, and the health of a partner if you have one. You will need the energy and well-being to raise a child into adulthood.