I want to adopt a child. What procedure do I have to follow?

There are regulations and standards in place in order to protect the child’s safety and ensure they are placed in a home and with a family that are capable of caring for them. This checklist is a handy guide for beginning this journey;

  • To be adopted, a child must:
  • be under the age of 18 when the adoption application is made
  • not be (or have never been) married or in a civil partnership

The child’s birth parents

  • Both birth parents normally have to agree (consent) to the adoption, unless:
    • they cannot be found
    • they’re incapable of giving consent, for example due to a mental disability
    • the child would be put at risk if they were not adopted

Who can adopt a child?

  • You may be able to adopt a child if you’re aged 21 or over (there’s no upper age limit)
  • single
  • married
  • in a civil partnership
  • an unmarried couple (same sex and opposite sex)
  • the partner of the child’s parent

Living in the UK

  • You do not have to be a British citizen to adopt a child, but:
  • you (or your partner, if you’re a couple) must have a fixed and permanent home in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • you (and your partner, if you’re a couple) must have lived in the UK for at least 1 year before you begin the application process

Adopting Domestically

Adoption gives children who cannot safely live with their birth family the chance to have a loving, safe and secure family life. Finding a new family for children who need it gives them the opportunity to reach their full potential, despite their difficult early experiences.

Adoption is a legal process whereby adoptive parents become the child's legal parents with the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent. Adopted children no longer have any legal ties with their birth parents and become full members of their new family.

Children from a range of backgrounds, ages and experiences are in need of adoption. Around 3,000 to 4,000 children are adopted in the UK each year, but there are still thousands of children who cannot return to their birth families and are in need of a secure and loving adoptive home. Among the children awaiting adoption relatively few are babies. Many are of school age, and there are groups of brothers and sisters who need to stay together. The majority of these children will have experienced some form of early trauma or loss, and all of them need a devoted family environment where they can experience unconditional love, support and security.

The process:

            Step One

  • Contact an adoption agency or (if you’re from England or Wales) your local council - they’ll send you information about the adoption process.
  • The agency will arrange to meet you - you may also be invited to a meeting with other people wanting to adopt a child.
  • If you and the agency agree to carry on, the agency will give you an application form.
  • The adoption approval process normally takes around 6 months. You will then be matched with a child for adoption.

Step Two

  • You will be invited to a series of preparation classes - these are normally held locally and give advice on the effect adoption may have on you.
  • Arrange for a social worker to visit you on several occasions to carry out an assessment - this is to check you’re suitable to become an adoptive parent.
  • Arrange a police check - you will not be allowed to adopt if you, or an adult member of your family, have been convicted of a serious offence, for example against a child.
  • You will be asked to provide the names of 3 referees who will give you a personal reference. One of your referees can be a relative.
  • Arrange to have a full medical examination.

Step Three

  • The social worker will send the assessment report to an independent adoption panel. This is a group of people who are experienced in adoption.
  • The panel will make a recommendation to the adoption agency based on your assessment.
  • You can go along to ask questions and answer any questions the panel has.
  • The adoption panel will send their recommendation to the agency, which will then decide whether you’re suitable to adopt a child.

Your adoption agency works with local authorities to find the right child for you. They will discuss the suitability of children with you and a report is presented to a matching adoption panel and the agency makes a final decision regarding the match proceeding.

For more information see here.

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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