Who can adopt?
Whatever your background, adoption could be for you.
There are many myths and misleading stories in the media about who can adopt; but all people who adopt have the following qualities, and are able to:
- provide love, time and commitment to a child
- empathise with a child who may never have experienced the security of feeling safe and loved
- be patient and flexible; able to supportively adapt to the unique challenges that may come from a child’s circumstances
- have the energy and health to provide a long-term family for a child
People who adopt are from all walks of life and can be:
- single, married or unmarried
- from any ethnic or religious background
- heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender
- a homeowner or living in rented accommodation
- employed or on benefits
- over the age of 21
Being disabled doesn't exclude you from adopting. In fact, experience of disability can sometimes be an advantage.
If you've adopted a child with us before, or you're an approved foster carer, your application could be fast tracked.
Please contact us to talk about this further.
Who can’t adopt?
Although adoption is open to more people than you might think, there are some conditions that will automatically exclude you.
If you're under 21 you can't legally adopt in the UK. If it's your dream to adopt please don’t give up; consider coming back in a few years and talk to us in the meantime about ways to help you prepare for this.
To adopt in England you must be a legal resident of the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and have been so for at least 12 months. UK citizens living abroad cannot adopt from the UK.
If you, or a member or your household, have a criminal conviction or caution for offences against children or for serious sexual offences you will not be able to adopt. Other criminal offences will not automatically exclude you but will be taken into consideration during the assessment process, so please be open with us from the start.
"Dan came to us almost 2 years ago to the day...I'm not sure who was more nervous!"
- Mark, adoptive parent
Are you ready to adopt?
It's very important that you read through the questions below carefully.
If you’re unsure with any of these we would advise you to take some time to call us informally on 01473 264800 to see if this is the right time for you to proceed with an application to adopt.
Do you have any major health conditions that may affect your ability to parent?
We are happy to talk to you about this and explain the medical assessments that will need to take place during the early stages of the process.
Do you have children in the household already?
We welcome applications from people who are already parents. If your have a child under three years old then you will need to wait and apply once there is an appropriate age gap between your current youngest child and your prospective adopted child. This age gap should be at least 2 years.
It is also important that you have spoken to your existing children (age appropriately) about your wishes to adopt and know that they are happy with this. This applies to all children, including adult children and children who may not live with you on a permanent basis.
Do you smoke or have you recently given up smoking?
If you smoke or have recently given up smoking, your application will be delayed. According to national medical advice, children under five and those with particular medical conditions should not be placed in smoking households. You will usually need to be smoke-free for at least six months before your application can be considered. See your GP for advice and support on giving up smoking or visit the NHS smoke free website.
Have you recently undertaken fertility treatment?
If you have finished your last course of treatment less than six months ago then we would advise that you wait a little longer before starting the adoption process. This is to ensure that you are ready both physically and emotionally to fully commit to adoption. We will be happy to talk to you about this further as we appreciate that everybody's experiences are individual to them.
Are you a pet or animal owner?
If you're a pet/animal owner, you will need to consider the safety of children in your home and the impact of a new arrival upon your pet. If you have one or more dogs then we will ask you to complete a dog owner's questionnaire. We may ask you to get an assessment from an appropriate professional regarding your pet or animal and accept any advice they offer.
Are you planning to change your job in the near future?
Now might not be the right time to consider adoption, as it is worth getting settled in your new job before making an application to adopt.
Do you have knowledge of how to care for children?
We ask all applicants to consider how they can best prepare themselves to becoming an adoptive parent. We want everyone interested in adoption to learn more about the adoption journey and the needs of children in care. This will include gaining childcare experience on a regular basis throughout your assessment and applies to all applicants, even those who are already parents.