Adoption explained

What is adoption?

Adoption is life changing. You become the legal parent of a child who cannot – for whatever reason – live with their birth parents. You’ll take on the same legal rights and responsibilities of a birth parent and provide a permanent home for the child you adopt. Your child will take on your surname and become a member of your family for life. This differs from fostering, which involves looking after someone else’s child either for a short period of time, or until they reach adulthood.

Who can adopt?

Adopters come from all walks of life. There is no upper age limit for adoption, although you need to be over 21. You need to be able to look after a child until they become an adult and ideally be there to support them beyond this point. You can be gay, heterosexual, single, in a civil partnership, married or co-habiting – all applications are very welcome and treated equally.  You can adopt whether you rent or own your own home, as long as you have stable living arrangements and the space to accommodate a child.

Being in employment is also not a requirement to adopt a child, but if you are working you will need to take some time off as ‘adoption leave’ once the child has been placed with you. What takes priority is that you have the energy and commitment to love and care for children. Whether you have no children, have children living at home or adult children who have moved away, it makes no difference. Importantly, you do not have to live in one of the five local authority areas to be an adopter for Adoption Counts. 

Your application

Applicants will often be prioritised if they are offering to adopt children who wait longer to be adopted, e.g. children over four years of age, boys, sibling groups, black and minority ethnic children and children with complex needs. However, you must be able to demonstrate the skills, abilities and/or experience to meet the needs of these children.

When you make an enquiry we will need to assess your circumstances and make some initial decisions about whether you are likely to be able to meet the needs of the children we are working with. As you progress into the process you will undergo a full assessment before you can be approved as an adopter.

You can see a full breakdown of the adoption process here and more details can be found on our FAQ pages here.