Why are children placed for adoption?

Each child has a unique history. Many have parents who, for a variety of reasons are unable to meet their needs. Some have been neglected, or abused physically, emotionally or sexually. Some have health conditions or are disabled. All, over time, have to deal with the emotional consequences of leaving their birth family. Some have had many moves before living with an adoptive family.  All will have emotional needs over and above those of children who have not had these life experiences and losses.

How old are the children?

Children who need new families vary in age from babies to primary school age.

What are the children like?

Most of the children we place have already been subject to a lot of change, uncertainty and unhappiness in their lives. Some children have had complex and difficult early life experiences, including abuse and neglect and as a result may have a range of emotional, physical or learning difficulties.

Many of the children waiting for adoption are siblings who need to be placed together. Children come from all different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds and so will need families who will value their heritage.

You will need time, affection, and patience.  Our team will offer you training to prepare for your adoption and support throughout.

Who can adopt?

Anyone over 21 years of age can be a prospective adopter, regardless of marital status, disability, gender, religion, sexual orientation, income.

Can I adopt if I work full time?

Your employment status will be considered as part of your adoption assessment; each circumstance is unique and will be treated as such as. We will consider the age of any child you are thinking about, your hours, ability to work from home etc. It will be important for you to think about taking a good period of adoption leave after a child is placed with you; this is a really important time to get to know your child and begin to build those essential loving bonds.

I have a criminal record, can I adopt?

A criminal record does not necessarily rule you out for adoption, however it depends what the conviction was and sometimes on how long ago it occurred.  There are some criminal convictions which mean that you will be unable to adopt. We would like you to let us know as early in the process as possible if you have a criminal record.  Normally a senior manager would decide if we can take your application forward.

I smoke, can I adopt?

Smoking will not rule you out as an adopter, however consideration will be given to all health and lifestyle issues (including smoking), as we need to know any health risks the adopted child may be subjected to.

We follow guidelines recommended by BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering) which state that children under the age of five and children with a disability, including asthma or respiratory conditions should not be placed with adopters who smoke. The protection of the health of children in our care must be a priority. Please see our smoking guide for more details.

I am disabled, will I be able to adopt?

Being disabled does not rule you out as an adopter. Disability will be considered during the adoption process as would any other health issues.

Can I adopt a child from a different background?

Children who need new families come from a wide range of backgrounds.  Factors such as ethnicity, culture, language and religion are important parts of a child’s identity.  Placement with a similar family can be more likely to meet the child’s needs. Ethnicity, religion and culture are relevant; understanding that there will be challenges to raising a child from a different background is important, however the most important element of adoption is supplying a safe, loving environment. Many children are placed with families who are different; in which case, careful thought is given to factors such as the extended family network and the community in which they live.

Am I too old/young to adopt?

While there is a legal minimum age for adoption, 21, there is no upper limit.  Each case is unique and so will be judged independently. 

I already have a birth child can I adopt?

Having children of your own would not stop you adopting. Children over 18 will need to have a DBS check as would other adult members of your household

The age of your birth children will be considered when you are thinking about adopting a child. We recommend that there should be at least two years between the ages of your own child and a child you adopt.

I am currently undergoing fertility treatment can I adopt?

If you have had or are undergoing fertility treatment we will ask that you wait till well after you have finished treatment before considering adoption. There are emotional strains in pursuing either route to parenthood doing both simultaneously is not possible.

Can I adopt if I’ve recently been bereaved?

We normally recommend that you give yourself a reasonable period of time- around a year- if a partner or close family member has died.

 Is there a waiting list?

There is no waiting list although we are only recruiting prospective adopters interested in particular age groups.  These include children of primary school; age (4 upwards), sibling groups and people interested in fostering for adoption and concurrency.

To read more about the last two categories, which give early permanence to babies, please see information about the local concurrency and early permanence project here:


How much will it cost?

Our service is free

Will I get a baby/can I adopt a baby?

There are very few babies available for adoption; however please see the information about the local concurrency and early permanence project here:


Most babies placed for adoption are now placed via this route; we recommend that you talk extensively with us before deciding to take this on as you will need to be very resilient and resourceful and have a plenty of support.

How long does the process take?

It takes six months to be approved as an adopter. This is divided into stage one and stage two. Checks and references are carried out in stage one and the m ore intensive assessment period takes place in stage two. Following approval the time taken to be matched with a child varies enormously.

Do adopted children have contact with their birth parents?

Every child placed for adoption has an individual contact plan based on a careful assessment of their own particular needs.  Most children have indirect contact via the Letterbox scheme (see leaflet). Some children also have some infrequent face to face contact with parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents and/or previous carers.  There are well researched reasons for helping children keep links with the past which are explored in the adopter’s preparation course. 

 How many children can I adopt?

Over the course of your assessment you social worker will discuss with you the age of the children that is appropriate for you to adopt and the number of children you will be able to adopt. 

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