Adopting a child in the UK

Adopting a child in the UK

What to know…

  • The child must be under 18 when the application is made
  • Both birth parents need to agree or give consent to the adoption (in normal cases)
  • You don’t have to be a British citizen to adopt a child but you must have a fixed and permanent home in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and have lived there for at least 1 year before beginning the application process


You can adopt a child if…

  • You are over 21 year olds
  • The partner of the child’s parent
  • Single
  • Married
  • In a civil partnership
  • An unmarried couple

How to adopt?

  • You can go through an adoption agency that’s part of your local council
  • Find a voluntary adoption agency

The process:

  1. Find an agency you want to use, and register your interest. They will send then you information on their application process
  2. You’ll be invited to a meeting to discuss your situation
  3. If you and the agency agree to proceed, you will be given an application form
  4. Once you’ve submitted your application you will be invited to preparation classes, which will give you advice on the effect adoption may have on you and your family
  5. A social worker will come to your home, and meet with you on several occasions so they can assess whether they think you’re suitable
  6. You’ll need to have a police check. Please note if you or any of your family has been convicted of a serious offence, you will not be able to adopt
  7. Providing you pass the police check, you’ll then need to send over the details of 3 referrers who can give you a personal reference
  8. You’ll need to undergo a full medical examination
  9. Your full application process along with an assessment will go to an independent adoption panel, made up of people experienced in adoption. They will then recommend you are a suitable candidate or not
  10. If you are successful, the agency will inform you that you are suitable to adopt and will start the process to find a child. They will guide you from here on in. If you are unsuccessful please see below
  11. Once the process is over and a child is officially living with you, you can to apply for an adoption court order in order to allow you parental rights and responsibilities for the child. The application can be done at a Family Court and can be applied for after the child has lived with you for at least 10 weeks.


What to do if you are unsuccessful with the adoption process…

If you are not suitable, but you believe you are the right candidate, you can challenge this decision by writing to them, or apply to the Independent Review Mechanism. Otherwise, you can contact other adoption agencies although this does mean going through the whole process again.

Adopting a child from overseas

You’ll need to view the process here.

It is a similar process to the UK adoption process, but there are additional fees and hoops to jump through such as the application process will go to an overseas adoption authority to be assessed. Plus, you are expected to visit the child in their native country.