An Introduction to Adoption

How to apply

If you’ve taken the decision to try to adopt a child, you need to be prepared for a lengthy process. Whether you’re looking to adopt a child that you already know, are already caring for perhaps as a step or foster parent, or if you do not yet know the child but would like to become an adoptive parent, there are extensive steps in place to ensure that your home is the right one for a child.

If you’ve feel that you’re able to provide a good home and caring environment for a child, you will need to focus on this throughout what can be an arduous procedure. For more information on applying to adopt see the article applying for adoption.


Many people assume that there are huge numbers of reasons that people are rejected for adoption, and that there’s no point in applying because of this. This is not the case however, and there are fewer reasons than you might think for not being able to adopt, as long as you’re over 21 and you live permanently in the UK.

You should not be refused the ability to adopt on the grounds of religion, sexuality or marital status, nor should your income be a factor, as long as you are financially stable enough to care for a child.

Similarly, you do not need to be in full time employment or to own your own home; you can be self-employed and even unemployed and will still be eligible to apply.


In some cases, an adoption agency will recommend that you wait a while before applying to become an adoptive parent, for example if you have recently been through a course of fertility treatment, if you have children who are not much older than the child you’re looking to adopt, if you’re involved in a new relationship, have insufficient living space for a child, or have just moved house.

If you have had a child who has died, the agency will typically urge you to take time before applying to adopt also, not least because the assessment process can be a stressful and personal one. Particular agencies have other specific guidelines in addition to help them establish the suitability of your family home for adopting a child.


You may find that your application for adoption will be difficult or in some cases rejected if you suffer from some physical or mental health problems, if you have certain criminal convictions, or if a child of your own has been taken into care at any time in the past.


Once you’ve established that there is no initial barrier to you adopting and wish to proceed, you will need to get in touch with a local adoption agency. You can do this by finding one in your area online or by contacting you local authority, through the social work or children’s services departments.

This part of the process can be a lengthy one, as the adoption agency will need to gauge the suitability of you, your family and your home over a period of time. Typically, a social worker will be assigned to your case, and will get to know you and your partner (if applicable) over the course of the process, which will normally take several months.

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For more information on:

  • Decision
  • Adopting
  • Order