The adoption process and where to get support

If you’re interested in adopting a child, you should contact a local adoption agency. The adoption agency will arrange to meet you. They’ll explain what’s involved in adoption and why different children come up for adoption. If an adoption agency accepts your application to adopt, they'll assess you.

Adoption application and preparation

If you want to adopt, the agency will do some checks - including your health and any criminal record you may have. A health condition or criminal record might not rule you out of the process. Adoption agencies are mainly interested in your suitability to care for a child and meet their needs into adulthood.

If the checks are satisfactory, you will be invited to go to a preparation course where you will learn more about caring for an adopted child.


If the agency accepts your application, an assessment process will begin.

The social worker will make some visits to your home and will:

  • ask you questions about your own family background, your childhood, your present circumstances and your attitude to parenting
  • speak to your family
  • interview two personal referees named by you

The assessment is demanding, it can feel intrusive and will take several months. Everything is explored in depth with you.

Adoption is for life and the agency must be sure you are right for the role. Just as importantly, you must be certain you can make a success of it.

Once you have seen and agreed the content of the home study report, it will be considered by an adoption panel and then by the agency's decision maker, who is a senior manager in the adoption agency.

What an adoption panel does

An adoption panel is a group of people who consider if:

  • adoption would be in the child's best interests
  • the person who wants to adopt should be approved
  • particular people are suitable for a particular child or children

The panel's recommendation is passed to the agency's decision maker for a final decision to be made.

How long the adoption process takes

The length of the process varies depending on each case. The adoption agency will be able to explain more about timescales for each part of the process. It can take quite a long time as adoption is a big step and it is essential for everyone that it is the right decision.

Support for adoptive families

Bringing up any child is a rewarding and sometimes challenging experience. This is especially so when bringing up a child not born to you.

Your adoption agency will help you prepare with information on the needs of adopted children, talking about adoption and contact with birth families.

Agencies also recognise that adoption is for life and provide advice and support as the child grows older.

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