Adopting a child

Adoption provides loving families for children who cannot be brought up by their birth family

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Why you should consider adopting a child

Around 4,000 children wait to be adopted in England, each year. These children come from a variety of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, some may have complex needs and some may need to be adopted as part of a sibling group. 

Children in need of adoption are unable to live with their birth families for a number of reasons. Typically, children will have experienced some form of neglect or abuse which has resulted in them being placed into the care of their local authority. What all of the children have in common is an unsettled early life in which they have experienced loss and separation at a young age.

Adopting a child gives them the chance to be a part of a stable, loving and nurturing family. There are several benefits for an adopted child compared to a child who remains in foster care. This includes improved health, education and access to opportunities.

What is adoption?

Adoption provides families for children who are unable to live with their birth families. It is a legal process in which a child becomes a full and permanent member of their adoptive family for the rest of their life and cannot be reversed.

Adoptive parents become the child’s legal parents, and parental responsibility is transferred from the birth parents to the adoptive parents when an adoption order is granted by the courts. An adopted child has the same rights as a birth child and in most cases takes the adoptive family’s surname. 

Adoption is a lifelong commitment that, whilst bringing unique challenges, is hugely rewarding. 

In the UK, prospective adopters need to complete a two-stage assessment process and be approved as adopters before they can adopt a child. 

The adoption process

The children who need a forever family

As a national voluntary adoption agency, we work closely with local authorities across the UK. Our close relationships provide our adopters with many opportunities to adopt a child or children.

Because we work with many different local authorities, our adopters can be considered as adopted parents for children across the UK, rather than just in their own local authority area. There are a number of children who typically wait longer to be adopted. These children make up 65% of all those waiting to be adopted and are:

  • Children over five years old
  • Children with complex needs
  • Children from a minority ethnic background
  • Children in a sibling group

There are several benefits to adopting a child who waits longer but the main benefit is that your adoption journey can be much quicker. We already know these children are waiting to be adopted so you are likely to be selected as a child’s forever family more quickly than adopters looking for a single child under the age of three, for example.

Adopt a child over 5

Children over 5 wait 13 months longer to be adopted. If you adopt a child over five there will often be more information on the child’s health and development needs, which will relieve some of the uncertainty faced when adopting a child. This is due to the fact health and education professionals will have already begun working with them and assessing their needs.

Children over 5 are often more independent and may require less hands-on care than a younger child. This can be appealing for parents who work outside the home or who have other commitments that require them to be away from the home for periods of time.

Older children may also be more vocal about their wants and needs, which can make it easier for adoptive parents to understand and meet their child’s needs. Having this level of communication can help to strengthen the bond with your child as they have a better level of understanding and may be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings with you.

Another benefit of adopting an older child is that they often have a greater understanding of what is happening and can participate in the adoption process in a more meaningful way. This can include meeting prospective parents and having input into the decision-making process. This can help the child feel more empowered and in control during a time of transition and change.


Adopt a child with a disability or complex needs

When adopting a child with a disability or complex needs, the needs of the child will have already been identified, so the degree of uncertainty associated with adopting a child will be significantly reduced. However, children with a disability can wait 11 months longer for their forever family.

Adopting a child with a disability or complex needs can be a challenging but rewarding experience. With the proper education, support, and preparation, you can provide a loving and nurturing home for a child who needs it most.

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Adopt an ethnic minority child

Ethnic minority children can find themselves waiting 3 months longer to be adopted. One of the primary considerations when adopting an ethnic minority child is the importance of cultural competence. This means having an understanding and appreciation for the child’s racial and cultural heritage, and being able to incorporate this into their daily lives. Adoptive parents may need to educate themselves on the child’s cultural traditions and customs, and ensure that they are providing a supportive and affirming environment for their child.

Ethnic minority children may face discrimination and racism in their lives. Adoptive parents should be prepared to address this issue and provide their child with the tools and support they need to navigate these challenges. This may involve having conversations about race and racism, seeking out resources and support networks, and advocating for their child in various settings.

When adopting an ethnic minority child, it’s important to be aware of the impact that transracial adoption can have on the child’s sense of identity and belonging. Adoptive parents should be prepared to address this by connecting them with role models and mentors from their own racial or ethnic community, and creating opportunities for them to explore and celebrate their racial identity.

Whilst ideally children would be matched with an adoptive family who matches their ethnicity, this is not always possible and we support transracial adoption. Transracial adoption can have a positive impact on how we see and perceive the world and creates a deeper awareness and acceptance of racial and cultural diversity.

Adopt a sibling group

If you are considering adopting more than one child, adopting siblings can have several advantages for both the siblings themselves and for yourself. Despite the advantages, siblings make up the largest number of children that wait longer to be adopted and can wait 11 months longer to be adopted.

Although adopting siblings can be more challenging than adopting a single child, with the proper support and resources, adopting siblings can be a rewarding experience for both the adoptive family and the children.

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Choosing a child to adopt 

Our aim is to provide loving, forever families for children and minimise the risk of an adoption break down. That is why it is important for you to identify your own capabilities and be honest about the children you think would be most suitable for your family. You will never be pressured to adopt a child or children you do not feel would be a good match for you. It can be difficult to decide which children would be suitable for your family so we will be on hand to fully support you during this process. It can still be possible to adopt a baby but there are several factors to take into consideration. 

Find out more about a baby or under 3’s here.

The Matching Process

Types of adoption in the UK

There are a few different types of adoption services available in the UK.

Traditional adoption

This is the adoption of a child living in the UK and is a service we provide at Adopters for Adoption. The children will typically be living with a foster family under the care of their local authority prior to their adoption. You will be assessed and approved as adopters before the family finding process begins.  Once you have been identified as potential adopters for a specific child or children, introductions will be carried out, before the child(ren) finally move into your home.

Early Permanence

Early permanence enables children to be placed in a loving, stable home at the earliest opportunity with the likelihood of the children being adopted in the future. Foster to adopt and concurrent planning are the two types of adoption that fall under the term early permanence. You would need to be approved as a foster carer and an adopter (dual approved) for these types of adoption. Whilst you may be able to adopt a younger child and reduce the number of moves a child needs to make, improving their overall wellbeing and development, you also have to be aware that:

  • You may need to take the child for contact with their birth family during this period.
  • Whilst unlikely, there is still a chance the child may return to their birth family.
  • A relative of the birth family who was not previously known may come forward to offer a permanent home for the child.

The key difference between foster to adopt and concurrent planning is that with foster to adopt the local authority has already decided adoption is in the best interests of the child but it remains for the court to decide. With concurrent planning, the local authority has not yet decided if adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Adopters for Adoption does not offer either of these types of adoption.

Find out the differences between fostering and adoption here.

Intercountry/International adoption

Intercountry or international adoption is the process by which you legally adopt a child from a country other than your own and then bring that child to your country of residence to live with you permanently.

Adopters for Adoption does not offer intercountry adoption services.

Types of adoption agencies in the UK

Local authority agencies, regional adoption agencies and voluntary adoption agencies are the types of adoption agencies in the UK. Both local authority agencies and regional adoption agencies have children in their care that they recruit adopters for. Adopters are limited to the children within the area of the local authority or regional adoption agency. Whereas, a voluntary adoption agency, such as Adopters for Adoption, works in partnership with local authorities to find children nationally for the adopters they have recruited.

Why choose AFA?

Get in Touch

If you would like to find out more information or if you have any questions, please get in touch with our friendly team who will be happy to help. Click here to complete our online enquiry form, email us at or call us on 0800 587 7791.

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