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What is Adoption?

Adoption enables people without children to become parents and it helps people with children to expand their family.  Adoption is a way of providing new families for children who cannot be brought up by their biological parents.

It’s a legal procedure in which all parental responsibility is transferred to the adopters.  Once an adoption order has been granted, it cannot be reversed.  An adopted child loses all legal ties with their birth parent(s) and becomes a full member of the adoptive family, usually taking the family’s name. view here

What is the difference between adoption and fostering?

Adoption is a legal process by which a child becomes a full member of a new family, with the adoptive parents assuming all parental responsibilities.

Fostering is a temporary arrangement where a child lives with a family until circumstances enable the child to return to their own family, to live independently, to be placed for special guardianship or adoption. view here

How much does adoption cost?

Once the adoption order has been granted, the adoptive parents take on complete financial responsibility for the upkeep of the child.  Some local authorities provide financial support dependent on the needs of the child; this is called an adoption allowance.  Like any other parents, you’ll be able to receive Child Benefit and other state benefits. An adoption support fund may also be available for children with additional therapeutic needs based on assessment by the Local Authority.

It’s free to be assessed as adopters and it is illegal for any agency to make a profit from adoption. Read more on adoption support here

How much information about the child will I receive?

Adopters should be given as much information about the child and their birth family as is available to help them make an informed decision.  This will also help the child understand the reasons why they were unable to remain with their birth family and why they were adopted.  This will include information on any health needs, the family circumstances of the child, their background and information about their birth parents.

We’re wholly committed to ensuring you have as much information as is possible so you can make informed decisions. You’ll know what we know, and we’ll help you ask the right questions of social workers if you need to. Read more about the  The Children That Need Adopting?

Can I have any child I want?

To help children feel a ‘sense of belonging’ and to promote positive identity, we do our best to identify a family who can promote a child’s ethnicity, religion, language, social and cultural needs. We’ll work with you to ensure you’re aware of children who are waiting for adoption so you can find the child or children you have the love and skills to parent. There are lots of ways for you to find the child or children you want to adopt, and we’ll help you do this.

You don’t need to say yes to the first child or children that you may be approached about if you don’t feel they are right for you, there’ll be other children waiting who will be right for you. Read more on searching for a child

Should the child be told they are adopted?

Yes, but how and when a child is first told depends on the adopting family and the child’s level of understanding.  The general advice is that the earlier the child is told, the better. More information can be given as the child grows older and gains more understanding.

We’ll work with you through the process to give you all the information you’ll need to tell your child or children about their history. Read more about life story work

What are the rights of the child's birth parents?

Birth parents can sometimes decide to have their child adopted.  These children are often babies, and are sometimes called ‘relinquished’ babies. The mother signs a document giving her agreement, and if the parents were married to each other when the child was born the father must give permission too.  The father should also be given the opportunity to propose alternatives to adoption; however this does not always happen.  ‘Relinquished’ children are relatively rare.

Most children are placed for adoption as a result of being removed from a situation which is no longer safe. They’ll sometimes be removed from their parents when they are born under a court order, or later on in their childhood. It’s the decision of the court that adoption is in the child’s best interest. The social worker has a duty to consult birth parents about the kind of family their child should be placed with, although they may not be able to carry out all of their wishes.  If the birth parents and adoptive parents wish to, they can have a meeting. This will be fully planned and you’ll be supported through this and many adopters tell us this was a very helpful meeting.

Birth parents are able to challenge the court’s decision to adopt a child right up until the granting of the adoption order.  Once the adoption order has been granted, the birth parents will no longer have any legal rights over the child. This is the point at which you become the child’s or children’s legal parents. Read more about the children that need adopting

Should children continue to see their birth family?

Contact with birth families can help children to maintain links with their past which assists their emotional well-being.

Direct contact involves an adoptive child meeting with their birth parents face-to-face. While this can cause feelings of confusion and disappointment, they can have an important role to play in a child understanding their past. Most visits involve a social worker and take place in a neutral venue e.g. a local coffee shop. This is relatively rare and you’ll be able to decide if you feel this is something you want to consider during the assessment process.

Indirect contact/letterbox involves an adoptive child having access to letterbox contact. This can include the exchange of information through letters, cards, school reports etc. between the child and their birth parents. This contact will have been agreed prior to a child being placed for adoption. All information needs to ensure that it does not identify where the child lives etc. and is handled through a third party organisation. This is the most common form of post adoption contact.

What if a child wants to trace their birth parents?

Most adopted children are curious about their origins, but this does not mean that they do not love and care for their adoptive parents, so new parents should not feel threatened by this curiosity.  The Adoption and Children Act 2002 gave adopted people in England and Wales the right to see their birth certificates and know more about their origins when they reach the age of 18.  The original birth certificate gives the mother’s name, occupation, date of child’s birth and address at the time of birth. It may also give similar details about the father.

What is the difference between Local Authority’s and Voluntary Adoption Agencies?

The main difference between a local authority and an adoption agency is that local authorities have children who are waiting to be adopted, so they can initially identify children for prospective adopters from their ‘pool’ of children. This means local authorities will sometimes choose not to assess people if they have a particular child preference for which they don’t have a need. It can also mean adopters are matched very quickly with children too.

Adoption agencys don’t have the children in the same way as local authorities, but we assess the adopters. We then make sure local authorities know we have adopters for children and work in partnership with them to ensure that children are matched with adopters as soon as possible.

It’s crucial that you feel comfortable with the agency you choose, and that you know you have the power to choose which agency feels right for you. Read more about our agency

How long does the process take?

When you formally sign up to the agency, it’ll take 2 months in Stage One for all the pre assessment checks and visits to take place which includes DBS checks, references etc. It’ll then take 4 months for the assessment, Stage Two, up to the adoption panel.

We’re unable to put a timescale onto the ‘matching process’ as it will depend on the child’s needs and your preferences. These timescales aren’t set in stone, but it’s recognised that sometimes circumstances change and we must ensure the assessment is done thoroughly, rather than simply adhering to rigid timescales. Read more about the adoption process

Will I need to take time off work?

You must ensure that you have enough time/ annual leave to attend meetings with your social worker and undertake the ‘Prep Training’.

Although we’ll make every effort to be flexible, you’ll need to have some time off work during the assessment and introduction processes. Read more about preparation training

What if I have had/ having fertility treatment?

Whilst we’ve no hard and fast rules, as some agencies do, about how long you need to wait between the end of IVF treatment and pursuing adoption, we’d need to be sure you’ve emotionally come to terms with the end of that process.

Everyone is different and people will process their feelings in a variety of ways. Some people will be ready and able to speak about adoption; others won’t yet have got to the point of accepting they won’t be having a birth child.

Fertility treatment would need to stop before being taken forward to the assessment stage.

I don’t have a spare bedroom, can I still adopt?

This would not rule you out of the process at the initial stages, however we must ensure that there’s enough room for the child.

This would be something to discuss further and reviewed at the home initial visit as it would also depend on whether you have an age preference. Read more about how you can adopt

I’m planning some work on my house, will this affect my assessment?

This’ll depend on the work you’re intending to do. We aim to be as flexible as possible, however we would require any significant work to be completed prior to an application being accepted.

I’m a smoker, can I still adopt?

Smoking won’t necessarily rule you out from adopting. Consideration will be given to this and to all health and lifestyle related issues. We’ll want to know of any health risks to you or to the children who may be placed with you.

There’s no single national policy on smoking, but national medical advice is that children under five and those with particular medical conditions shouldn’t be placed in smoking households. You’ll usually need to have given up smoking for at least six months before adoption before these groups can be considered.

This is not true of E-cigarettes. So adopters who smoke E-cigarettes and not normal cigarettes can be considered as ex-smokers. They can therefore be approved for children aged 0-5. However, we would say that they should not use E-cigarettes in front of children to minimise the possibility of them becoming influenced by adopters’ use of them. Read more about the adoption process

I’m currently with another agency, and would like to withdraw

If you’re in the adoption process with another agency, we’re unable to take you through our process until you’ve formally withdrawn. You’ll have to speak with the agency you’re currently with about you’re issues and seek guidance from them. Read more about why you should adopt with Adopters for Adoption

I’ve already adopted – what’s the difference in the process?

You would fast track straight to Stage Two of the process. Read more about stage two of the adoption process

I have pets, can I still adopt?

Again, this wouldn’t rule you out of the process at the initial stages; however we must ensure that it’s a safe and secure home for the child.

This would be something to discuss further and reviewed at the home initial visit as it also depends on what pets you have, how many, and if you have an age preference for the child. Read more about home visits and the adoption process

How many references will I need to provide?

You’ll need to supply 3 references, one of which should be a family member. If you’re applying as a couple at least one of these references should know you as a couple.

Referees need to have known you for at least 2 years. Read more about checks and references as part of the adoption process

I’m concerned about using my ‘ex-partner’’ as a reference

We’re skilled and experienced in working out if people have a vested interest in being unnecessarily negative in respect of their ex and whilst not all relationships will have ended well, if we decide we need to speak with the ex, we’ll address all those issues. Adoption assessors are used to speaking with ex’s, and weeding out what is and isn’t relevant or may be just plain unpleasant.

However, sometimes ex-partners give information that is highly relevant and if this may have a negative impact on the process, this will be discussed with the applicant/s, and whilst we can’t give specific details, we’ll explore the issues further.

I haven’t had any contact with my ‘ex- partner’, what alternative details can I provide for the reference?

We’d take any details that you could provide for us and then we’d need to have a further chat regarding the following:

  • Did you live together?
  • How long was the relationship?
  • Did you have children together?
  • Why the relationship ended?
  • Is there someone else who can provide information about your relationship?


We’d then make a decision about whether further efforts are needed to find you’re ‘ex’, and discuss this with you.

Where will panel be held?

Panel will be held at our office in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire which you’ll be invited to attend. Read more about panel as part of the adoption process

What is the ‘Adoption Register’?

The adoption register is an online database that stores the details of children waiting to be adopted where their own Local Authority has not found the right adoptive family to match them. Similarly the database also holds the details of approved adopters who are waiting to be matched with the right child for them.

There’s a team of experienced database operators who work alongside a family placement social worker. Together they look at the information on the database to see whether they can suggest possible matches between children and approved adopters who are waiting. Read more about searching for a child

Can I adopt a child from another country?

Yes it’s possible to do this; however we recommend that you contact First4Adoption on’ll recommend which agency you need to approach as we’re not registered for international adoptions.

We are a same sex couple , can we adopt?

Yes – A change in law in December 2005 allowed adoption orders to be granted to unmarried couples including same sex couples.

Since that time adoption agencies have been able to openly recruit and assess lesbian and gay couples, as well as single adopters, there are many more LGBT adopters and the numbers continue to increase and the UK is now one of the world leaders in this respect.

There has been encouraging research recently into parenting by lesbian and gay adopters. This has helped to dispel myths and a recent UK study shows that:

•The quality of parent-child relationships is just the same when children are adopted by lesbian or gay couples compared to heterosexual couples.

•Children’s psychological development and wellbeing is just the same when children are adopted by lesbian or gay couples compared to heterosexual couples.

•Lesbian and gay adopters are more likely than heterosexual adopters to have come to adoption as their first choice.

•Lesbian and gay adopters felt well equipped to help children deal with difference and that children would have advantages growing up of being tolerant of difference in others.

•Adopted children of lesbian and gay parents don’t experience greater problems at school and in peer relationships compared to children of heterosexual parents, and bullying and teasing is rare.

At AFA we’re committed to seeing the potential in all applicants and we actively encourage enquiries from a diverse range of people.  We don’t make our decisions based on marital status, ethnicity, culture, age, health, disability, sexual orientation or religious beliefs but on your ability to offer a loving, stable home.

Ready to take your next step?

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Adopters for Adoption Limited, is registered company in England and Wales under company registration number 8689629, with the registered office - Malvern View, Saxon Business Park, Hanbury Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B60 4AD.

© Adopters for Adoption 2018