Who can adopt?

There are many myths surrounding adoption but  anyone over the age of 21 can be considered as a potential adopter, regardless of marital status, disability, gender, religion, sexual orientation, income or whether you have parenting experience or not.

There is no such thing as an ‘ideal’ adoptive family and when we are looking for families we are interested in what you can offer to a child and how you can best fulfil their individual needs.

We are looking for families from a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds who can offer a permanent loving home and a secure environment to a child.

In the section below we will help you understand the criteria used to assess potential adopters.


You can be assessed regardless of marital status. Married or unmarried couples, single people and couples in civil partnerships can apply to adopt. The stability and permanency of your relationship will be assessed.


The only legal age limit in place is that you have to be 21 years old to be considered as an adopter. There is no upper age limit but age is one factor which will be taken into consideration when looking at providing a stable and loving home environment.  We have many adopters in their late 40’s and early 50’s.


Parenting whether you are adopting or have birth children, is both physically and emotionally demanding. Your general health or any disability you may have must still enable you to meet the challenges our children may bring. Your health will be assessed on this basis.

We have assessed many adopters with different disabilities, including hidden disabilities and health conditions.  If you have a pre-existing health condition that you are worried might be a barrier to adoption, you can discuss confidentially with one of our Social Workers.  In some cases we may request a medical to be undertaken as early as possible in Stage 1 in order to be clear about any limitations that might come about as a result of the condition.


We welcome applications from a wide range of people whatever their sexual orientation.


Religion is not a determining factor in considering a person for adoption. We will of course take any religious beliefs into consideration when placing a child to ensure any placement meets with the beliefs of both child and parents where required.

Other Children

If you have birth children, or have fostered children, you are still eligible to adopt. Any children in your care will be considered as part of the assessment process.  Parenting an adopted child can be very different from parenting a birth child, so an openness to possibly having to approach the parenting role differently is important.  The age of your birth children or other children within the family, may mean that we suggest you wait a while before starting the adoption process, as we like the adopted child to be the youngest in the family usually by about 2 years.  Whether or not you have had birth children, it is a great asset to have some experience of children, particularly of the ages you are thinking you would like to adopt, so we often recommend undertaking babysitting for family and friends, or volunteering as a good way of getting experience.

Criminal History

Enhanced DBS (formallyCRB) checks will be undertaken during the application process.  Minor offences would not prevent you being approved, but offences that have affected the safety and stability of a child will be taken very seriously and may prevent you from adopting.

Can I be considered if I had fertility treatment?

You can be considered for adoption after having fertility treatment.  However, we do recommend a time gap of at least 6 months after treatment is finished before you apply to adopt.  You are likely to have been through an emotional experience and you need time to adjust and to consider the implications of adoption carefully.

What skills will I need to adopt?

Many children who need  adoptive families have experienced some degree of neglect, and/or physical, emotional or sexual abuse from within their birth families, members of which may have been misusing drugs or may have spent time in prison, for example. All of these children will have experienced the loss and grief of being separated from their birth families and their past experiences will affect their behaviour and development in a variety of ways.  For example, some children will express their feelings through challenging behaviour such as tantrums, and aggression, or show quite the opposite and be very withdrawn.

These children need lots of extra attention and the love and stability of a new family, in many cases, is all that is needed to help these children thrive and meet their greatest potential. However, some may need extra support in the form of specialist therapies to help them come to terms with their past.

At Families for Children we are looking for people with all sorts of skills to adopt all sorts of children. These could include:

  • People who can communicate with children and see the world through their eyes and who have had some experience with children.
  • People who will value and understand a child’s past experiences and empathize with their trauma and loss.
  • People who are adaptable and emotionally strong.
  • People who will learn and seek support.
  • People who will commit to a child thorough good and bad times.
  • People who are patient, sensitive, flexible, energetic and have a sense of humour!