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General FAQs


Here you can find our most frequently asked questions about adoption, broken up into the following categories; General, Children Waiting, Qualities Needed to Adopt, Health Issues, The Adoption Process.

General FAQs

Why should I choose Families For Children?

Families for Children offer the same service as Local Authorities in terms of taking you through the adoption application and assessment. However in addition we provide a unique adoption support service which is free and for life should you need it.

When it comes to matching you with a child Families for Children will also have access to a larger pool of children as we can search for children from all over the UK.

What Is Adoption?

Adoption is a way of providing the security, permanency and love of a new family when it is not possible for a child to be raised by his/her birth parents or within the birth family.

Adoption is a legal process which transfers parental responsibility from the child’s birth parents to their adoptive parents. The Adoption Order is granted by a court when the child(ren) have been living with the prospective adopters  and all concerned, including the child, are happy. Once an Adoption Order is made it cannot be revoked.

What is the difference between adoption and fostering?

Adoption is a legal process, with a court permanently transferring all parental rights and responsibilities for the child to their new family. The child becomes part of the adoptive family, as if they had been born into it, even taking their surname. Adoption has significant legal, emotional, psychological and social consequences for everyone involved: it is a life-changing moment for adoptive parent(s), child and birth relatives.

Fostering is a way of providing family life for someone else’s child, when they are unable to live in their birth family – with the expectation that most will hopefully return home.

Where this is not possible, the local authority will look at alternatives, such as the child being cared for by other relatives, or possibly adoption or permanent fostering.

Unlike adoption, a fostered child remains the legal responsibility of the local authority and/or their birth parents.

Who can adopt?

Anyone over the age of 21 can be considered as an 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 a child and how you can best fulfill 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.

I'm not a UK resident, can I still apply to adopt?

No you cannot apply unless you or your partner are a UK resident. Your permanent home must be in the UK at the time of assessment.

Can I adopt if I already have children?

Yes. We normally recommend that there is at least a two year gap, ideally three, between the age of your youngest child and the child you adopt.

I am over 50, can I adopt?

There is no upper age limit when determining who can adopt. However the assessment will take into account your physical ability to look after a child and the child’s needs. In turn this may have a bearing on the age of the child you will have to consider.

I am single, can I adopt?

Yes you do not have to be in a relationship to apply to adopt. Families for Children has a good network of single adopters both women and men.

My application was turned down by another adoption agency, can I reapply through Families For Children?

It doesn’t automatically exclude you from applying to us. Please contact us to discuss.

Do we have to remain in touch with the agency after legal adoption?

It’s entirely down to you!  FFC offer  an excellent post adoption support service, whenever you need us and for as long as you need us.  We also offer a number of activities with other adoptive families and support groups, and can steer you towards finding the right support for you at the right time.

Children who need adopting FAQs

Why do children need adopting?

Children waiting to be adopted have usually been removed from the birth families due to neglect or abuse. Many have experienced extreme trauma in those early months/years and once the social worker has decided the child cannot remain with their birth family or extended family a plan for adoption will be made and authorised by the court. It is then the child will be placed with a foster family.

Many children may require additional help and support as they grow due to medical or delayed development. Many have extra/specific needs of an emotional, behavioural, physical or learning nature. Some may have brothers and sisters who need to be together.

Where are the children waiting to be adopted?

Children who have adoption as their plan will be being looked after by Local Authorities. The majority of them will be with a foster carer.

Does my adopted child have contact with their birth family?

Contact with birth relatives is determined before placement of a child and is agreed between social workers, birth and adoptive family. Contact can be direct (planned meetings face to face) or indirect via newsletter.  Indirect contact is the norm, and usually involves updates being sent confidentially through a Local Authority Co-ordinating Service at prearranged times in the year.  Letterbox Contact (as indirect is often called) is usually once a year – twice at most.  Any contact plans are put together in the best interests of the child, and need to be flexible as the child’s needs change over time.

What should I do when my child starts asking about their birth parents?

You will be fully prepared by your social worker during the assessment process about how to deal with the inevitable questions from your child about their history. This preparation will be more specifically dealt with during the matching process as well. The child will have with them a completed life story book and a later life letter about their early life. Should you have any questions we are here to help and you can call us for advice at any time. Does my adopted child have contact with their birth parents, brothers and sister, or other relatives?

Can we adopt a baby?

There are fewer babies available for adoption then there are priority children. However it is worth noting that many Local Authorities across the UK now prefer to place their very young babies under Fostering to Adopt regulations. It is a good idea to check out what this will involve so that you are clear about the commitments.  Any of the Families for Children Social Workers would be happy to talk this through with you.

How many children can I adopt?

During your assessment your Social Worker will discuss with you the number, and age of children that feels right for you.  As well as single children, there are many groups of 2, 3 and 4 children who need to stay together if possible and the feasibility of you taking a sibling group in one go will be fully discussed between you and your assessing Social Worker.  Some adopters prefer to adopt a group all at once, and others prefer to adopt one child at a time.

After a successful adoption many of our families will go on to adopt again.

Qualities needed to adopt FAQs

What if I can't cope

Families for Children provide a full post adoption service offering advice, counselling and various other services after a child has been placed with you. We will be there for support and guidance whenever and for as long as you need us.

What would prevent me from being considered to adopt?

The obvious ban would be a history of specific offences,  such as child abuse.  This aside, anyone over the age of 21 can be considered, and during the assessment process you will be subject to a number of checks including a medical and enhanced police record check (DBS).

Do I need a full time job?

Having an adopted child can be very demanding, so work life balance would need to be explored on an individual basis. Your financial situation will be looked at during the assessment along with your ability to provide for a child.

How much time will I need to take off work when I adopt?

It is expected that you will need to take some leave from work when a child is placed with you.  How much, and how flexible you will need to be depends to a large extent on the needs of the child or children placed.  If you are employed you may be entitled to statutory adoption leave, and payment for this depends on individual employers.

Do I get financial support?

You are entitled to the same benefits as if the child was your birth child. In exceptional circumstances Local Authorities can provide an adoption allowance but these are very limited.

Do I have to be religious?

No. Although Families for Children is a Christian agency we are pleased to welcome enquiries from other faiths and cultures. As a Christian organisation concerned with the welfare of children, parents and families, our attitudes and practices are shaped by Christian values, we therefore aim to uphold the importance of love, family life and the dignity of each individual.

I have a child with disabilities: will I still be considered if I apply to become an adopter?

Yes. Having a child with disabilities does not exclude you from applying. The needs of an adopted child can be complex and you will be assessed on how you will be able to cope with situations you may find yourself in. Please call us to discuss individual circumstances.

We already have children living at home. Can we adopt?

Yes. Having had children gives you great experience however any child you adopt will need to be a minimum of 2 years younger than your youngest birth child.

We can't have children of our own - can we be considered?

Yes. Not having your own children does not exclude you from adopting. However we would advise that you have some experience with children either through spending time with relative’s children or engaging in some children’s activities maybe in your local community.

Can same sex couples apply?

Yes. We can put you in touch with other same sex couples who have adopted successfully through Families for Children.

Do I need to own my own home?

No you do not need to own your own home. Your living arrangements will be assessed as part of your application. It is however vital that you have a spare room for a child.

Do I need to be rich to be an adopter?

No you do not need to be rich. Your financial status will be assessed as part of your application. You will need to be able to provide for a child.

I have a criminal conviction, can I adopt?

People with a criminal conviction or caution for specified criminal offences against children, or some sexual offences against adults, cannot adopt. For all other offences, even if they happened a long time ago, should be discussed with us early on in your application. You will be subject to a enhanced DBS (formerly CRB) check quite early on in your assessment.

Can we back out after we've applied?

Yes you can withdraw your application at any time including if you have become an approved adopter.

Health Issues FAQs

I have suffered from depression, can I adopt?

Suffering from depression does not immediately exclude you from being able to adopt. How it is managed and how it affects you and could ultimately affect a child and your ability to look after that child will be explored during the assessment.

I have a disability, Can I still apply to adopt?

Having a disability will not exclude you from adopting. You will be assessed according to your ability to meet a child’s needs. As part of the assessment you will have a full medical examination.

I smoke, can I adopt?

Due to the effects of passive smoking on babies and children, Local Authorities are wisely very cautious about placing children in a smoking household. Certainly no children under 5 years old, or with a history of respiratory problems would be placed with you.  You need to have given up smoking for 12 months to be considered a non-smoker, and so we would be unlikely to consider assessing you for adoption until you had given up for at least 6 months prior to the start of the process.

I've had infertility/IVF treatment which has been unsuccessful. How long do I have to wait until I can adopt?

Before considering your adoption application you will have to have completed any infertility treatment. You will need to consider whether you are in a good emotional place to start an application and that you have come to terms with the sadness of not being able to have children naturally. Each situation is different and we would be happy to discuss this.

Do I have to have a medical?

Yes – you will be asked to have a medical assessment quite early on in the adoption process. This will be done by your own GP and they may charge for this. Your GP will then forward their reports onto us and we will pass these on to our medical advisors. They will be looking for any conditions that may affect your ability to look after a child and will make a recommendation. If you do have any concerns about health conditions which you think may have an effect on whether you can adopt which you would like to discuss please call us on 01364 645480.

Can I adopt if I am overweight?

As part of the adoption process you will be asked to have a medical. From your GP’s report our own medical advisor can make recommendations based on your health. If your weight has an affect on your health and ability to care for an active child then this will need to be explored.

The Adoption Process FAQs

Do adoptions break down?

Yes they do.  Families for Children have a far lower disruption rate than the national average of 1 in 5.  We have a wealth of experience in adoption and as a specialist agency, bring our expertise to bear on your assessment so that you are as prepared as you can be for adopting a child, and so that the right match is made from the outset to minimise the chance of this happening.

Must we remain in the UK after the full legal adoption is complete?

Many of the children needing adoption have experienced a great deal of insecurity and changes in their lives, and the additional upheaval resulting from a move abroad, including a possible change of culture and/or language, may not be appropriate for some of them. For other children needing to maintain regular face-to-face contact with their birth family, a move abroad may also be unsuitable. It is important that you discuss any known future plans to move abroad with your social worker, so that they can take this into consideration to help appropriately match you with a child.

How do we choose a child?

Once you are approved as an adopter, you and your Social worker can start the search for a child.  You will be automatically signed up to the Regional Adoption Consortium, the National Adoption Register, and will be able to register yourselves on Adoption Link (your Social Worker will advise you on how to do this and help with content if you want).  Your Social Worker is also linked into a wide network of Local Authorities who are constantly sending profiles of children through, and as an agency we are linked into regular linking meetings with our partner Local Authorities in the South West.  You can if you wish also subscribe to Adoption UK and have sight of their website and magazine.

What is the role of the panel?

The adoption Panel decides whether you can be approved as an adopter. The Families for Children panel is made up of a number of individuals from varying backgrounds and who have different life experiences. The panel also includes a medical advisor. The panel will consider your report and will discuss any concerns/questions with your social worker before they make a recommendation.

How are we prepared for the adoption process?

The adoption process is in two stages with mandatory preparation workshops in each.  In Stage 1 you are expected to attend a day’s workshop covering issues around child abuse, birth family contact, grief and loss, and in Stage 2 it is a 2 day course, covering attachment theory, sensory integration, developmental trauma, PACE parenting, and life story work.  You are also expected to undertake some self-learning and will get guided tasks and information to help you do this.

Will I have to provide references?

Yes – very early on in the assessment process you will be asked for a number of references from people that know you. We will write to them and visit them to help us get to know you better. We may also contact members of your wider family as well.

You will also be subject to an enhanced DBS (formally CRB) check which is a legal requirement.

How long does the adoption process take?

From accepting you onto Stage 1 to being approved, it usually takes about 2 months in Stage 1, and approximately 4 months in Stage 2.  However, this is a rough guide, and it may be that your personal circumstances may mean that it takes longer.  The important thing is that the assessment for your Prospective Adopters Report for panel (and later used for matching) is done well, and done properly rather than be rushed to meet a deadline.  You will be given an estimated panel date when you are accepted onto Stage 2, but this can be flexible depending on your situation. You will be part of any discussion about changing of dates, and also should you need to, or should we feel you need to, we can agree to a period of time on hold at any part of the process.