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England - Procedure to adopt a 'looked-after' Child

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Initial application for adoption
  • The first thing you must do is contact your local adoption agency. They will:
    • Send you general written information about the adoption process, like how long each part will take and the agency's expectation of adopters
    • Invite you to a group information meeting, where you can hear about adoption and talk to adopters about their experiences
    • Give you counselling to help you understand the needs of the children, who may have experienced neglect or abuse in their early childhood
  • The agency will also help you decide if adoption is right for you and your family. If you and the agency agree to proceed, the agency will issue you with an application form.
Preparation, assessment and training
  • When the adoption agency accepts your written application, it will:
    • Invite you to preparation classes - these are normally held locally and offer parenting advice and information on issues like the skills required for adoption, the needs of adopted children and the effect adoption can have on all the people involved
    • Carry out police checks to be sure that you or an adult member of your family have not committed an offence that would make you ineligible to adopt
    • Interview referees who know you and your family
    • Organise for you to have a full medical examination
    • Arrange for a social worker to visit you and carry out a detailed assessment of your suitability to become an adoptive parent - including your strengths and weaknesses, areas you might need support in, and the stability of your relationship if you are adopting as a couple
  • Because of these processes the assessment is demanding, lengthy, in-depth and can feel intrusive. This is so the agency can be sure youre able to meet the needs of the child and can make a success of the adoption.
  • When your social worker has finished your assessment, they will send your papers to the adoption panel. This is a group of people who are experienced in adoption. You will be able to attend the adoption panel meeting to ask and answer questions. The adoption panel will make a recommendation to the agency, which will then make the decision whether or not you are suitable to adopt a child.
How do children become matched with adopters?
  • Once your agency considers you are suitable to adopt, it will begin the process of finding a child whose needs you can meet. If a match doesn't take place after three months, you can be referred to the Adoption Register for England and Wales.
  • The Register holds details of children across England and Wales who need a family. The Register will be searched to identify a child whose needs you can meet. Once a link has been made, your details will be passed on to the childs social worker.
If an adoption agency does not consider you suitable
  • You have two options if you disagree with an adoption agencys decision. You can either:
    • Challenge the agency's decision and explain why you disagree
    • Apply to the Independent Review Mechanism to look into the agencys decision-making process
Support for adoptive parents
  • You and your adopted child may need support and you are entitled to have an assessment of your familys needs. LAs must have the following range of adoption support services available:
    • Advice, information and counselling
    • Financial support
    • Support groups for adopted children and adoptive parents
    • Therapeutic services for adopted children, like re-introducing children with a history of abuse and neglect to sensations of touch, smell, taste and sight through therapeutic games and exercises
    • Support for contact arrangements between an adopted child and their birth family
    • Services to support the relationship between the adopted child and their adoptive parents


Required Documents[edit]

  • Identity proof
  • Residential Proof

Office Locations & Contacts[edit]

Adoption agency near you



Eligibility to apply

  • The following are eligible to apply to adopt:
    • Single people (irrespective of their sexual orientation)
    • A partner of a parent of the child to be adopted
    • Married couples
    • Civil partners
    • Unmarried couples (same sex and different sex) living as partners in a stable family relationship

A child's eligibility for adoption

  • Before the court can make an adoption order, the court has to be satisfied of all of the following:
    • The child was under the age of 18 when the adoption application was made
    • The child is not or has never been married or in a civil partnership
    • Both birth parents have given their consent to the adoption
  • In some cases, it is not necessary to get consent from the birth parent or guardian. This happens when:
    • The birth parent or guardian cannot be found or is incapable of giving consent
    • The child's welfare would be at risk if the adoption order was delayed


Explain the fees structure which is required for obtaining the certificate/document.


Explain the time until which the certificate/document is valid.
e.g. Birth Certificate Valid Forever

Documents to Use[edit]

Please attach documents which can be used by people who would like to follow this procedure.    


Sample Documents[edit]

Please attach sample completed documents which would help other people who would like to follow this procedure.    

Processing Time[edit]

  • The time it takes to adopt will vary. It will take just over eight months for the adoption agency to complete its assessment of your suitability to adopt. It could then just take a matter of weeks for the agency to match you with a child.
  • Once the child goes to live with you, it is for you to decide when to apply to the court for an adoption order. However, the child must have lived with you for at least ten weeks. An adoption order means that parental rights and responsibilities for the child are given to the adoptive parents.

Related Videos[edit]

Videos explaining the procedure or to fill the applications. 
Attach videos using the following tag <&video type="website">video ID|width|height<&/video&> from external websites.
Please remove the "&" inside the tags during implementation.
Website = allocine, blip, dailymotion, facebook, gametrailers, googlevideo, html5, metacafe, myspace, revver, 
sevenload, viddler, vimeo, youku, youtube
width = 560, height = 340, Video ID = Can be obtained from the URL of webpage where the video is displayed.
e.g In the following url "" Video ID is "Y0US7oR_t3M". 



  • If you are at least 21 years old and can provide a permanent, stable and caring home, your application to adopt will be welcomed. There is no upper age limit.
  • Your application will be considered on the basis of whether you can meet the adopted childs needs. It does not matter whether you own your own home or are in or out of work.
  • You and all adult members of your household will be required to have a police check.
  • You do not need to be a British citizen. However, if you are adopting as a couple with your spouse or partner:
    • One of you must be domiciled in the British Islands and both of you have to have been habitually resident there for at least one year before you apply to the court for an adoption order
  • If you are adopting as a single person:
    • You must be domiciled in a part of the British Islands and have to have been habitually resident there for at least one year before you apply to the court for an adoption order
  • British Islands means England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You should seek legal advice if you are unsure whether you are domiciled or habitually resident in the British Islands.
Adoption orders
  • Only a court can make an adoption order. The effect of the adoption order is that the birth parents no longer have any parental rights and responsibilities for their child. Those rights and responsibilities are given to the adoptive parents.
  • Once the court has made an adoption order the child becomes a full member of the adoptive family. They take the surname of their adoptive parents and have the same rights and privileges as if they had been born to them. This includes the right of inheritance.

Required Information[edit]

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality
  • National Insurance number
  • Contact address
  • Telephone/Mobile number
Adopted child Birth Details
  • Surname at birth
  • Forename(s) at birth
  • Other names known by prior to adoption
  • Full name of birth mother
  • Any previous name(s) of birth mother
  • Full name of birth father
  • Any previous name(s) of birth father
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Place of birth


Need for the Document[edit]

A looked-after child is one who is in public care. This means they are looked after by a local authority (LA). To adopt a looked-after child you will need to submit an application to an adoption agency, which will assess your suitability. Then the court will decide whether to make an adoption order in your favour.

Information which might help[edit]

Enter other informations which might help

Other uses of the Document/Certificate[edit]

Please explain what are other uses of obtaining this document/certificate.
e.g. Birth Certificate can be used as proof of identity.

External Links[edit]

  • Directgov The process of adopting a 'looked-after' child
  • Adoption records (government, citizens and rights section)



More information which might help people.