Who can adopt

General questions

If you are over 21 years old, you can adopt. We are looking for individuals and couples who can give a child, and especially brothers and sisters, a loving, supportive and forever family life.

Yes. Single people make great adopters. We also welcome individuals who may choose to parent with the support of their extended family. Having a strong network of friends is beneficial to you and the child (or children) you will be a parent to.

Yes you can! 1 in 7 UK adopters are from the LGBTQ+ community.

All applicants go through the same process, regardless of your sexuality, gender, whether you are single or in a relationship.

As with all couples who are looking to adopt, we expect you to be in a 'live in', enduring and stable relationship for at least one year when you start the adoption process.

Most children need a room of their own to settle into. If you already have children, it can be difficult for a child who is joining your family to share a bedroom when there is another child from your family sleeping and spending time in a room they feel is their own. Every family is different, so we will talk to you about how you think sleeping arrangements could work, both now and in the future.

If you are adopting a baby, and you do not have a bedroom ready in the short term, then we can consider them sleeping in a cot in your bedroom. You should have a clear plan for sleeping arrangements for when they are around six months old and ready to move into their own room, or to share a bedroom with another sibling.

Yes. You may already have experience looking after your own children, your friends or family. However, to start the adoption process, you (and your partner, if a couple) will need to have gained recent experience helping, supporting and spending time with children who are not familiar to you.

Why is this necessary?

As a potential parent, you may be welcoming a child/ren that may have been neglected, seen or experienced very difficult situations. Some children however old they are may have anxiety and find it difficult when they live in a new home with lots of new experiences or they may need time to adjust, building trust and an attachment to you.

Like many people who work or volunteer in nurseries and after school clubs, we encourage you to gain experience with children who would depend on you whilst they are in your care, building a good rapport with them. Spending regular time helping and supporting little ones who you don’t know, will enable you to understand more about building confident relationships, trust and understanding.

This will also link with some of the parenting methods we offer during the assessment and training process that will help you to be a positive parent, with a range of flexible therapeutic parenting techniques.

How do I organise this experience?

You may already work in a professional child setting, but if you haven’t gained these skills, start with volunteering in a childcare setting such as a childminder, after school club, in a nursery or even Brownies or Cubs. You will need a DBS (Police check) which you may need to pay for or organise with the setting directly (this is around £23 – request a basic DBS check).

Try searching online for nurseries or childcare establishments in your area and calling to see if you can volunteer on a regular basis now and throughout your adoption assessment. We can also signpost you where we have existing knowledge of opportunities. Once you have set up your childcare experience, please let us know, and we can consider a pre-stage video call with one of our social workers.

We value all childcare experience and consider everyone on an individual basis, so please call our friendly duty team with any questions, including the childcare experience you already have on 0300 3000 011 or request a call back.

There are adopters who have committed very minor offences when they were younger. Being honest and open about your past life is extremely important and helps us to understand who you are.

Some offences will prevent you from adopting. These include offences against children, sexual offences and other extreme offences which may cause us concern based on their severity. As part of the application process, we will run checks with the Police Disclosure & Barring Service on anyone over 18 years old who lives in your home.

If you have previously worked or lived abroad for more than one year, you will need to organise an Overseas Criminal Check. Over 64 countries participate in a reciprocal scheme.

You will need to advise us as soon as possible, as the process can take some time to be completed. We can help you find out who you need to contact.

We welcome enquiries from people who are UK residents, or who are domiciled in Britain. To adopt in England applicants must be legally resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and have been so for at least 12 months. UK citizens living abroad cannot adopt a child from the UK.

Health

As a society, there are many different ways we define being fit and healthy.

As part of the adoption process, we ask all our applicants to have a medical assessment, conducted by your GP, to help us understand more about your lifestyle.

People who are overweight sometimes have higher health risks. We will assess whether your health and lifestyle affect your ability to parent in the short and long term.

Being a parent is also about giving your children a healthy and positive lifestyle.

There are many adopters who have a disability.

As with all applicants, we will ask you to have an independent medical assessment during the early stages of the adoption process. This helps us make the best decision for a child (or children) based on your ability to parent in a safe, secure and long term loving home life.

If you are unsure, please ask us when you are looking at adoption. We are here to answer any of your questions.

Many people, at some point in their lives, will suffer from anxiety, stress or depression.

Mental health covers such a wide range of areas and circumstances, and can be managed with medication or ongoing therapy.

Our role is to understand how you (and your partner, if a couple) are affected by any mental health conditions, how this is managed, and whether this may affect a child.

As part of the adoption process, we will ask you to have a medical assessment, conducted by your GP. We also encourage you to have an open discussion with us so we can understand more about you.

We understand and respect that many women and couples who have been through IVF treatment or have not been able to conceive may also be considering adoption. We recognise and accept that everyone's journey can be very different.

Adopting a child is also a highly emotional experience, so we ask that you start your adoption journey when you have had some time to reflect or seek counselling if IVF treatment has not been successful or trying to conceive has been difficult.

You can talk to us during this time, ask questions and update us on how you are. When you are ready to take the next step and formally apply to adopt, we would of course be happy to talk to you further.

If you are thinking about adopting a child under the age of five, or a child with a disability or health condition, you will need to have given up smoking or vaping for at least 8 months before you can start the adoption process.

If you have recently stopped smoking or vaping, and you are at the start of the adoption assessment process, it is beneficial to have some form of medical evidence showing a sustained period where you have stopped completely. We will still welcome you and talk to you about the adoption process. To book a call back time that suits you, call 0300 3000 011.

Lifestyle

Many singles or couples work full-time. You will need to think about your work-life balance and how you are going to provide love, support and daily care for a child or siblings.

Most children will need to settle into their new home. This is a time of great excitement, but it could also be quite overwhelming for a child. From our experience, children settle quicker when you are home full-time and in 'their world'. We ask you to be at home for around six months, either as the primary carer or sharing the responsibility with your partner.

We know this is not always possible, for example if you have your own business. We work with you to find a balance that's right for your child or children, so their needs are not compromised for at least the first year in some form of suitable family arrangement.

You may also be able to claim adoption leave and adoption pay from your employer.

We welcome individuals and couples who rent, or live in shared ownership or social housing, with evidence of a formal agreement in place.

Yes. There is no upper age limit to adoption. We welcome individuals and couples from all backgrounds to contact us.

If you are already a parent you will have many qualities and experiences a child could greatly benefit from, flourishing in a loving and child-centric home.

All families are different. We spend time understanding how you and your children might feel about another child or siblings being part of your family forever.

We look at the ages of your children when considering who would be the best match for them and for you. Our aim is to minimise the impact of a child or siblings being part of the family. Our post-placement support provides an excellent opportunity to understand more about attachment for all children in the family.

Dogs, cats, chickens, guinea pigs and hamsters can be a great source of delight and compassion for children.

During the first phase of the adoption process, we will carry out a pet assessment. This will identify whether there are any concerns, such as a dangerous dog breed or other animals in the home that may affect a child's safety.

If you have a dog or dogs, we will need to ensure that the breed and dog's history does not present any health and safety risks. This includes dangerous breeds identified by the 1991 Dangerous Dogs Act, rescue dogs or any other concerns we may have. If you can, we ask you to pay for a professional dog assessment. Please talk to us first, as we can help with these costs for individuals and families.

Yes. You will need to be in a long term relationship, living together for at least 12 to 18 months (depending on the length of time of relationship before you lived together) before you can start your adoption journey. This is the same timeframe for married couples and civil relationships. Children will need to be living in a loving and supportive home where their parents are stable in their relationship and have experience of coping with different situations together.

You will need to have a Decree Absolute in place to start Stage 1 of our assessment process, and all financial matters and living arrangements must be resolved if there are any other children involved.

Yes. We welcome individuals and couples from all cultural and faith backgrounds. People who are part of communities have a tendency to support and care for others. This is a wonderful environment for children to grow up in and have a sense of belonging.

Finance

You don't need thousands of pounds in savings to adopt.

Children placed with their forever family will need a financial and stable home life. This means the household can absorb the additional costs of having an additional child or siblings, together with minimal concerns about money. Parents will need to be able to provide their child with healthy and wholesome meals every day, clothing and cherished times.

This is not determined by holidays abroad, a new car, a big house or high value purchases. You can be claiming Universal Credit and other benefits to help support your family.

Our children need caring and loving homes where they feel fulfilled by their parents and the support they have around them.

Yes. There are adopters who are on a low income and claim financial support through Universal Credits and the Pupil Premium Grant scheme.

We can direct you to the various Government websites and agencies for you to explore more about financial support for children.

The process of adopting a child or siblings through a Regional Adoption Agency is managed and paid by us. The only costs you may be asked to pay for include a medical assessment for each adult over 18 years old who will be living with the child or children. If you have a dog or dogs, you will be asked to have an independent dog assessment. At the point you are adopting a child or sibling, you will also be asked to pay for an Adoption Order Application.

We ask applicants and approved adopters to meet the cost of this themselves if they can. We can help to fund it if you can't afford to do so, or if you are on a low income. We encourage you to discuss this with us if you would like to find out more.

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