There any many myths about adoption and you will probably have a lot of questions. The first question is usually “can I adopt?” and we aim to answer that now.
We don’t look for specific types of people; we look for the qualities and life experience which make people suitable to adopt a child. We also provide training and support to build on the abilities you already have, so it’s more about your potential than where you are now.
Remember, everyone’s circumstances are different so don’t rule yourself out before you’ve spoken to us.
Here are some of the most common questions that we get asked.
We welcome applications from any prospective adopters within 60 – 90 minutes’ drive from our offices in West Bridgford, Nottingham. This includes Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire.
Legally, you must be over 21 to adopt. There is no legal upper age limit. We will need to see that you are in good health and likely to be able to support an adopted child into adulthood, but many people in their 40s and 50s have successfully adopted children.
If you want to adopt as a couple, it isn’t necessary for you to be married or in a civil partnership. As long as you can demonstrate that you are in a stable, enduring relationship, you will be able to apply together to become adoptive parents. As such we would expect you to have lived together for at least 2 years.
We seek a number of references from people who know you well. We need references because we must be as satisfied as possible that the child’s new parents will keep them safe and well. This includes previous partners where a prospective adopter has been married, lived with a partner, or had children or parented/been a step-parent to children with an ex-partner. We will talk to you to decide how best to get the information we need depending on your specific circumstances.
We understand the ending of a previous relationship may have been difficult. If we do receive negative information, we will seek to gather additional information to assess the veracity of this. We realise that there is the potential for malicious references, although in reality this is very rare. We often receive positive information from these references which can be helpful for the assessment.
We also understand that there may be some circumstances, for example where there has been domestic violence, where it may not be appropriate for us to contact a previous partner. In these circumstances your social worker will discuss with you obtaining a reference from someone who knew you during the time of the relationship.
We will also contact birth children/step-children/adopted children (who are now over 18) for a reference.
An on-going health condition or disability will not necessarily prevent you from adopting.
As part of the adoption process, you will have a medical. It is conducted by your own GP who will usually charge a fee for this. (At present, the fee is usually between £80-150pp) Our medical advisor will receive the results from this and assess your health and how it might affect your ability to care for a child. If you have been receiving treatment for a particular condition our medical advisor would contact your consultant or other specialist as part of his assessment.
Being on medication does not prevent you from adopting. Children need parents who are physically and mentally well and we will seek advice from your GP about how you are managing. Becoming a parent can be stressful and demanding, and we need adopters to feel well supported and mentally robust.
If in doubt about this (or any other medical condition) talk to your GP about your adoption plans, and ask their opinion about your health.
Being disabled will NOT automatically exclude you from becoming an adoptive parent. In fact, you may have specific experience and understanding which would make you an especially good adoptive parent. Talk to us before ruling yourself out.
Yes you can – the age gap between your birth children and any prospective adoptive children will be considered, as will each child’s position within the family. We work closely with you to ensure that the needs of ALL the children involved are recognised. A new child joining the family would usually be the youngest.
If you have children who live elsewhere, it is also important that they are included in the preparation process.
Lots of families have pets and these can be really positive for children. We know that pets can play a hugely positive part in family life and owning dogs, cats or other pets is not usually a problem. But the child’s needs, of course, are the priority and during the assessment process you’ll be asked about how pets are cared for, whether or not they are used to children and what you would do if any children placed could not manage with the pets (e.g. allergies or a dog displaying agitated, snappy behaviour around children). A pet assessment is completed during the process and we may ask you to obtain further advice from your vet.
We need to be as confident as we can be that your health will not adversely impact on your parenting in the short or long term. For this reason adopters are asked to consider their diet and lifestyle. If your weight is considered to be out of healthy weight range, this can affect your current health as well as put you at a higher risk of health problems in the future. It can also affect your fitness and mobility and impact on your parenting an active child.
You may be asked to discuss your weight at the beginning of the process and depending on your circumstances you may be asked to consider losing weight. We would be very happy to provide prospective adopters with advice and support in relation to this issue.
If you hope to adopt a child aged 0–5 years, you will be asked to give up smoking (this includes e cigarettes and vaping) at least six months before the home study phase (Stage 2) of the process starts because of the medically recognised associated health risks to children. Smoking presents a concern because of its damaging effects on health. In addition, passive smoking is damaging to the health of any adult or child in the vicinity of the smoke. An adoption agency has a duty to consider the effects of smoking on children in their care.
Whilst you ‘may’ still be eligible to adopt an older child, the Local Authority responsible for the child would ultimately make the decision as to whether they felt you were a suitable adopter if you smoke. We would strongly urge you to try and quit smoking for your own and the child’s health. Please read our latest leaflet on smoking and adoption.
Fertility Treatment of any type needs all of your attention – and so does adoption. If you are still hoping to achieve a successful pregnancy through fertility treatment, you need to focus on this before embarking on the adoption process.
If your fertility treatment is successful, you will be enjoying your pregnancy and will not be in a position to adopt.
When we place a child, their adoptive parents must feel committed to them, and to do this they need to have given themselves time to grieve for the birth child they did not have. We therefore strongly recommend a gap of at least 6 months before ending any treatment and beginning the adoption process. The adoption process is intensive and demanding, and in our experience, couples benefit from a period of coming to terms with the idea of not having a birth child before preparing to become a family through adoption.
Your upbringing itself does not determine whether you are suitable to adopt, but rather how you reflect on your earlier experiences, whether positive or negative, and what you have learnt from these, is most important. Individuals who have overcome difficult past experiences are often able to use these positively to show that they are resilient and determined – two important characteristics for anyone who wants to become an adoptive parent.
Being in work full time will not necessarily exclude you from becoming an adoptive parent. Certainly, you would be encouraged to take an extended period of adoption leave from work. Most children placed for adoption will have had to cope with lots of changes. We therefore recommend that one parent is at home full time for at least 6 months to allow a child time to settle into their new home. Your work and financial situation will always be considered – talk to us first.
Adding to your family and taking a break from work may stretch your finances. Ongoing financial support from the local authority may be available for some children, usually because they have additional needs or are part of a sibling group.
Adoption Leave, including Shared Parental Leave and Statutory Adopter Pay is now available to those who are in employment.
It isn’t necessarily true that a criminal record will prevent you from becoming an adoptive parent. As long as you have no convictions for offences against children or certain sexual or violent offences against an adult, your application may still be considered. The key is to be totally honest in your application.
We will give consideration to the type of offence, when it was committed, the extent to which it has a bearing on being a parent, and whether it was revealed at the time of application and how you have reflected on your past actions. Talk to us first, be completely honest, and we will advise you further.
If there is anything you are at all unsure about please give us a call.
There is someone available 9 – 5 every weekday on 0115 9558811, just say you are making an adoption enquiry and you’ll be put through to one of our social workers for a confidential chat.
You can also come along to our monthly First Thursday events where you can find out more about the process. See our website for details.
Children need families – we are looking to rule people in, not rule them out.
It may be easier to adopt than you think…
Adopt Together is Faith in Families Adoption Service and we believe that every child has the right to grow up as part of a loving and nurturing family. We welcome enquiries from people from all walks of life and from any background. You can be:
In a committed long term relationship
In a single sex relationship
Homeowner or living in rented accommodation
Employed, self employed or unemployed
Have no children or already be a parent
Be of any ethnicity or faith
Have a disability
There is no upper age limit but you will have to be over 21, a UK resident and hold no criminal convictions against children
We need all kinds of families for all kinds of children
If you have lots of energy, good health, understanding, commitment, patience, a sense of humour and the motivation to complete your family through adoption then you have what it takes.
Our dedicated and friendly team are always happy to talk through your expectations and answer any queries you may have. If you would like to speak with one of our team please fill in our enquiry form or call 0115 955 8811.
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