Could you adopt? We help people from all backgrounds and in all situations to become successful adopters. Here are some of the basic criteria that we'd need to discuss with prospective adopters.

Marital Status

Applications are accepted from:

  • Married couples
  • Couples who have a civil partnership
  • Unmarried couples
  • Single people
  • Divorced people

For couples, the stability and length of the partnership will be considered – it’s important that adopted children are placed into secure and stable homes.



If you are applying as a couple, at least one of you must be a resident of the British Isles, or both of you have been ‘habitually resident’ in any part of the British Isles for at least one year ending with the date of the application. A court would not grant an adoption order to anyone who has not got 'leave to remain' in this country. For this reason we would not be able to accept an application before this matter is resolved.

Single applicants must either be residents of the British Isles, or have been ‘habitually resident’ in a part of the British Isles for at least one year before submitting an application.


Applicants must be aged 21 or over. There is no upper age limit but there is an expectation that applicants should be able to see a child through to adulthood.


Applicants need to have good physical and mental health. If you have a disability you should be in a position to manage this effectively. All applicants will be asked to have an adoption medical with their own doctor.

If you have an existing health concern, tell your doctor about your adoption plans, and ask them if they have any advice for you about what you should talk to us about.


It is not a requirement of this Agency that people must have infertility treatment before coming into the adoption process. If you have had fertility treatment this needs to have ended before you commit to the adoption process.

Specified Offences

Anyone wanting approval as adopters, and members of their household aged over 18, must have a Disclosure and Barring Service check. Having a conviction doesn't necessarily prevent you from being considered as an adoptive parent, but there are some ‘Specified Offences’ which automatically prevent you.

Children in the Family

Applications are welcomed from people who already have children, as well as from childless people. Your children’s needs and their attitude to the adoption would need to be considered during the Home Assessment - this includes children living with you, as well as those who live with a previous partner. It would also be the case that children placed for adoption would tend to be younger than any children already in the family.


Applicants may be practising their faith or may be nominal or non-practising or have no religion at all. You will be asked about this because if birth parents have requested that their child is raised in a particular faith, efforts will be made to meet their request.

Reason for Adoption

Adoption Focus believes that all children have the right to a loving and stable family life.  We want to encourage as many people as possible to come forward as potential adopters to make this difference.

Adoptive families may not be experienced parents but they do need to have had some experience of children and to have the ability to parent someone else’s child. If you don't have much experience with children, you need to consider how you could achieve this.

You could:

  • volunteer at a play-group, school or activity group
  • look after your friends children or care for them over a weekend

It is also important to think about why you want to be a parent and what you hope to gain through adoption.



The adoption process is in two stages. Stage One involves registration, initial checks and references and takes two months.  After successful completion of Stage One, applicants may take a break of up to six months before commencing Stage Two, which involves further training and assessment with an allocated social worker. Stage Two can take up to four months and is complete when the recommendation of the Adoption Panel is verified by the Agency Decision Maker. On approval, family finding will begin.


Next step: 


 Preparation process