References and checks are required for applicants because adoption agencies have a responsibility to make sure that adoptive parents do not pose a risk to the children who could be placed with them. As part of this process, Adoption Focus will request references from friends and family of applicants and obtain relevant information from other sources.

If you have any queries or concerns about reference checks please contact us for confidential advice from our duty social worker.

Some of the checks that we will need to perform in support of your application are listed below:

  • Employers (current for all applicants and previous employers where you have worked with children and/or vulnerable adults or if you have either recently or regularly changed jobs).
  • A report from the Local Authorities you have lived in during the last ten years

  • Written reports of interviews with three personal referees nominated by you – one from a relative and two from people who you know you well. At least one of the referees should have known you for a minimum of five years

  • Details and verification of your income and outgoings

  • If you have children – a written reference from your child’s school or health visitor

  • A written report from your GP about your health, after a full medical examination. Further reports may be sought if you have been receiving treatment for a chronic or acute condition, where a consultant is involved in your care



The Disclosure and Barring Service

Anyone who wants to adopt a child must have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Anyone over the age of 18 years who lives in the household must also have this check.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) searches police records and barred list information, and then issues a DBS certificate to the applicant.

Having a previous conviction, caution, reprimand or warning will not necessarily prevent a person from being considered as an adopter, but it is helpful to let your Agency know as soon as possible if this is the case.

There are some specified offences which would prevent an Adoption Agency from considering a person as an adopter. Specified offences include nearly all crimes against children, and some sexual offences against adults. They are set out in the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005.

If the DBS certificate reveals offences which are not specified, and don't stop the assessment from going any further, they may still be relevant to suitability. For example, if someone has several recent drink driving or public disorder offences - this may suggest an alcohol problem.

Next step:


Assessment and more learning


You can find out more about requirements for adoption references and checks at one of our regular information events. 


Adoption Information Events