Who can adopt - the facts

There are few factors that will automatically rule you out as an adopter. Our aim is to find loving families for children.

The key is to be totally honest in your application so that all circumstances can be considered in context.

Adoption facts 

  • People can adopt regardless of their marital status. Many single people and unmarried couples have successfully adopted children.
  • Your sexual orientation is not a factor in adopting — we welcome adopters from the LGBTQ+ community.
  • We welcome applications regardless of ethnic background. If you can meet the needs of a child and understand and appreciate the important cultural, religious or linguistic values of their birth community, you will be considered for adoption.
  • You do not have to be a British citizen. You can also adopt if you are not a British citizen but you or your partner must have been a legal resident in the UK for over a year.
  • You are never too old to adopt. Adopters need to be over 21 but there is no upper age limit - so long as you have the health and vitality to see your children through to adulthood. Your health is important as an adoptive parent. As part of the adoption process, you will have a medical exam to ensure you are well enough to manage the day to day challenges of parenting.
  • There is no legal reason why an adopter can’t smoke. However, an adoption agency has a duty to consider the effects of smoking on children especially a child under five, or with disabilities. This may limit the children smokers can be matched with.
  • You can adopt whether you already have your own children or not. As part of the adoption process, consideration will be given to the age gap of the adopted children and your own children.
  • Being on benefits is not a barrier. Your financial circumstances and employment status will be considered as part of an adoption assessment.
  • You do not need to own your home. You can adopt if you are in a rented accommodation and you do not need to have a ‘big’ home, but some children may need their own bedroom.
  • Support is available for adopters who have disabilities. People with disabilities are able to provide a very loving home for a child so don’t rule yourself out before you have had a conversation with an adoption agency. If you need some additional assistance to adopt, an agency may be able to provide this support.
  • More importantly, it is not true that most adoptions breakdown. The vast majority of adoptions (97%) are successful and the experience of ordinary family life gives children the opportunity to rebuild their lives after a difficult start.

Information from the Department of Education, January 2020.