What is adoption and why do we need it?

Some children cannot live with their birth parents because it is not safe for them to do so due to neglect or abuse. They will often have complex needs. Very few children in the UK are now relinquished for adoption; however a few parents know they cannot give their child the life they want for them and ask the local authority to find them a new family. Adoption is a way of providing a new family for children when living with their own family is not possible. Adopters become the child’s legal parents.

There are other ways that a child’s place in a new family can be secured, for example by asking a court to make a legal order such as a residence order or a special guardianship order. For these children their birth parents remain their legal parents.

Who can adopt? 

  • you must be at least 21 years old - there is no upper age limit
  • you can adopt as a single person; if  you are a couple, you do not have to be married or in a registered civil partnership; you can be a heterosexual couple or a gay or lesbian couple
  • a single person, or one person in a couple must be domiciled in the UK, and  each applicant must have lived in any part of the British Islands for a least one year before they can apply to a court for an adoption order
  • you cannot adopt if you, or any adult living in your home, have been convicted of an offense against a child

What else do adopters need?

There is no 'ideal' adoptive family, but adoptive families do need:

  • warmth, stability and a genuine love of children
  • a good support network
  • willingness and ability to communicate and work with children and professionals
  • patience and a good sense of humour
  • room in their home for a child to grow – although you do not need to own your own home
  • in the Royal Borough we particularly need families from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds that can adopt sibling groups and children over four years old