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Here is a list of the most common questions we get asked. If your question doesn’t appear, click the ask a question link above and we’ll do our best to answer it.

For more information, request a free information pack or alternatively, feel free to call us on 0300 123 1066 for a confidential chat.

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Adoption FAQ

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Do we have to be married to adopt?

No. If you are a couple applying to adopt you don’t have to be married but you do need to be living together and in a stable relationship. We welcome applications from couples from across the community including the LGBTQ community.

I am single, can I adopt?


There is nothing unusual about single parenting – around 25% of households in the UK with dependent children are headed by a single parent.

It has been possible for single people to adopt for many, many years and we have approved and placed children with many single adopters. 10% of children, 420 children, adopted between 2012 and 2013 were adopted by single adopters.

Can I adopt if I have health issues?

As part of applying to adopt applicants have a medical that is usually conducted by their own G.P. Many health issues do not prevent people from adopting and the medical is influential in helping us decide about this.

In general, we are looking for people who are physically fit and well enough to manage the day to day challenges of adopting and who have a good enough level of emotional wellbeing to cope with the stresses that applying to adopt and parenting can bring.

We are sometimes asked in particular about weight and BMI. We do not have fixed rules about BMI and welcome applications from all, but where there is an applicant with a BMI over 40 this issue will need careful exploration throughout the assessment process and applicants need to be able to provide evidence of a healthy lifestyle and commitment to weight loss.

We have been in a relationship for 6 months, can we adopt?

While there is no regulatory requirement for a couple to be in a relationship for a specified period of time before they can adopt, the adoption process can be stressful and we would need some evidence that a relationship is likely to be able to withstand the adoption process before we start any assessment and applicants also need to be able to provide references who can comment on the strength of their partnership.

Therefore, usually we would expect that a couple have lived together for about two years before we progress any enquiry. If you have any questions about this or your relationship is less than two years please speak to us for advice.

Can I adopt if I have a pet?

Of course, children love animals! However, we have to ensure that whatever pets you have are safe to be around children. We carry out a dog assessment as standard for all applicants who apply to adopt with Adoption Matters, these assessments are carried out by an independent professional company. We may also ask for further assessments on other animals if we feel suitable.

Are there any costs to adopt?

Adoption agencies do not charge to assess or approve adopters for domestic adoption, that is an adoption made in the UK. There are costs that apply to Inter-country adoption, full information is available here. 

Adoption Matters is a registered charity and not for profit organisation. However, prospective adopters do incur some costs during the process.

You will require a medical with your own GP who will charge a fee of around £80 – £120 per person. This fee is set by your own GP, not by ourselves and does vary depending on where you live and your own GP’s arrangements.

If you have lived overseas, there may also be charges for overseas checks, which again, will vary depending on the country.

When an adoption application is made to court, there is a one-off court fee of around £170. One child or multiple siblings filed together is one fee of £170. If filed separately, and at different times, then a fee is payable of £170 each time.

The local authority looking after the child usually covers the court fees on behalf of the adopters and should also make a commitment to pay any additional legal fees or court costs, so this should not be a cost to you.

There are other costs that may you need to consider such as time off work to attend meetings and training, travel and childcare expenses and then possible lifestyle changes in the future such as additional childcare costs or reducing your hours, but we will discuss all this with you during your assessment.

As a charity, we are unable to assist or reimburse any fees or costs that you may incur during your assessment and/or adoption process including in the event you decide to withdraw your application and/or are not approved as an adopter.

Can I/we adopt a baby?

Yes, we have a need for adopters for a wide age range of children from babies right up to 7 year olds. We treat each enquiry on an individual basis so do contact us for an informal chat with one of our experienced social workers on our advice line which is staffed every week day from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, call free on 0300 123 1066.

Can I adopt a child from a different ethnic background to my own?

Yes, you can adopt a child from a different ethnicity. There are currently far more Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children in the care system than there are Black, Asian and other ethnic background adopters. In fact, children of Black Caribbean, African or dual heritage ethnicity, wait on average wait 20 months for a family, longer than any other children currently waiting. This additional wait time is partly because social work professionals will try and ‘match’ a child/ren to meet with their ethnic and cultural background/needs first so children may experience more delay as there are not enough adopters waiting.

We have placed many children with individuals and families who have a different ethnicity to their own and provide lots of advice and support throughout the process.

What is important is that you can meet the the child’s identified needs. We would encourage and support you to help your adopted child/ren to understand and appreciate the important cultural, religious or linguistic values of their birth community. Adopters of a child of a different culture and ethnicity to themselves have a responsibility to help their children define themselves as a member of their own culture and ethnicity at the same time as bringing them into the new culture that is already present in the family. We will help and support you with this.

The following questions will help you think about some of the issues that you and the child would need to face & consider:

  • Do you live in an area where there is a diverse population? Would there be other children in the nursery or school that reflect a range of ethnicities?
  • Do you have people in your network of different backgrounds that could help you support a child to develop knowledge and understanding about their ethnic and cultural background?
  • How would you support a child to be confident about feeling different from other family members because of their ethnic and cultural background?
  • How would you help a child to understand and connect to their ethnic heritage?

Read Amy & Ben’s adoption story here on how they promote their children’s ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Can I adopt if I/we have a disability?

Having a disability does not exclude people from becoming adopters and it is widely recognised that people with disabilities can often provide a very loving home for a child. Disability is only one of the many issues that we will consider so don’t rule yourself out.

It is also recognised that the life experiences of people with a disability can give them a unique insight into the lives of children in care, who often have a sense of themselves as ‘different’ or who may also have a disability. Living alongside disability in the context of positive relationships can teach children the importance of inclusivity and how to value difference.

As part of the adoption assessment you will undergo a full medical with your own GP. Their recommendation to is sent to an adoption panel Medical Adviser who will assess the information provided our assessing social workers will also explore with you any potential impact this may have on parenting and how these would be managed.

What leave are adopters entitled to?

Employed adopters are usually entitled to adoption leave and may be entitled to adoption pay, which is a legal right. Some employers may offer a more generous scheme than the statutory one, but they cannot offer less than the statutory amounts.

The below document outlines guidance to employers for adoption leave:

Technical guidance for employers changes to adoption pay 2015

What checks are required?

There are lots of checks required for applicants wishing to adopt. This is guided by law and governed by the Government body Ofsted. The checks are to ensure that we place vulnerable children in the safest and stable homes possible. They include, police checks known as DBS, education, probation, social services, we will ask you for several personal references and will need to speak to your previous partners.

If you currently or have previously worked with children, we will need to seek employer references. There are certain criminal convictions that are considered a bar to adoption but we will look into all criminal convictions on an individual basis and take into consideration the circumstances and time of the offence/s. We would ask you to be honest and advise any convictions as early in the process as possible so we can discuss this with you.

Are there any residence restrictions for adoption?

Yes, it is essential that you are clear about your domicile and habitual residence as early as possible. For single applicants, the law states that they must either be domiciled in the UK, or habitually resident for at least a year before making an application. For couples, one of the applicants must be domiciled in the UK or both must be habitually resident in the UK for at least a year before making an application to adopt. In in doubt, talk to us and we may recommend that you seek independent legal advice.

How long does the adoption process take?

The adoption process should take around 6 months. In general, the timescale for completion of Stage 1 (from your registration of interest to formal application) – we take this at your pace, but aim to complete it in 2 months.

For Stage 2 (from your assessment to your approval at our adoption panel) again, we would take this at your pace but we aim to complete this stage within 4 months.

However, we are led by your wishes and you can slow this process down at any stage. You will need to be available for several meetings with your assessing social worker during the assessment process. We can arrange for some evening visits if required to suit availability but we cannot solely conduct our assessments outside normal office hours.

Do I need to own my home to adopt?

No. You can adopt if you are in a rented accommodation and you do not need to have a ‘big’ home. However, you will need to be able to provide a child or children with their own bedroom. Sibling groups can share dependent on size of group, ages and their own needs. All children have their own specific individual needs and they are the most important aspect in all our decisions.

What support do you offer?

Many of our families say they chose Adoption Matters due to our commitment to ongoing support. We offer support from your first email or call, throughout your adoption assessment, to the placement of a child or children, through to their first days at school, college and beyond, for as long as you need it.

We offer support to prospective adopters, approved adopters and their extended family, adopted adults and birth families.

Our innovative Centre for Adoption Support  provides a wide range of support and training services for adoption and permanency, for both families and children.  During Covid-19 restrictions, we are offering most of our workshops and activities where possible through webinars hosted on Zoom.

Our webinars are free of charge for Adoption Matters families and Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) families that are currently receiving support from the Centre for Adoption Support. If you are an adopter, special guardian or foster carer from a different agency, the cost to attend our webinars is £15 per person

Why do children require adoption?

Children enter care for a variety of reasons; unfortunately today the most common reason is abuse and/or neglect. If social work teams cannot assist families to make it safe for children to return to live at home or with live with extended family, the decision may be made by courts that children require long term care through either adoption or long term fostering. Long term fostering is sometimes a more suitable option for older children or those children with very strong attachments to their birth family.

Most of the children placed for adoption are cared for by their local authority in foster homes prior to placement for adoption.

What type of children need adoption?

Children in care come from all walks of life, backgrounds and cultures. They have different needs and experiences like all children. One thing we know about children who enter care is that, they will be feeling a whole range of emotions and will often be frightened. Two thirds of children in care are removed from their birth families due to abuse and neglect. Almost all children will have experienced separation, loss and uncertainty.

What age of child can I adopt?

Your social worker will discuss what age range you are thinking of during your initial enquiry. We will also explore and explain lots of options open to you. Currently, our biggest need is to find adoptive families for:

  • Older children – aged 4 and above
  • Children with additional needs – learning, physical, behavioural
  • Children in sibling groups – we always aim to keep brothers and sisters together
  • Children from Black & Minority Ethnic backgrounds

How many children have you placed with families?

In 2016-17 Adoption Matters placed 76 children and in 2017-18 we placed 57 children. In our 71 year history, the agency has placed over 4,100 children.

How many children are waiting for adoption?

There are thousands of children in the UK who are waiting to find a new adoptive family, especially those children who are older, have additional needs, have brothers and sisters or come from a Black or minority ethnic background. Local Authority adoption services from across the country send us regular information about children who need a new forever family and we are able to work closely with their family finding teams to ensure the best match between a child and an adoptive family.

In 2015:

4,060 children had an adoption decision but were not yet placed.

2,810 children had a placement order for adoption but were not yet placed.


51% of the children with a placement order waiting to be placed were part of a sibling group.

Harder to Place:

73% of the children with a placement order waiting to be placed at were considered ‘harder to place’. This means the child is any of the following: 5 years or over, BME, disabled or part of a sibling group.

Will you offer support in the future?

Yes. We will draw up an individual post placement and post adoption support plan with you in conjunction with the local authority/Regional Adoption Agency who is placing the child, so that everyone is in agreement about the level of support that you might require.

Many of our families say they chose Adoption Matters due to our commitment to ongoing support. We offer support from your first email or call, throughout your adoption assessment, to the placement of a child or children, through to their first days at school, college and beyond, for as long as you need it.

We offer support to prospective adopters, approved adopters and their extended family, adopted adults and birth families.

Our innovative Centre for Adoption Support  provides a wide range of support and training services for adoption and permanency, for both families and children.  During Covid-19 restrictions, we are offering most of our workshops and activities where possible through webinars hosted on Zoom.

Our webinars are free of charge for Adoption Matters families and Regional Adoption Agency (RAA) families that are currently receiving support from the Centre for Adoption Support. If you are an adopter, special guardian or foster carer from a different agency, the cost to attend our webinars is £15 per person

Can I adopt if I have birth children?

Yes! We welcome and encourage enquiries from people who have birth children. You can adopt whether you have children still living at home or if they have grown up and live elsewhere. You will have to consider the ages of your own children when considering what age of child or children you are considering for adoption.

Again, the needs of our adoptive children must be paramount and you must also consider that sometimes a child awaiting adoption needs and emotional age can be very different to their chronological age.

Why should we choose Adoption Matters?

Adoption is all we do, and we have been doing it for over 70 years. We have a team of experienced adoption practitioners whose aim and focus is you, our adopters. We ensure we find the right adopter, for the right child.

As an independent children’s charity and approved voluntary adoption agency, we work with Local Authorities across the whole of the UK for you, meaning we can find the best match for both child and family.

We are proud of our history, our staff and our reputation. We are the ONLY independent adoption agency in the North West to have been rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted four times in a row in 2017, 2014, 2011 & 2008. We were named Voluntary Adoption Agency of the Year in both 2014 & 2012, our Centre for Adoption Support Manager was named best Adoption Support Practitioner in 2016 and our social worker Rachel Cutler was named Adoption Social Worker of the year in 2017. The real question is, why would you choose to adopt with anyone else?

Awards awarded by Coram BAAF

Am I too old to adopt?

No! Legally, adopters need to be over 21 but there is no upper age limit. We are all living longer these days and life expectancy has risen so much in the last two decades that we now actively encourage adopters in their fifties and above to think about adoption.

We will expect you to have the health and vitality to see your children through to an age of independence, so consideration will be given to your age comparative to the age of the child you want to adopt; younger children are more likely to be placed with younger parents.

Why was the charity formed?

Adoption Matters is Christian organisation with a long history with the Anglican Church. The Anglican Church has always taken its commitment to social responsibility very seriously – the Board for Social Responsiblity dealt with adoption, homelessness, unemployment, social justice and more. Eventually Adoption became a smaller part of this and Chester Diocescan Adoption Society/ Blackburn Diocesan Adoption Agency were formed in 1955 and 1947 respectively. The two agencies merged in 2007 eventually becoming Adoption Matters Northwest.

We have now reverted to Adoption Matters in order to reflect the expansion of our services into a larger area of the UK.

Although we have strong Christian links, we do encourage enquiries from people of all faiths and religions and those who have none.

Are you a charity or an adoption agency?

We are both. Adoption Matters is a children’s charity which specialises in adoption and adoption support. We are a non profit making organisation, inspected and regulated by Ofsted as an independent voluntary adoption agency (VAA).

VAAs are independentnot for profit organisations which are smaller than most statutory agencies and offer a personalised service to adopters from all backgrounds.  VAAs work in partnership with local authorities and regional adoption agencies across the whole of the UK to find families for children in care who are unable to stay with their birth relatives. There are 34 registered voluntary adoption agencies covering every region and country of the UK.

Voluntary Adoption Agencies (VAAs) have a wealth of experience in placing children with adoptive families. Some have been working for well over 100 years supporting all kinds of children and families.
VAAs place almost a quarter of all children adopted each year in the UK and have expertise in finding families for children who often wait longer for a family, these include sibling groups, older children and those from black, Asian or other ethnic backgrounds.

Can I adopt if I am LGBTQ+?

Whether you are LGBTQ+ is not a factor in your right to adopt.  If you identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Non-Binary, we welcome your enquiry. We also recognise the resilience, determination and the challenges that you may have overcome in your life.

Sexuality and gender is not on the ‘list’ when looking at what makes a good parent or adopter! What is important is the time, love and commitment you have to offer a child waiting for their forever home through adoption to put their needs above your own.

We are proud members of New Family Social the UK network for LGBTQ+ adoptive and foster families which allows all our approved adopters free membership.

How can I help fundraise?

There are lots of ways you can help our charity through fundraising. Have a look at our fundraising page for the different ways. Alternatively, you can get in touch with us on 0300 123 1066 and thank you.

Can we volunteer with you?

Yes, we would love to hear from anyone who is interested in volunteering for us. We are always looking for volunteers to help spread our adoption message. Just get in touch with us by clicking the contact us button or give us a call on 0300 123 1066.

What support will we need?

Support from family and friends is essential. Adoption is not something you should do in isolation as you will need to draw on practical and emotional support in planned and in emergency situations. Your social worker will look carefully with you at your existing support network and that which you may develop in the future.

Adopting through Adoption Matters means you will have the added security of access to the Centre for Adoption Support, which offers a wide variety of workshops, webinars, events and specialist therapeutic support for both families and children.

What about income & employment?

You do not have to live in a big house or be well off to adopt. What you do need is the willingness and commitment to offer a child or children a loving, stable and caring home in which they can thrive.

Do you have to contact my ex-partners?

If a previous relationship has resulted in the birth of any children we are required by Regulations to contact this ex-partner and seek his/her views, unless doing so would put you at risk. If you are at all worried about this please let us know. Please be reassured that we understand that relationships can end acrimoniously and references from ex-partners may not always be positive, we look at this information carefully in the light of all the other information we have gathered.

If you have lived with an ex-partner, even though there have not been any children from this relationship, it is good practice for us to try and contact them too.

We know that people often lose touch and we would ask that you make attempts to trace them via mutual friends or family or via social media. Again if you are particularly worried about this, please talk to us, we would never want to put someone at risk to get this information.

If you have been in a relationship of a significant duration (i.e. over 12 months) but haven’t lived together, again, we would want to, if possible, try to contact this person and obtain a reference. If you feel there is a reason that we shouldn’t do this again please talk to us about this. We would never seek references without your consent or knowledge.

How do I make a compliment or complaint?

Adoption Matters is committed to providing a quality service which is efficient, effective, timely and conducted in an open, friendly and respectful manner. It is useful to know what people think about our work as this helps us to improve and develop our service. We regularly survey our service users to ask for feedback. If you would like to feedback any comments, compliments or complaints, please download our leaflet below:

Adoption Questions & Answers
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