Am I too old to adopt?
You must be over 21 years of age to adopt but there is no upper age limit. What is important is that you are fit and healthy enough to support a child into adulthood. We are keen to hear from anyone who can provide stability, security, a safe nurturing environment and enough time to meet a child’s physical and emotional needs.
What help will I get after I've adopted a child?
Our experience shows that adoptive families may need support at different times over the years. That's why, as well as support during the adoption process, we offer our adoptive families support after adoption for as long as it is needed, and whenever it is needed. The range of services available include advice, practical and emotional support, groups, therapeutic support, financial support and training.
Who are the children needing adoption?
All children waiting for adoption will need love and support to help them thrive, and reassurance that their new parents will always put them first. Children who need new adoptive families will likely have experienced difficult childhoods and have some problems they will need help to overcome. They are likely to be either:
• babies who have had a difficult start in life
• older children,
• have brothers and sisters with whom they need to stay together, or
• have special educational or learning needs or disabilities.
Will I have to meet the child's parents or other birth relatives?
Adoption has become a more ‘open’ arrangement for many children and by this we mean that children should always know they are adopted and who their ‘birth’ family are. We discuss with you ways in which you can assist children with this from the time of placement and whilst they are growing up. On some occasions we arrange for adopters to meet the child’s parents at the time of a match but this will depend on the child’s needs, the birth parents circumstances and whether or not it is right for the child and you. For some children there will also be a need to stay in touch with their siblings or other family members who are significant to them. We will discuss this with you and answer any concerns you may have. Any arrangements set up would be safe and non-threatening and would only happen when it felt right to do so for the child.
Can I adopt if I have pets?
Provided that dogs/cats or any other pets you have do not pose a threat to a child’s health or safety we are happy to consider an application from you. Some pets are also helpful in helping a child to settle into a new home.
Can I adopt if I am not, or my partner is not, a UK national?
We welcome enquiries from people who are UK residents, or who are domiciled in Britain. Please contact us if you are interested in adopting but are unsure about your status and we will be happy to advise you.
Can I adopt if I'm gay or transgender?
Adoption is open to people who can meet the needs of children waiting for adoptive families, and we welcome enquiries from all different types of adopters, from across the spectrum of sexuality or gender identity.
Can I adopt if I'm single?
Single people can adopt, both men and women. There is nothing unusual about single parenting – around a quarter of households in the UK with dependent children are headed by a single parent. We support adopters from a whole range of different family types through the process, and we have helped lots of single people to successfully adopt.
Can I adopt if I have a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety?
Conditions such as depression or anxiety are not necessarily a barrier to adoption depending on your own personal history. However, it will be taken into consideration when you make your application, to ensure that you are able to meet the needs of a child.
How much does it cost to adopt a child from Wales or the UK?
We do not charge to assess or approve adopters. However prospective adopters will need to have medicals, which sometimes cost between £80 and £120. This fee is set by GPs and not by the agencies in Wales.
There are no other direct costs involved in adoption but as for all parents there are things you want and need to buy when your child arrives. You may also find you need to make some lifestyle changes such as reducing your working hours, which may have an impact on your income.
When an adoption application is made to court, there is a one-off court fee. If two or more children in a sibling group are being adopted at the same time, only one fee will be charged. Many local authorities looking after the child cover the court fees on behalf of the adopters, and in many situations may also make a commitment to paying any additional legal fees or court costs, so these should not be a cost to you. Even if the local authority does not cover the court fees, if you are on certain benefits or have a low income, you might be able to get help with the court fee. For further details see Get help paying court and tribunal fees - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Where else can I get advice or information?
There are several organisations that offer lots of useful advice and information about adoption. Here are a few:
Adoption Uk is the only national self-help charity run by and for adoptive parents and foster carers. It offers support before, during and after adoption.
Phone 0844 8487900 | www.adoptionuk.org
Phone: 029 20761155 or 01745 336336
New Family Social is the only UK charity led LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) adopters and foster carers.
Phone 0843 289 9457Website www.newfamilysocial.org.uk
Do Voluntary Adoption Agencies cover all of Wales?
Yes. There are two Voluntary Adoption Agencies that assess potential adopters in Wales. You can visit the St David’s Children’s Society at www.adoptionwales.org or get in touch by phoning 029 20667007. You can visit Barnardo's at www.barnardos.org.uk or get in touch by phoning 0800 054 6788.
What is a Voluntary Adoption Agency (VAA)?
A Voluntary Adoption Agency is set up to work with prospective and approved adopters in the same way that a local authority adoption agency does. The difference is that they do not have responsibility for the children in care or their families. There are two VAA’s who assess potential prospective adopters in Wales. They are Barnardo’s at www.barnados.org.uk/cymru and St. David’s Children’s Society at www.adoptionwales.org. Both agencies recruit adopters across the whole of Wales.
What are Regional Adoption collaboratives?
All local authority adoption agencies in Wales now work together in five regional collaboratives.
North Wales Adoption Service (NWAS) covers Wrexham, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, and Anglesey.
Mid and West Wales Adoption Service (MWAS) covers Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.
South East Wales Adoption Service (SEWAS) covers Blaunau-Gwent, Monmouthshire, Caerphilly, Newport and Torfaen.
Western Bay Adoption Service (WB) covers Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend.
Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Adoption Service (VVC) covers the Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthy Tydfil and Cardiff.
What's the difference between applying to a Voluntary Adoption Agency (VAA) or a Local Authority Adoption Agency?
Both are registered adoption agencies and both recruit, prepare and assess potential adopters. However, Local Authority agencies have responsibility for children in care and their families. VAAs do not.
How do I decide which adoption agency to approach?
You can contact more than one agency for information and advice but you can only make a formal application to one. All agencies in Wales use the same process for adoption applications but it is important you feel comfortable with the one you choose to apply to.
Can I change my child's name?
Your child will take your surname when the final Adoption Order is made. In some circumstances it may be appropriate to change or vary their first name but we ask you to think carefully about this. You will need to think carefully about the effect this may have on the child, both at the time and in the future and how their identity might be affected. A Social Worker will be available to discuss this with you at the time.
Is the adoption process the same for stepparents?
No, the adoption process for stepparents is very different. Speak to your regional adoption service for advice and information.
As a foster carer, can I adopt a child in my care?
Depending on your circumstances, it may be appropriate for you to adopt a child in your care. You will still need to go through an assessment to make sure you are suitable to adopt. Talk to the child’s social worker, who will give you advice on the process.
How long will the assessment process take?
At the current time the assessment should take no longer than 6 months. From 2020 the process in Wales is changing and this period of time will be split into two stages. Stage 1 which will be adopter-led will focus on the checks and references needed for your application and this should not take longer than 2 months. Stage 2 will focus on the more detailed part of the assessment and should not take longer than 4 months. We recognise that everyone is different and some individual circumstances can impact on the time it takes. Our aim is to ensure you are informed at every step of the way and know what is expected of you and what you can expect of us in terms of how long things will take.
For those who have adopted before and foster carers we will aim to condense the process into a shorter timescale of 4 months. This may not always be possible but we will acknowledge the experience you already have of caring for children in the care of the local authority and take this into account.
Can I adopt if I have a criminal record?
Not all criminal offences will stop you from adopting – some will, and these are offences against children and some offences against other adults. However if you have a criminal record talk to us about what this means and we will be happy to advise you further.
Can I adopt if I already have children?
Having children of your own will not exclude you from adopting whether they live at home or are grown up and have moved away. We only ask that your children are happy with your decision and that you are able to manage their needs alongside caring for an adopted child. We suggest a gap of two years between the age of children in your family already and any that are placed for adoption.
Can I work and adopt?
Yes, but you will need time off to help the child settle into your home. For younger children, it is important that you are at home for as long as possible. Even when they are at school, it may take longer for them to settle into a routine, so you may need to be available when they need you. The most important thing is that you are flexible and fit your work commitments around the needs of your adopted child, not the other way round.
Can I adopt if I smoke?
For all children it is preferable to live in a smoke free environment and therefore applicants who smoke may not be as easily matched with a child as someone who doesn’t. Children aged less than 5 years old, or a child of any age with respiratory problems or cardiac problems or a disability will not be placed with prospective adopters who smoke. We are happy to discuss this with you especially if you have decided to give up in order to apply to adopt.
Can I adopt if I am overweight?
Yes you can. Your weight is only a problem if it affects your health or your ability to care for a child. Your GP will record your weight as part of the medical as well as any lifestyle issues.
Can I adopt if I have a disability?
Yes, absolutely. Having a disability or medical condition does not create a barrier for adoption. Agency Medical Advisers will look at the information provided by your GP and your Social Worker will consider with you how this might impact on your health, lifestyle and ability to parent.
Will my health affect my chance of adopting?
Many health conditions are not a barrier to adoption and we welcome discussions about many conditions. All prospective adopters are required by statutory regulations to have a full medical examination with their own GP and the agency’s Medical Adviser will advise the agency about any issues that may affect your application. Our primary concern is that you have the necessary health and energy to meet the child's needs through to adulthood.
Can I get financial help to adopt?
You can apply for an Adoption Allowance in some cases, such as when an adoptive child needs special care or facilities to help them get the most out of life as they grow older. You might be able to access financial support if you plan to adopt siblings.
Do my finances and employment status matter?
Your financial status and employment circumstances will be taken into consideration, but having a lower income or being unemployed will not automatically rule you out, as long as you can provide a loving and secure home for a child.
You can be in employment or at home full-time to adopt. We ask that you consider the needs of the child when thinking about whether you should return to work after a period of adoption leave. We understand that you may need to return for financial reasons and we can help you to think about how you will manage this for the child. We would suggest that for most children they will need to have the consistent care of at least one of the adopters for a period following placement; and most adopters are legally entitled to adoption leave and we can discuss with you how this works and how much time you are able to take.
Can I adopt if I do not own my own home?
You don’t need to own your home, but you do need to be settled in secure accommodation which is suitable for a child. This will usually mean having a spare bedroom, as well as living somewhere you plan to remain for some time in order to ensure stability for a child. We look at every case based on your personal circumstances, so why not get in touch to discuss your circumstances.
What happens if I've had treatment for infertility?
Some, but not all, people who adopt have experienced some form of infertility investigation or treatment. Adoption agencies will suggest that you take a period of time after your treatment has finished before starting the adoption process; this is usually around 6 months to allow time between the two for emotional adjustment and/or recovery. The reason for this is that parenting children who have had difficult early experiences can be emotionally challenging and can cause additional stress for some adopters who may not be ready. However we do want to hear from you so please talk to us about your current situation and we will assist you to decide when it would be the right time for you to apply.