It’s a common misconception that the journey to adoption is one plagued with barriers – age, race, sexual orientation.  So just what are the rules about who can and can’t adopt?

The good news is that actually there are very few restrictions, and that adoptive parents come from all walks of life; married or single, gay or straight, homeowners or renters, rich or poor.  In fact there are just three main conditions that you have to meet:

1. You have to be 21 or over

If you are aged under 21, you cannot legally adopt in the UK.  The good news is that in a few years, the door will open for you.

2. You have to be a UK resident

To adopt in England you must be legally resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and have been so for at least 12 months. UK citizens living abroad cannot adopt from the UK.

3. You have no criminal record

Actually to be more specific you and members of your household should not have a criminal conviction or caution for offences against children or for serious sexual offences in order to be able to adopt. Other criminal offences will not automatically exclude you but will be taken into consideration during the assessment process, so it is vital to be open with your adoption agency from the start.

Dedicated information service for people interested in adopting a child in England First4Adoption suggests that you ask yourself these questions before embarking on the adoption process:

  • Can you provide love, time and commitment to a child?
  • Can you empathise with a child who may never have experienced the security of feeling safe and loved?
  • Can you be patient and flexible, to supportively adapt to whatever unique challenges may come from the child’s circumstances?
  • Do you have the energy and health to provide a long-term family for a child?
  • Are you over 21?

If the answer to all these is yes, then it could be time for you to take the next step….