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Who can adopt?

Who can Adopt?

While we welcome all adoption enquiries there are certain criteria to meet – read our frequently asked questions to discover if you can apply to adopt.

Who can adopt – Frequently asked questions

Am I too old to adopt?

Anyone over 21 can apply to adopt a child – at Diagrama Adoption we have no upper age limit but your age and general state of health may be taken into account when considering the age and needs of the child you wish to adopt.

Do I need to be married to adopt?

Absolutely not - our adopters can be single. They can also be married couples, in civil partnerships or unmarried couples (whether heterosexual or same-sex) – the important thing is that you can demonstrate your relationship is stable and enduring. Couples need to have been co-habiting for at least two years prior to their assessment starting. Placing a child or children into your home can challenge even the strongest relationship, so we would need evidence that you have previously manged a variety of situations together. We also welcome applications from single people who have support from family, friends or communities - Diagrama has been supporting LBGT+ couples to adopt for many years.

I am from a minority ethnic background - can I adopt?

We welcome adopters from all backgrounds, regardless of race/ethnicity. In fact, there is a disproportionate number of children in need of adoption who have minority ethnic heritage. Local authorities often prefer to match children with adopters from similar backgrounds as a child or young person's cultural identity plays a huge part in their development.

Do you need to be religious to adopt?

No, we welcome enquiries from people of any or no religious faith. Part of the assessment process inludes consideration of whether applicants can support children of a different faith to their own.

I live abroad – can I adopt with Diagrama?

We are only able to accept applications from people who are permanent residents of the UK, or habitually resident for at least one year.

I only moved to the UK a year ago - Is that okay?

Yes -we welcome enquries from people of all nationalities that have lived in the UK for at least 12 months. We need to see written confirmation of your residency status, confirming you are now habitually resident in the UK.

I live in a flat – would that stand against my adoption application?

Not at all – although your adopted child should have their own bedroom and your home should be safe for them to live in with adequate storage space providing stable accommodation. A social worker will view your property in order to carry out checks within Stage One of the process. 

We plan to move soon, can we start the assessment process?

Our social worker will need to carry out checks in the home that the child you are matched with will be living. As moving house is a significant life event, which can be stressful, it would be better for this to happen before the assessment comences, allowing you time to settle into your new home. We would also encourage applicants to remain in their home for a significant period of time following approval and placement of a child given that it's likely the child would already have experienced considerable changes. 

My partner is a smoker, can we still adopt?

We encourage applicants to be non-smokers and, if a previous smoker, to have given up for a least 12 months. It is Diagrama Adoption’s policy not to place children under the age of five in households where there are people who smoke.

What about vaping or e-cigarettes?

Recent research suggests that e-cigarettes and vaping are less dangerous than smoking, although they are still considered harmful. Therefore, if adopters or other family members use e-cigarettes/vape, they are advised to do so away from the family home and not when children are present. They are also advised to lock away any e-cigarettes or vaping materials to ensure that children cannot access them. 

We have been through fertility treatment, can we still adopt?

If you have undergone infertility investigations and/or treatment we would expect a period of at least six months since this stopped before taking up an adoption application. 

What about my job? Can I still work after adoption?

Adopters can be employed, have their own business or be unemployed. You do not need to be financially well off and may be on benefits, although you will need to demonstrate that you are financially stable enough to provide for a child. Adoption applicants can have debt, as long as it is not significant and can be managed. We will carry out a financial assessment, which does include checking bank statements and searching for County Court Judgements. You may be entitled to Adoption Leave – similar to maternity leave – for Government advice on this see Adoption Pay and Leave. Adopters will need to commit sufficient time to the assessment process, the family finding after approval and to be able to take time off work for introductions and allowing the child to settle in. It is preferred that the main adopter is able to take at least one year off work to focus on building a relationship with their adopted child. 

I have a criminal record - Would that prevent me from being able to adopt?

It depends on the type of offence(s) commited, the context and how long ago this was. We would encourage you to be honest about any offences and discuss them openly with us. Some adopters are approved who have committed minor offences. These may have been years previously in youth or be a one-off, in a particular set of circumstances, which would not necessarily prevent people from adopting. Enhanced DBS checks are carried out and any historical offences would need to be discussed with a social worker to establish the impact on the overall assessment to become a prospective adopter. 

How much childcare experience do I need before I can start the assessment process?

It is vital for applicants to be as prepared as they can be before embarking on the assessment process. You may already have experience looking after your own children, or other children that are familiar to you without their parents or carers present. However, to start the adoption process, you (and your partner, if a couple) will need to have gained recent experience helping and supporting children who you do not necessarily know. It is preferable if you have engaged with a range of children of different ages and with different needs, including children with more complex needs. This is necessary because children in need of being adopted will often have experienced significant trauma and many children will already have been moved from the care of their birth parents and placed into a foster home. We encourage you to gain experience with children who would depend on you whilst they are in your care, building a good rapport with them. Spending regular time with children you don't know will enable you to understand more about building confident relationships, trust and understanding.

How do I arrange this childcare experience? 

You may already work in a professional child setting, but if you haven't gained these skills, or they aren't recent, start with volunteering in a childcare setting such as a childminder, after-school club, a nursery/pre-school/primary school or Rainbows/Brownies/Beavers/Cubs. You will need a DBS (Police check)which you may need to pay for or organise directly with the setting. Try searching online for nurseries or childcare establishments in your area and calling to see if you can volunteer on a regular basis. 

Can I adopt if I have a medical condition?

Prospective adopters have to be able to demonstrate that they have sufficient good health to be able to care for a child throughout childhood to independence. We therefore need to be made aware of any history of mental or emotional difficulties as well as your physical health, as all aspects of your health may impact on your ability to care for a child. During the process we will explore how you manage, or have managed, any health conditions and how these could affect your ability to look after a child.

It is also important for applicants to have good mental health to be able to support the needs of children who have experienced trauma as well as to be able to meet the demands and challenges of working within the professional network. Conditions such as depression or anxiety are not necessarily a barrier to adoption depending on your own personal history. It will be taken into consideration when you make your application to ensure that you are able to meet the needs of a child. This will need to be reviewed by the agency medical advisor. It is generally recommended that there has been a period of at least 12 months stable mental health before an adoption assessment commences.

Within stage 1 of the assessment, you will be required to have an adoption medical examination with your GP and the report will be sent to our medical advisor who will consider if there are any physical or mental health issues which would impact on the role of adopter. There may be other serious medical conditions, physical and/or mental, which may have implications for adoption. These will be explored and discussed according to individual circumstances.

There may be instances where our advisor provides advice in relation to matters of weight, smoking, alcohol intake or other health related issues. Such advice may require evidence of sustained change in lifestyle habits before we can proceed further with the adoption process. If, following advice, enquirers choose not to make the recommended changes, or do not accept the advice offered, we may decide not to take an adoption application.

Can I adopt if I am overweight?

Guidance from our Medical Advisors would be: Those in the “morbidly obese” category (BMI of 40 and over) are advised to seek medical advice and to reduce their weight and BMI, as a minimum, to below 40, before proceeding further with the adoption process. Those with BMI over 30 should consider issues of diet, lifestyle, exercise, and general health and discuss these with their GP as appropriate.

Can I drink alcohol as an adopter? 

Use of alcohol is explored within the medical and discussed within the assessment. This needs to be at an appropriate level (see Gov guides for recommended daily intake), and any alcohol stored safely away from children. Applicants need to be mindful of the impact of alcohol use given that many children with plans of adoption or early permanency have a family background involving alcohol or substance misuse

Can I adopt if I have pets? 

Yes, as long as pets are safe to be around children. Pet assessments are carried out within the assessment to ensure that they do not pose a risk to children.

Can I adopt if I live with my extended family? 

Living with extended family members can be beneficial and supportive for new parents but it will be essential those family members are a part of the assessment process and that they understand the needs of adopted children. This may mean that they attend a course for family members adopting and make themselves available for the time when the child will be introduced to the family.

Do I need to speak English? 

It is advisable for adoptive parents to be reasonably fluent in English so that they can advocate for a child once that child is placed, so that the concepts of adopting a child can be fully understood. If you aren’t fluent in English, we would recommend that you attend one of the readily available English courses prior to enquiring about adoption.

Can I adopt a child under 2?

The majority of the children waiting to be adopted in the UK are over four years old and Diagrama is keen to hear from people who are feel that have the skills required to adopt a child in this age group. There are some who are younger than four and often social workers are looking to place them with permanent families as part of early permanence arrangements. Early permanence placements allow babies and infants who may need adopting, if the courts decide this to be the best option for them, to be placed with families who may go on to adopt them. These children will usually come from complex family backgrounds and have some additional uncertainties.

Do I have to pay to be assessed? 

Prospective adopters will need to have medicals, which usually costs approximately £85, although can be as high as £250. This fee is set by the GP and not by Diagrama. There are no other direct costs involved in adoption, but you may find you need to make lifestyle changes such as reducing your working hours, which could have an impact on your income.

When an adoption application is made to court, there is a one-off court fee. This fee applies to each child in a sibling group, however large. 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.

Can I adopt if I have a child/children? 

Yes, however the adopted child will need to be at least two years younger than youngest child in the family. 

I have been married or had a civil partnership before - does that matter?

We will need to know about previous significant relationships you or your partner have had and will require ex-partner references for applicants who have co-parented a child or lived to together for two or more years . We are aware that many relationships end acrimoniously and this is taken into consideration when carrying out these references. We will seek an alternative reference from a third party who knew your ex-partner if for various reasons it is not appropriate to seek the reference or if there is no response from attempts made.

What are the home safety requirements? 

Due to the additional needs of the children with plans of adoption and early permanence, careful consideration will be given to ensuring a high level of safety and suitability to the home, including considering the location, proximity to main roads, storage space - as well as safety within the home and garden, for example how steep the stairs are and so on. Talk to our friendly team for more information and to discuss your own home and situation.



Children awaiting adoption