A young boy with downs syndrome sitting at a table with foster carer

Adoption process

The first step – get in touch

We understand that the decision to adopt is a huge step and so we'll provide you with support every step of the way. On average it takes six months to become an approved adoptive parent - but we believe you can do it, and so should you.

Getting in touch to say you are considering adoption can be a big step to take, but there’s nothing to worry about.

Making an enquiry is an opportunity for you to find out more about adoption and the application process, to help you decide if adoption is something that you want to pursue. There is no obligation or commitment if you make an enquiry, and one of our friendly, expert staff will contact you for an initial chat.

If you’re interested in adopting with us, the first thing to do is fill in our online enquiry form. You can also find your nearest adoption service on our ‘Adoption Services near me page.

Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 0277 280 or 0771 2402 312 from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

At this stage you are not making any commitments. A member of our team will call you back to talk you through the adoption process, answer any questions you may have and ask you a few questions about yourself and your motivation to adopt.

What happens next

If you decide to continue with the process, you will need to complete a Registration of Interest form and a consent form that allows us to obtain a number of checks and references throughout stage one of your assessment


Our assessment process is thorough because we want you to be fully prepared for the challenges and rewards that adoption brings.

The assessment process takes part over two stages. You will be required to attend adopter training and preparation during the assessment process.

Stage 1 should last 2 months from the point of your registration of interest being accepted by the agency. Stage 2 should take no longer than 4 months from you notifying the agency that you wish to proceed to stage 2. Stage two ends with the Agency decision regarding your suitability following your attendance at panel.

You will be assigned a suitably qualified Barnardo’s social worker who will support both stage 1 and 2 of the assessment processes.

Stage 1

Stage one focuses on the completion of statutory checks and references, and you will be expected to complete a workbook in preparation for stage 2 of the process. Following the gathering of the checks and references the agency will need to make a decision that will state if you are suitable to move to stage 2 of the process. If you are not suitable the agency will give you the reasons why it has made this decision. If you are suitable the agency will invite you to move to stage 2 of the process.

During stage one assessment, we will also carry a number of checks including:

  • police checks/enhanced DBS

  • medical checks

  • financial checks

  • professional and personal references

Stage 2

In stage two you will complete assessment sessions with your assigned social worker. These visits will be a combination of virtual and face to face sessions. The sessions will always include:

  • visits to your home

  • discussion on the reasons why you would like to adopt

  • finding out more about your family background, any childcare experience and your understanding of the experiences and needs of adopted children (don’t worry if you currently know very little as the adopter training and preparation will build your knowledge of this).

  • spending some time with you and your family and will look at your support network

  • discussing the type of child you could adopt.

All the information collected in stage one and two will become part of your assessment report, written by your social worker. This is a comprehensive report which will be given to the adoption panel towards the end of stage two and it will be used by them to make a recommendation about your suitability to become an adoptive parent.

Adoption training

During the assessment process, we run compulsory training for all our prospective adopters which you will need to attend. The training is designed to help you:

  • understand the commitment needed to adopt

  • learn about the needs of children who have experienced neglect and trauma in their life

  • further develop the skills you'll need to become an adoptive parent.

You will get the chance to meet other prospective adoptive parents who are preparing to adopt. You will also get the opportunity to meet adopters who have been through the assessment process and have children with them.


The final stage of the assessment process is the panel meeting. The information gathered by your social worker will be presented in an assessment report to the adoption panel.

The panel is a group of skilled people who have professional or personal experiences of adoption. They are chosen because of their wealth of knowledge about adoption and the children who need adoption - they may have experience of working with children, or they may have been fostered or adopted themselves or be adoptive parents.

You will be invited to meet the panel and clarify any last questions you or they may have. The panel will make a recommendation about your suitability to adopt and submit this recommendation to the adoption decision maker who will consider it and ultimately decide whether or not to accept its recommendation.

Matching you with the right child/ren

As soon as you are approved, your social worker will begin the process of matching you with the right child/ren. Your social worker will continue to support you through every step of your adoption journey.

Further resources

Children playing tug of war

Who can adopt?

The people who adopt with us are from various backgrounds, genders, nationalities, religions, and ages. Find out more about what criteria we consider during the adoption process.

Support worker and young person sitting on park bench together.

Adoption support

We understand the decision to adopt is a huge step and we'll provide you with support every step of the way. Find out more about the journey to adoption.

Two woman standing in a hallways smiling

Enquire about adopting

Complete our online form or find details about alternative contact methods here and one of our friendly, expert staff will contact you for a no-obligation chat.