children play tug of war

Who can adopt?

We welcome adoptive parents from all walks of life. The people who adopt with us are from various backgrounds, genders, nationalities, religions, and ages. 

It doesn’t matter what your religious or cultural background is, whether you're single, married, divorced, in a civil partnership, a homeowner or renting, we believe you can adopt.

In particular, we are searching for adoptive parents who can adopt children:

  • of all ages, particularly older children and teenagers
  • in sibling groups
  • from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities
  • with challenging behaviours
  • with physical and/or learning disabilities

What's most important is that you are caring, patient, understanding, and can offer a child or young person a positive and loving environment to grow up in. 

You could be the special person a child needs if you:

  • are over 21
  • are a UK resident
  • have stopped infertility treatment if you’re trying to have a child
  • have enough space in your home to meet the needs of a child
  • have the time and commitment to support a child
  • want to make a difference to a child's life

Other things we’ll consider include:

  • Your health – as part of the adoption process, your medical health will be checked. However, not all disabilities will stop you from adopting.
  • If you have children – we will discuss with you how you will meet the needs of an adoptive child as well as your existing children. Your children’s thoughts about adoption are also important.
  • If you have a partner – they must have been living with you for at least two years. Your relationship will be assessed to make sure a child will be placed in a loving and stable home.
  • If you smoke – there are significant health risks of smoking and passive smoking. It is unlikely that a young child will be placed in a home where there are smokers.

Adoption frequently asked questions (FAQs)

There can be a lot of misconceptions about adoption which is why we’ve compiled some of the most common questions we receive to bust some of those myths.

Can I adopt as someone who is LGBT+?

Barnardo’s fully supports LGBT+ people adopting children – and we were one of the first charities to do so. We believe fiercely in the importance of a loving home for children who do not have one and provide training and support for all our amazing adoptive families.

Can I adopt if I rent?

Whether you are renting or a homeowner with a mortgage makes no difference to your ability to give a young person a secure, safe, and nurturing place they can call home. The important thing is that you have the time and commitment to care for a child or young person.

We just ask that you have space in your home to accommodate the child you want to adopt and that you can offer a safe and secure home environment. If you can do that, then you can adopt. 

Can I adopt if I have a criminal record?

As part of the adoption process, we will do a background check. It’s important to note that not all criminal convictions will stop you from adopting, but people with a history of sexual offences and/or cruelty to children will not be considered.

Can I adopt if I'm disabled?

Your ability status should not stop you from looking into becoming an adoptive parent. As part of the adoption process, we look at the current health and resilience of individuals and couples to determine if you are able to meet the needs of a child throughout their childhood and hopefully beyond.

Can I adopt if I'm single?

Your relationship status is not a barrier to adoption. Whether you are single or married - you could adopt a child.  

Can I adopt if I have children?

Some people are reluctant to adopt because they’re worried about the effect it will have on their own children. A new young person joining a family may bring challenges to family dynamics, and some children may find it hard to share their space and parents’ attention. 

As part of the application and assessment process, a Barnardo’s social worker will meet with the children in your family to discuss their thoughts and feelings. If, as a family, you pursue your application to adopt, we will work hard to ensure an appropriate match between a child and your own family. Your children’s experience will be reviewed regularly, and support will be offered to ensure that their experience is also a happy and positive one.

Can I adopt if I have a history of mental illness?

We look at the current health and resilience of individuals and couples and how they’ve worked through their mental health issues. Your ability to manage your mental health issues can demonstrate resilience, strength, and openness.

Can I adopt if I'm living with HIV?

We want to stress that successfully managing your health, whatever your HIV status (or other illnesses) can show that you are a responsible adult and can be considered for adoption and fostering. 

Is there an age limit to becoming an adoptive parent?

Legally potential adopters need to be over the age of 21, however, there is no legal upper age limit. Older adopters can bring significant life experience and ability to their adopting, and children can thrive under the steadying, calming influence of an older adoptive parent. 

All we ask is that you have the energy and experience to be able to meet the needs of a child throughout their childhood and hopefully beyond. 

Get in touch

Adoption is a lifelong journey and Barnardo’s will support you every step of the way, during the application and adoption process, and in the years that follow. If you’re interested in adopting with us, we encourage you to fill in our online enquiry form.

You won’t be making any commitments at this stage, but a member of our team will get in touch with you to explain more about the adoption process as well as answer any questions you may have. They will also ask you a few questions about yourself and your motivation to adopt.

Alternatively, you can call us on 0800 0277 280 or 0771 240 2312 - our phone lines are open from Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

Further resources

A young boy with Down's syndrome and his adoptive father at a table.

Adoption process

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.

A mother holding two children

More Adoption FAQs

Your questions on adoption answered.

Young boy and foster carer playing with a football

Adoption near me

As the UK’s largest voluntary adoption agency, we have the resources and expertise right around the UK to give you all the support you need.