Fostering and adoption, Northern Ireland

Changing lives together

We believe you can foster or adopt 

If you live in Northern Ireland and are interested in fostering or adopting a child we're here to help.

Every child deserves a home that is nurturing and loving. When life gets tough or unsafe at home, children need a caring adult to look after them until things can get better or if this is not possible, care for them until they reach adulthood and beyond.

Barnardo’s focuses on finding homes for children with additional needs and we pride ourselves on providing positive outcomes for the children placed with us. These children can be of any age and can include brothers and sisters needing to be placed together. Some of the children may have physical disabilities and/or learning difficulties. Others may need a family who share similar racial, religious, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. 

Hear from some families who have fostered or adopted with us.

Here at Barnardo's Fostering and Adoption Northern Ireland, our team of dedicated social workers will support you throughout the whole of your fostering or adoption journey.

Our latest events

Sign up for one of our in-person or online events to learn more about adoption or fostering and speak to someone about any questions you may have.

Find details of all our upcoming events on our Eventbrite page

We never looked back from the service. I’d advise any prospective foster carer or adopter to go through Barnardo’s because we were treated really fairly, properly and they were organised.


Foster carer and adopter

Play or pause video

What is fostering?

Foster carers provide a safe, secure, and stable home environment for these children for as long as this is needed. This might be for a few days when an emergency arises, to weeks or many months, until it is safe for the child to return to their birth family. For some children, foster care is needed for many years, until they become adults.

Foster carers look after children in their own homes. They work closely with social workers, and they support the child to keep in contact with parents and other family members. The child’s parent/s will continue to hold legal responsibility for them, known as Parental Responsibility. This may be shared with the Health and Social Care Trust that has placed the child in foster care.​​​​​

We’ve made a lot of friends through fostering, other foster carers - and the whole support network is brilliant


Foster carer

What is adoption?

Adoption differs from fostering in that it gives the adoptive parents full legal responsibility, so neither the birth parent nor Heath and Social Care Trust have any legal rights in relation to the child after an Adoption Order is made.

Children who are adopted within our service will initially be placed on a fostering basis with their prospective adopters. This is referred to as ‘Foster to Adopt’. This means that the child is already living with the family who may adopt them if the Court agrees that adoption is the best plan for the child. This also allows the foster carer/s and the social workers involved to be sure that adoption is right for both the child and the foster carer/s and most importantly foster to adopt helps reduce the number of moves that children experience.

Children who are placed with foster to adopt families are likely to have a range of needs including health concerns, disability, or developmental uncertainty. Or they may have experienced the trauma of abuse and neglect in early childhood or been exposed to drugs or alcohol while in the womb. They may be older children, from 4 years upwards, and some will require a home with their brother or sister. They are likely to have been waiting to be matched with families who can adopt them or offer permanent foster care for some time.

You know, we went down the fostering route, we never thought for one minute about adoption but when these wee children come into your heart, or into your life, they stay in your heart


 Foster carer and adopter

Get in touch

We can talk you through the fostering process and answer all your questions. You can contact us by:

  • Young person with toddler

    Foster a child

    There are many different reasons why families start to foster but they all wish to make a difference to the lives of children and young people in care.

  • Rosie and Sue, foster carer with Barnardo's

    Rosie and Sue's story

    Rosie and Sue step in to provide short breaks and bridging placements to children and young people when needed.

  • A young girl and a woman sit talking on a bench in a park

    Further reading

    Our statement of purpose (see below) gives you detailed information about Barnardo's Professional Fostering Northern Ireland, and how we achieve good outcomes for the children in our care.