Two young girls walking through a park in coats, smiling. There are some autumnal leaves behind them.

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. 

Find out more about fostering and adoption

Here at Barnardo's Fostering and Adoption Northern Ireland, our team of dedicated social workers will support you throughout your whole fostering or adoption journey. You can find out more about the process by getting in touch, coming to an event, or hearing about others experiences fostering and adopting below.

Boy and carer crouched down in a garden holding a red ball.

Listen to our podcast

Learn more about fostering by listening to the experiences of foster carers, adopters, and some of the wider Barnardo's team on our podcast.

Two women standing on a drive in a garden, holding two young children in their arms. All smiling at the camera

Head to YouTube

Hear from some of the families who have fostered or adopted with us over on YouTube.

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 below.

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

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 ‘Fostering to Adopt’. The child lives with them on a fostering basis whilst the child's social worker completes assessments and makes a recommendation to the Court about the child's future care. You can read more about fostering to adopt here.

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

    Children who need fostering

    Fostering is a way of providing a family life and home for children who cannot live with their own parents. There are many different reasons why people start to foster but they all have one thing in common – a wish to make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people in care.  

  • A baby sits on two women's lap. All are looking down at a book and smiling.

    Andi and Laura's story

    ​​​Three years after living with Laura, a parent and child foster carer, Andi* and her toddler Isla* are thriving. Andi believes that without the support of Laura and her husband Tom, Isla would not be in her care.

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

    Types of foster care

    We provide several types of fostering to ensure we can support and meet each child and young person’s individual needs. This can range from offering a planned break for a young person to try new experiences, to offering a child a stable and loving family setting for several months or years.