Guide: The adoption process

Qualification criteria

We are looking for people who are likely to become good adopters, and ultimately offer a home.  There are very few set criteria at the outset – although they are important:

Legal requirements:

  • Prospective adopters must be over 21 years old.
  • Prospective adopters must be living in the British Isles, or have been a habitual resident in part of the British Isles for at least one year before application.
  • A person cannot be considered suitable if they have been convicted of serious offences such as offences against children, murder, serious sexual offences or serious fraud.

Devon Adoption additional criteria:

a)    Any birth children in the family will need to be at least two years old.  This is because an adopted child needs to be the youngest in the family, often by a couple of years.

b)    We like you to have experience of caring for children – preferably the same age as the child you are considering adopting and, if at all possible, in your home. We understand that not everyone has nieces and nephews or friends with children, but having some experience will stand you in very good stead. Not having experience wouldn’t necessarily prevent you from moving through the process at this stage, but we would be keen to know how you plan to get the required experience, and would be happy to give advice and support on where to do this. We have had many adopters able to join football coaching, Brownies, Cubs, after-school clubs, reading with reception children or helping out in crèches and day care facilities. This experience will help inform your assessment, as well as help you decide what kind of children you will best be suited to.

c)    Smoking  We like you to be a non-smoker if possible, although this would not necessarily impede your progress at this first stage. Being a smoker will severely restrict your chances of having any child placed post-approval, especially any child under five. Therefore by the time you get to Stage 2 of the adoption process we hope you will be a non-smoker. So, if you have been thinking about giving up, perhaps this is the motivation you need!  You can talk to your GP about support to give up smoking.

d)    Your house will need to be in a suitable condition for children to live in.  If you are having extensive building work done, for example, we may suggest you wait until this is nearer completion.  Certainly, children would not be able to be placed in an unsound or unsuitable house so, to avoid delay after approval, it is best to get the bulk of the work done before you embark on the adoption process.  Adopted children will need their own bedroom; it would be very difficult for them to share with a birth child already in the family. However adopted children who are joining your family as a sibling group, could share a room with birth siblings if they have previously done so. You will need to know if your house is flexible enough to grow and change as your children grow and change.

e)   Recent IVF or other fertility treatment Our general rule is that you need a good 12 months after your last attempt at fertility treatment before embarking on the adoption process.  This enables you to come to terms with your fertility issues, to fully accept that you will not be birth parents, and to get past anniversaries or difficult times of year.  Although many prospective adopters who have had recent fertility treatment are disappointed when we tell them this, they all, without exception, have told us afterwards that they had needed that time and space to be emotionally robust for the future. There are exceptions to this rule, and we consider individual circumstances on a case-by-case basis but, in general, this is what we advise

f)   Recent life events If you have had a major bereavement, lost your job, moved house or had a bout of significant illness – anything that impacts on your emotional state, we may advise you to wait for a few months so you can fully focus on the adoption process. Likewise, if you are part way through the process and a major life event happens, we may recommend you put the adoption process on hold until other issues have been resolved.

g)   Significant medical issues If you have a medical condition, please let us know from the start, and we can seek advice from our medical advisor about the implications of your condition. This may delay the decision on whether to accept your Registration of Interest or not, but we always aim to get you an answer as soon as possible.

More details can be found in our Information Pack.