Adoption is a way of providing a permanent new family for a child who, for often a variety of reasons, means that living with their birth family is not possible.
Adoption is a lifelong commitment to a child. When you adopt you become the legal parent of that child and you take on all the responsibilities and rights for the child that the birth parent had. It provides the permanence and security of family life that makes it such a positive option for children if birth families are not an option.
People choose to adopt for a variety of reasons, the most common being simply to care for and share the positives in their lives with a child who is less fortunate. Many people have gone through a great deal of experiences before considering adoption and for some people adoption is their only option to have children. Being unable to have birth children can and does affect people in different ways, so for some adopting a child makes their family feel complete.
Can I adopt?
We welcome interest in adoption from a variety of different backgrounds. The most important factor is your ability to offer a secure, safe and stable home to a child.
For most people adoption is accessible and it is always worth having an informal discussion with one of our adoption workers about your circumstances.
There are some issues that might mean you should consider delaying your application to adopt and others that might make it difficult for you to adopt. There are only a few circumstances that would prevent you from adopting.
The following details try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions by prospective adopters.
What type of people are SEWAS looking for?
As suggested above we welcome people from a variety of backgrounds. People from all ethnic origins and religions can adopt, as can single people and lesbian or gay individuals or couples. We are looking for adopters who have the physical and emotional energy to care for children now and into adulthood. We need people who are able to offer a genuine commitment to children.
Do I need to have a particular type of accommodation?
The most important thing is that you can provide enough space for a child or children in your home and that you are able to provide a clean and comfortable environment. A child will need to have their own bedroom and a place to play or have their own personal space. You don’t need to own your home, it may be rented, but you do need to ensure your tenancy is stable and secure.
Are there any age restrictions to becoming an adopter?
The minimum age to adopt is 21 years. There is no upper age limit for adoption but you must be fit and well enough to be able to care for a child at least until they reach independence. Therefore your age will be taken into account when considering the age of the child you could adopt.
Do we have to be married?
No, we welcome applications from single people, male or female, married or unmarried couples, same sex or heterosexual couples, people who are divorced or widowed. If you are applying to adopt as a couple it is important that your relationship is stable and well established. This would mean that you have lived together in your relationship for at least two years.
Can I be considered for adoption whilst having fertility treatment?
To be considered for adoption you will need to have completed any fertility investigations or treatment and made a definite decision that this is no longer a choice for you. You will need to have been able to accept and come to terms with the outcome. This is a difficult conclusion for many people and the length of time to deal with the decision varies individually. We usually recommend waiting a minimum of six months since your final treatment before you consider adoption.
What about illness or medical conditions?
Adoption can be stressful and people need to be physically able to do the job. At an early stage all applicants will need to go for a medical with their own doctor. A serious illness or health condition which currently affects you or is likely to reoccur may prevent you from proceeding. However, if you have recovered from an illness with a clear prognosis you could still be considered. It is unlikely we would proceed with an applicant who is undergoing treatment for a serious mental health problem which is of recent origin. As all circumstances and conditions differ please discuss this with us to see if you can proceed with your application and we will consider everyone’s situation on their own merits.
Does it matter if I smoke?
We will not place children aged less than 5 years old, or a child of any age with respiratory problems with prospective adopters who smoke. For all children it is preferable to live in a smoke free environment, therefore applicants who smoke are unlikely to be readily matched with a child. For applicants who have given up smoking it is usual for us to expect evidence that they have been able to sustain this for at least the past 12 months; this includes the use of e-cigarettes or vapers.
What about criminal records?
Everyone in the household aged over 18 will have a ‘police check’. Anyone with a conviction for violence or offence against a child will not be considered. Other past convictions will not necessarily prevent you from adopting; it depends on the nature of the offence and how long ago it took place. The important factors will be your actions and behaviour since the conviction and whether you can evidence that you will not repeat the action. It is important to discuss your circumstances with us at an early stage.
Do I have to be employed?
It is not a requirement for applicants to be employed, however, we will want to establish that you are financially secure. This means that you do not have significant unmanageable debts or threatened with eviction etc. You will need to be able to show evidence that you can provide for yourself and a child or children.
Can I continue working?
It is an expectation that at least one adopter will take a minimum of six months leave from work to care for a child (on a full time basis) when they first come to live with you. In most cases adopters are entitled to paid adoption leave from their employer for 9 months with a remainder of 3 months unpaid. In some circumstances local authorities may pay you an additional adoption allowance to enable you to remain off work, although this is rare and cannot be relied upon in proving you are financially secure. The important factor is that you are available to be there to settle your child into your family in their own time.
Many adopters return to work after the first year and successfully arrange additional childcare; however, each child’s needs vary.
What if I already have children of my own?
Applicants who already have children are welcomed. Existing parents can bring skills and experience to the parenting task. We will need to take into consideration how an adopted child will fit in with your family and the potential impact on the children in your home already. It is advisable that an adopted child should be at least two years younger than any existing children in the family.
Why might an application be rejected?
Before any application is rejected you will be offered the opportunity to discuss your individual circumstances, however, below are a list of circumstances in which it is unlikely we would proceed.
- You have a criminal record for offences against children or another serious offence.
- You are not a UK resident. You or at least one of a couple must be domiciled (permanent resident) in the UK.
- If you or your partner are under 21.
- If you have a serious physical or mental medical condition that will impact on your ability to parent
- You have had a child of your own that was removed from your care.
The above list is not exhaustive and should you have any particular concern please contact us for advice.
When is it not a good time to consider adopting?
Although you might have made a decision that you would like to adopt, there are a few reasons why sometimes it might be a good idea to wait a little longer:
- If you are planning major changes in your life, such as moving house or changing jobs.
- You are experiencing financial difficulties.
- You have suffered a death in your family in the past year.
- You are currently going through fertility treatment.
The above are a few examples of times that can cause stress and disruption to your life. Before starting the adoption process you need to feel happy, settled have plenty of focus and resilience.