Adoption questions answered
General adoption FAQs
What does it mean to adopt?
When you adopt a child, you become their parent and assume full legal responsibility for their wellbeing. It is a lifelong commitment. The adopted child remains a full member of your family throughout life, just as if they had been born into the family.
We work with you towards being approved as an adoptive parent and to match you with a child. After the child comes to live with you and is settled into your family, you will be supported in making an application for an Adoption Order. After the order has been made, the child will usually take on your surname and end all legal ties with their birth family. You become legally responsible for him or her and have full parental responsibility – the birth family cannot take him or her back after the order has been granted.
Help and support is available from us, as and when you need it.
Can I adopt a baby?
Coram's early permanence placements allows babies who may need adopting to placed with families who can go on to adopt them if that is decided to be the best option for them. Read more about our early permanence here.
What kind of adoption support can I expect?
During the adoption process, all our adoptive parents are given specialist one-to-one and group training to learn about what is involved. As part of this, you will have the chance to meet parents who have previously adopted through Coram. Our adoptive parents tell us this is extremely reassuring. But our support doesn’t end there. We have long recognised that adoptive families may need support at different times from the beginning of getting to know your new child throughout their childhood and beyond. We recognise that adopting a child presents different challenges for adopters, and we are always available to think about issues that you want to discuss.
Coram offers a wide range of support including a Stay and Play group for adopters of pre-school children so that you can get to know other adopters and chat informally to our social workers. Other services include parenting skills courses for adopters, study days, access to Coram Creative Therapies (art therapy and music therapy) for adopted children, and help with accessing education and health services. Adopters are welcome to phone the Adoption Support Team if you have a concern about your child that you want to discuss with a professional. We are available to support you and your family for as long as you need.
How will my adopted child come to understand their birth history?
As they grow up, adopted children need to understand their background and why they could not grow up in their birth family. You will be helped to know how to explain this to them and reassure them. There may sometimes be some contact with someone from the child’s original family - for example there may be “letterbox contact” where letters between the adopters and someone from the child’s past are exchanged via a confidential address once or twice a year. In other cases, it is helpful for the adopted child to have contact with a brother or a sister or to see a grandparent. The level of contact depends on what is best for the child and your views about what is right for your child will be important when plans are agreed. Once the Adoption Order has been made, it will be your responsibility to decide what is best for your child, which is important as what feels right can change over the years.
Can my adopted child trace their birth family?
Most adopted children are curious about their origins however settled and loved they feel. It is important to all of us to understand who we are and our history – this is more complicated for adopted children and as they grow up, you as their parents will help your child to understand his/her background. When they reach 18, adopted young people are entitled to their original birth certificate with the details of their birth mother and possibly birth father, who they can trace if they wish. Coram offers training to adopters about sharing their own background information with adopted children, and also to help children and young people develop awareness of the risks of social media and how to use it safely.
I already have children at home, will this affect whether or not I can adopt a child?
Having children of your own does not prevent you from adopting. However it is important to think about how your children at home will feel about the adoption, especially as an adopted child will need a great deal of individual attention whilst they are settling in, and perhaps for a long time to come. You also need to think how you would meet the different needs of all the children involved.
Children over 18 living at home will need to be police checked, as will any other adult member of your household, in accordance with statutory regulations.
What if I am not or my partner is not a UK national?
We welcome enquiries from people who are UK residents or who are domiciled in Britain. Please contact us if you are interested in adopting but are unsure about your status.
Who can adopt FAQs
You need to be at least 21 years old to adopt, but there is no upper age limit. Everyone who contacts Coram is considered individually and in relation to the needs of the children who need families. As long as your health and energy are likely to remain good into the child’s adulthood, we want to hear from you. For more information please see our section Who can adopt?
Can I adopt as a single parent?
Yes! Single people can adopt - both men and women. Lots of single people have adopted through Coram and we support all of our adopters through the process. For more information please see our section Who can adopt?
I am gay, can I adopt?
Yes! Coram has been supporting same-sex adoption for many years. Adoption via Coram is open to all people who can meet the needs of children needing families and we welcome enquiries from people whatever their sexuality. For more information please see our section Who can adopt?
I have a criminal record can I adopt?
If you have a criminal conviction or caution for offences against children, or certain sexual offences, then you will not be able to adopt. Other offences will be considered in the context of when the offence occurred and what has happened in your life since then. Many people are able to move on from a difficult period in their lives but we would need to be reassured about your life and stability now. We have a statutory duty to take up police checks (DBS checks) on all adopters, so this information will be shared with us if you apply – but it is helpful to have a chat at an earlier stage so we can think about this with you and advise you about your own situation.
I work full time can I adopt?
You will need to be able to stay at home for an extended period - usually six months to a year depending on your child’s age and circumstances - to help him or her settle. Adopters are entitled to statutory adoption leave and pay for up to 52 weeks to help manage this time. If you adopt as a couple, one of you may take adoption leave while the other may be able to take paternity leave or shared parental leave. In addition, prospective adopters, who are expecting a child to be placed, are now entitled to time off work on five occasions (main adopter), or two occasions (secondary adopter), for adoption appointments. For more information see the First4Adoption website or Gov.uk.
Adoption finances FAQs
I am unemployed, or on a low income, can I adopt?
Your financial status and employment circumstances will be taken into consideration. But having a lower income or being unemployed won’t automatically rule you out as long as you can provide a loving and secure home for a child.
Can I get any financial support when I adopt?
Adopters are entitled to statutory adoption leave and pay and may also be eligible for child benefit. Your child will also be eligible for the Pupil Premium (preschool and school support funding) and the Adoption Support Fund aimed at helping families access therapeutic services for their adopted children. All three-to-four-year old children in England and some two-year-olds can get free early education or childcare. More information is available from First4Adoption and Gov.uk.
I don’t own my own home, can I still adopt?
You need to have suitable accommodation for a child and this will usually mean a spare bedroom. You don’t need to own your home, but you do need to be settled in secure accommodation where you plan to remain for some time in order to ensure stability. We look at every case based on your personal circumstances.
Can I adopt if I have debts?
Your financial circumstances and employment status will be considered as part of an adoption assessment, but having debts doesn’t necessarily rule you out. We would, however, need to be confident that you are in a position to be able to provide a child with security.
How much does it cost to adopt?
Adoption agencies do not charge to assess or approve adopters. But prospective adopters do have to have medicals. Medicals usually cost between £80 and £120. The fee is set by the GP and not by Coram.
There are no other direct costs involved in adoption but you may find you need to make lifestyle changes such as reducing your working hours, which will have an impact on your income.
When an adoption application is made to court, there is a one-off court fee. This fee applies to each child in a sibling group, however large. The local authority looking after the child usually covers the court fees on behalf of the adopters and should also make a commitment to pay any additional legal fees or court costs, so this should not be a cost to you.
Health issues and adopting FAQs
I have health problems – will this affect my ability to adopt?
Our prime concern is that you have the necessary health and energy to meet the child's needs through to adulthood. Because of this, all prospective adopters and foster carers are required by statutory regulations to have a full medical examination carried out by their GP and reviewed by the adoption agency’s medical adviser, who will give an opinion on whether you are suitable to adopt. We are interested in any history of mental or emotional difficulties as well as in physical health, as all aspects of your health may impact on your ability to care for a child.
Can I adopt if I have a disability?
Having a disability is not a bar to being an adoptive parent as long as you can meet the needs of children who need families.
Can I adopt if I have a mental health problem such as depression or anxiety?
Conditions such as depression or anxiety are not necessarily a barrier to adoption depending on your own personal history. However these matters will be considered when you make your application. Being an adoptive parent can be stressful as well as rewarding and we will explore during the assessment phase how you manage your condition, how you have managed it in the past, and how it could affect your ability to look after a child.
Children waiting for adoption FAQs
Can I adopt a child from another cultural background?
There are children from a wide range of cultural and ethnic backgrounds who need adopters. We are keen to hear from people who believe that they can offer a child from a different background to their own a loving home and help them to feel proud of who they are. Find out more in our section The children we find families for.
Can I adopt my stepchild or a relative or friend’s child?
Adopting a child who is connected to you is sometimes possible. There are also other arrangements that you may find work for you and the child, such as kinship fostering or a special guardianship order made by the Court to give a child a legally secure place in the family where they are living (e.g., with grandparents). Coram is not able to assist with these kinds of adoptions and arrangements. For further information please contact your local authority.
Can I adopt a child from abroad?
Coram does not arrange adoptions from abroad. Please refer to the UK Government website's adoption information for further information about adopting a child from overseas.
Adults who have been adopted FAQs
How do I find my birth parents?
If you were adopted and you are now over 18, you can apply to the adoption agency that placed you for adoption, or the local authority where you now live, and ask for their Adoption Support Service Adviser to assist you. Visit the Adoption Search & Reunion website for more information.