Adoption questions answered

Adopting a child is a big decision and you may have questions about aspects of the process and becoming a family.

Colourful wooden lettersWe've gathered some of the most frequently asked questions here. But we are happy to answer any others you may have. Get in touch using the contact details on our site and we will respond quickly.

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.

What sort of children need adopting?

Smiling girl with Down's SyndromeChildren who need adoption include babies and children of different ages. They come from different backgrounds, cultures and faith groups. Sometimes there are brothers and sisters who need to live and grow up together or children with learning or physical disabilities.They will all have had a difficult start in life and will require unconditional love and support to help them flourish. For more information, please see our section Discover our children.

Are there many brothers and sisters who need to be placed together for adoption? 

Sibling group waiting for adoptionNearly half of the children awaiting adoption are sibling groups. Most of these are groups of two or three children who want to stay together. Research* has shown the benefits that siblings can gain from being raised together: for many, it is the closest relationship they ever experience, and they are able to share information and feelings, and develop a shared sense of identity.

What extra qualities do adopters need to be able to consider siblings?

Adopters who do best with siblings are often those with some experience of children, either from within their family, or who have gained experience through voluntary work, and who have a good support network who can offer both emotional and practical help

Do siblings need to have their own bedroom?

In most cases it is preferable for adopted children to have their own bedroom to ensure that they have privacy and their own space.

Do adopters get extra help if they adopt siblings? 

When children are being placed with a new family the prospective adopters and social workers agree on what support the new family is likely to need. This could be practical help, therapeutic involvement or in some cases financial support and can be reviewed at any time at the request of the family or the adopted child/young person themselves.

Will my adopted child(ren) see their birth parents?

Happy father with daughter on his shouldersChildren who are adopted all 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 of their place in your family. Sometimes it is helpful for an adopted child to have contact with a brother or sister who has been adopted into a different family, or to see a grandparent.

Occasionally adopted children may need to see a birth parent.The guiding principle is that any contact should be in the child’s interest. 

Sometimes contact can be managed by exchanging letters between the adopters and someone from the child’s past once or twice a year. This is known as ‘letterbox contact’.

The level of contact depends on what is best for the child and your views about what is right for your child will be considered. Once the Adoption Order has been made, it will be your responsibility to decide on what is best for your child, which is important as what feels right can change over the years.

Who can adopt?

We welcome enquiries from people of all backgrounds, race and ethnic, cultural and faith groups. Our children come from a range of backgrounds and we need families to reflect this. 

For more information, please see our section Find out who can adopt with us.

Could I be too old to adopt?

Children's wooden toy xylophoneWe need adoptive families of all ages. Often people who have had more life experience and who have overcome some difficulties in their own lives have a lot to offer as they’ve developed resilience and can understand struggles that an adopted child may have. As long as you are over 21, which is the minimum legal age limit, and as long as your health and energy is likely to remain good for many years, into the child’s adulthood, we want to hear from you. For more information, please see our section Find out who can adopt with us.

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.

What about my criminal record?

Minor motoring offences and other minor offences committed more than 10 years ago are unlikely to affect your application. 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 are not able to pursue an application from anybody with a record of crimes of violence or abuse against children.

Can I adopt a child from overseas?

Children's play kitchenAdopting a child from a country outside of the UK is called Inter Country Adoption. Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption has an agreement with PACT (Parents And Children Together) to advise about adopting a child from abroad and PACT may go on to complete your assessment if you wish to adopt from overseas.

Should you require further information on Inter Country Adoption or wish to take forward an application to become an approved adopter for a child from another country please contact PACT directly on 0300 456 4800. Alternatively you can email or visit the PACT website.

How do I adopt my step-child?

If you are a step parent interested in adopting your partner’s child or children, you should, in the first instance, get in touch with your local authority. For Cambridgeshire County Council please contact the Kinship Team or 01223 699768.

How do I find my birth records or family?

If you are an adopted adult living in Cambridgeshire and you would like information from your birth records or to discuss finding your birth family please contact us using the contact details on our site. For more information, please see our section Your birth records

What happens to siblings in the care system? By Ashley C & Roth D, Family Rights Group, January 2015

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