To be adopted, a child must:

  • be under the age of 18 when the adoption application is made
  • not be (or have never been) married or in a civil partnership

This guidance applies to England and Wales. There’s different child adoption guidance if you:

This guide is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

The child’s birth parents

Both birth parents normally have to agree (consent) to the adoption, unless:

  • they cannot be found
  • they’re incapable of giving consent, for example due to a mental disability
  • the child would be put at risk if they were not adopted

Who can adopt a child

You may be able to adopt a child if you’re aged 21 or over (there’s no upper age limit) and either:

  • single
  • married
  • in a civil partnership
  • an unmarried couple (same sex and opposite sex)
  • the partner of the child’s parent

There are different rules for private adoptions and adoptions of looked-after children.

Living in the UK

You do not have to be a British citizen to adopt a child, but:

  • you (or your partner, if you’re a couple) must have a fixed and permanent home in the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
  • you (and your partner, if you’re a couple) must have lived in the UK for at least 1 year before you begin the application process

Adoption Support Fund

You may be able to get funding from the Adoption Support Fund. It provides money for therapy for children and families to help improve relationships, confidence and behaviour. Your social worker can apply for you.

If you’re not happy with how the social worker has handled the application, complain to the council. If you’re not happy with the council’s response, contact the Adoption Support Fund team.

Adoption Support Fund team
01223 463 517