In England and Wales, countries part of the UK, there is now a two-step adoption process that takes about six months to complete. This six month period is about the time it takes for a social worker from an adoption agency to get to know a prospective family who wants to adopt a child. It includes getting to know the individuals and preparing them for the task ahead. Potential persons will take this time to go through the legal processes and paperwork. They will also need to collect two personal references from at least friends.

According to Family Lives matching a child with potential parents occurs in the following manner:

After prospective adopters are approved, their agency will try and match them with a child. They can also enquire about children being profiled in Be My Parent and other family-finding publications, like Adoption Today and The Scottish Resource Network newspaper or in local media.
In England and Wales, agencies also refer prospective adopters to the Adoption Register for England and Wales which links waiting children with waiting approved adopters. The proposed match will be presented to an adoption panel who will recommend whether to proceed with the placement.

For a child to be adopted, he must:

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

Both birth parents have to 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 he was not adopted.

Potential parents can adopt a child if they are:

  • 21 years old or older (there’s no upper age limit).
  • married.
  • single.
  • in a civil partnership.
  • an unmarried couple (same sex and opposite sex).
  • the partner of the child’s parent.

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

Family Lives, an adoption agency from the UK, provided great and sound advice for parents or potential parents of adopted children, as well as other topics. Visit the website at

Rebekah Lewis is currently a college student studying social work and sociology. She wants to be a voice for foster kids as well as a child abuse victims advocate. She is a co-founder of a nonprofit organization designed to prevent abuse in the rising generation. She loves to write, hike, and throw random dance parties.