Frequently Asked Questions

Explore some of our frequently asked questions about adopting in the UK here, which cover the key areas.

Anyone who wishes to adopt must be over the age of 21 years but there is no upper age limit. It is however important that adopters are sufficiently healthy to have a reasonable life expectancy and that they are sufficiently energetic to cope with the demands of parenting a child or children.

There is no hard and fast rule and each case would be considered on its merits. As part of the approval process you would be required to have a medical with your General Practitioner. This medical report would be sent to IAC as your adoption agency. It is important to be honest and open from the start about any medical conditions you may have so that IAC has full information upon which to base any decision. IAC welcomes enquiries from prospective adopters who have lived with sensory impairment or other disabilities. 

Medical evidence is clear that passive smoking is detrimental to children’s health and many Local Authorities would not give priority in matching a family with a child where there was a smoker in the house. We would encourage you to make every effort to cease smoking prior to accepting the Registration of Interest.

We encourage and are interested in hearing from prospective adoptive parents who are married or living together, whether heterosexual or in same-sex relationships, or who are single. All types of people make good adoptive parents and it is your commitment to wishing to parent through adoption that is of interest to IAC. If you are married or in a relationship then the agency would wish to ensure that the relationship was stable and enduring.  Sexuality is not an issue.

You do not have to be a British Citizen in order to adopt. If you are single you must be domiciled in the British Islands or have been habitually resident in the British Islands for one year preceding the application to the court for an adoption order. If you are couple applying then both of you must have been habitually resident in the British Islands for at least one year prior to making an application to the Court for an adoption order concerning a child or one must be domiciled.

You cannot adopt if you have been found guilty of or cautioned for a prescribed offence as specified in Adoption Agency Regulations 2005. These are generally offences against or involving children. If you do have a criminal record, separate from these offences, then it is important to advise the agency at the very beginning so that we are fully aware and can advise you. You would be asked to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service check which will look into your background in relation to involvement with the justice services.

If you were adopting as a couple IAC would expect one partner to be in a position to take at least 4-6 months away from their work through adoption leave which you would be entitled to receive from your employer. If you are adopting as a single carer IAC would expect that you would be in a position to take a similar period away from work. The early days of placement are very important in allowing parent(s) and child to get to know each other and to begin to bond.

Adoption is a very different way to found a family than by having birth children. The process itself requires time and focus and trying to pursue both at the same time is not advised. Normally IAC would expect there to be a six month gap between any treatment and the initial meeting with the Agency.

There is no minimum income level to adopt domestically and as an agency we have no set views about minimum levels of income. We would wish to ensure that you were sufficiently stable financially to be able to support a child through to independence.

You do not need to be a homeowner. If your current accommodation is temporary or insufficient or unsuitable for the placement of a child then we would expect you to move to more suitable accommodation prior to being approved. A child would not need to have their own bedroom but there must be sufficient space in the home for a child. Your home also has to be safe for a child.

IAC welcomes interest from families who already have birth children and who wish to extend their family through adoption. IAC would want to ensure that there was a sufficient age gap between the age of the adopted child and the age of a closest birth child, by age. We would normally be looking for an age gap of least one year.

There are very few babies in need of adoption and the majority of children are toddlers and above. IAC’s domestic programme seeks specifically to recruit prospective adopters who are interested in siblings or who are themselves of Black/minority ethnic heritage or dual heritage and wish to adopt a child of that heritage or; who would consider and have the skills to adopt transracially or who will consider children over 4 (48 months) or children with health needs, disabilities or delay or where there are background risk factors such as where the birth parents have suffered with mental health conditions, or where birth parents have alcohol or drug dependency.

At present Intercountry Adoption Centre are only able to work with prospective adopters in the domestic programme if they live within one of the London Boroughs, or within the Home Counties, that is Essex, including Southend and Thurrock), Kent, Berkshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire).

The approval process usually takes up to 6 months from the time IAC accepts your Registration of Interest to your being approved as suitable adopters. 
How long you would wait for a match with a child will vary from case to case but many families are matched within one year.

You will need to adopt the child through the UK Court and an application cannot be made to the Court until the child has lived with you for 10 weeks.

Is it is not possible to have dual approval. However once you are an approved adoptive parent it is possible to ‘convert’. This would involve additional work with the agency but IAC has considerable experience in working with families making this change. Our focus is to find the right family for the right child wherever in the world the child lives.