Common questions about adoption

What is adoption?

Adoption is the placement of a child on a permanent basis with a family who are not their birth parents. Adoptive parents have full legal responsibility once the adoption order from the courts is complete.

With the severing of all ties with the birth parents, the child usually takes the adopter's family name.

Who can adopt?

Potential adopters can come from any background just like the children. You:

  • can be a home owner or be in rented accommodation
  • can have a small house or flat
  • do not have to be married
  • can be single or in a same sex relationship
  • are not hindered by a past criminal record as this may not necessarily prevent you from adopting depending on the nature of the offence
  • could be in work full time, part time or unemployed
  • having a disability may not necessarily prevent you from adopting
  • may already have children of your own.

What special qualities do you need?

You need:

  • the capacity and willingness to learn about adoption and about parenting a child who has had difficult early life experiences
  • security and stability in your own life
  • a good network of family and friends who can support you emotionally and practically
  • patience with a child's behaviour which may reflect a difficult background
  • a willingness to learn about an adopted child's needs
  • the ability to devote quality time to a child
  • unconditional love
  • resilience and a sense of humour
  • a willingness to ask for and accept help, including professional help if required.

What support will I/we receive?

You will receive:

  • support from the first contact with the Adoption Service
  • an initial visit to your home to discuss any questions, and explore potential progression
  • an allocated social worker to help you with each step of the way through the assessment
  • adoption preparation and training sessions
  • peer supervision during the training period with other prospective adopters
  • access to support groups and a regular newsletter update
  • six months follow-up support after a child is adopted
  • ongoing support from six months onwards after adoption from a specialist 'Post Adoption Support Team'
  • support from national support agencies, such as BAAF, Adoption UK and New Family Social.

Why do children need adopting?

Some birth parents feel, after long and careful consideration, that they are not at a stage in their lives when they want to be parents and come to the difficult decision that they wish their child to be placed for adoption.

In most circumstances, children have to be removed from situations of abuse or neglect and it has become clear during the process of assessment that they are unable to return to live within their families.

Children who have had a difficult start in life are sometimes developmentally delayed or have health-related problems.

They may have experienced lots of moves and had several changes of carer including periods in local authority foster care. These children will therefore need a great deal of help and support whilst settling-in and attaching to a new family.

Most of the children needing adoption in Brent are over two years old. They may be part of a group of brothers and sisters who need to remain together or they may have a disability or other special needs.

Many will have had a difficult start in life and need the security of a loving family who can nurture and care for them throughout their childhood and beyond.

All of these children need and are entitled to love, attention, understanding and the security of a permanent family.

What if I want to adopt a child from overseas?

This is known as intercountry adoption (ICA) and is governed by different regulations, although the preparation and assessment process is very similar.

We can only assess Brent residents for ICA and there is a fee for this assessment.

We strongly advise you to seek legal advice and guidance from the InterCountry Adoption Centre and Department for Education.

Who do we contact for more information?

Phone 020 8937 4525 to speak to someone about adoption or contact us to register an inquiry or book onto an information evening.

You can also download an information pack (see the links on the right).

If you are interested in adoption but are not quite sure, you might want to think about fostering as an alternative or as an introduction to looking after children.