Steps to adoption


Your adoption journey

Adoption is an exciting, challenging and life-changing experience for parents and the children waiting for a permanent, loving and secure home. It’s a big decision and we are here to help you discover if it is right for you and to support you in your journey to extend your family.  

The adoption process

To start your journey, we suggest you come along to one of our regular information events where you can meet adoption social workers and experienced adoptive parents who can talk you through the process, start to answer some of your questions and help you to consider your route to adoption. You can find an event here or contact us by phone or email.

Your route to adoption with us will be personal to you. We will make sure you are listened to and supported at all times and will ensure that you always have all the information that you need.

We have split the adoption process into a number of steps to help you get a clearer view of what to expect.

Girl and bear

Step 1 Information and Exploration

The first step is usually when you start reading and researching about adoption and talking with your family and friends.  Then you would attend, or watch one of our information events, to find out more about the process, how you are assessed, the children and what support is offered.

If you attend an event you can ask our social workers and adoptive parents lots of questions. We can arrange this too if you watch the information event film. Afterwards, if you are still interested in adopting, we will arrange an initial visit to talk to you at home. If after this ‘visit’ you are happy to proceed we will ask you to complete a Registration of Interest form.

Boy on climbing frame

Step 2 Registration and checks

Stage One starts when we receive your completed Registration of Interest form and have your consent to start the formal adoption process, which includes obtaining references and background checks. This stage should take no longer than two months.

Family in countryside walking

Step 3 Preparation and training

While this is taking place you can start your preparation and training. Attending the adopter preparation training will help you understand more about adoption and help get you ready. At the end of this stage we will make a decision and let you know if you are suitable to continue with the process and move on to the next stage.

Girl in Peace Hall

Step 4 Full assessment

Stage Two is an in-depth assessment, where a social worker will work with you and your family over a four-month period, assessing your strengths and discussing the sort of children you feel you could adopt, before presenting it in a report to the Adoption Panel. This is the point when you would be formally approved to adopt.

Dad and girl

Step 5 Matching you with the right child

We will work with you to match you to a child locally or if necessary search across a wider area using a national database called Linkmaker. We will share detailed information with you about the child and further discussions with your social worker will help you decide if you wish to proceed. A detailed report will be presented to the adoption matching panel for a final recommendation.

Girl on shoulders

Step 6 Introductions and placement

Once a match has been made, you will spend time getting to know your child with the support of your social worker and your child’s social workers. A series of visits to their foster family and visits to you lead up to your child moving in with you.

Mum and baby

Step 7 Making it permanent

When everyone is satisfied that your child has settled into your family we will help you apply for an adoption order. This is submitted to the court and, once granted, you will to become your child’s legal parents.

The adoption panel

The panel is made up of a wide mix of people, and can include adoptive parents, adults who themselves have been adopted, birth parents, someone from the council, professionals from children’s services, health and legal teams, as well as members of the local public who aren’t involved in the adoption process but have a good understanding of children’s needs, such as teachers.

Members of the panel meet to consider your assessment report and decide whether you’re a suitable adopter. The adoption team will invite you to attend the panel meeting at which your assessment is being considered; it is your decision whether you attend, though most prospective adopters do. Your social worker will explain fully what happens at panel before you go and answer any questions you might have. 

Panel members will want to ask you some questions to understand more about you, for example your motivations to adopt, what you have learnt during the process and what you can offer an adopted child. Your assessing social worker will be at the panel and will take part in the discussions. After the meeting, the panel will let you know what their recommendation is.

The Agency Decision Maker, after taking into account all the reports and the minutes of the panel meeting, will make the final decision as to whether or not you’ve been approved to adopt. The panel will write to you to confirm their decision.

Download an adoption information guide

To find out more about the adoption process, please download information guide to adoption. 

Ongoing support

Once you start your adoption journey with One Adoption, you will be welcomed into our adoption community and a wide range of support will be available to you, including peer mentors, workshops and training, support groups and social activities for parents and children. We can also offer specialist support to meet your family’s specific needs.

For further details about what support is on offer in your region please see:

Other routes to adoption

Early Permanence

In addition to the adoption process outlined above there are a number of routes that people take when wishing to adopt a child, including Early Permanence (EP), also known as ‘fostering to adopt’. Read this page here.

Step parent/ partner adoption

If you wish to adopt your partner's child (or another child known to you who is not in local authority care) this is called non-agency adoption. please read this page here

Overseas adoption

If you wish to adopt a child who is not in the UK please contact the Yorkshire Adoption Agency

Foster carer adoption

If you wish to adopt the child you are fostering - please contact your social worker

Jargon Buster

Please see our useful Jargon Buster which explains what some of the common terms used in adoption mean. 

Adoption jargon buster

If you have any questions about starting the adoption process please do call our adoption advice lines to have a chat with one of our social workers.

We look forward to hearing from you.