The adoption process

A brief outline of each stage of the adoption process to help you understand a bit more about what to expect

If, after reading through the information below, you decide you’d like to know more, please download our information pack which contains lots more guidance and advice about the process as a whole.

Following your first enquiry, you will be invited to an informal information session where we will talk to you about the adoption process and answer any questions you may have. You will also have an opportunity to meet other prospective adopters and hear from experienced adopters.

If you decide that you would like to go ahead, you’ll be asked to complete a registration of interest form and a social worker will complete a home visit.

If your registration of interest is accepted we can move you onto the more formal two-stage assessment process which should take about 6 months to complete.

Stage 1:

Checks, references and preparation

During the first stage of the process, which is expected to take two months, you’ll learn about what is involved in adopting a child and we start to obtain references and checks for each applicant.

Adopters will be expected to undertake preparation training, spend time researching adoption and complete an adoption journey log.

Stage 2:


The second stage, which is expected to take four months, involves more intensive assessment and preparation as well as further training so that you are ready to be recommended for approval to adopt a child.

When you progress into stage two you will be allocated an assessing social worker who will visit you on average six to eight-times and write a Prospective Adopters Report.

You will also be expected to attend an adoption preparation course.  At the end of stage 2, your social worker will present you and your report to an adoption panel.

Adoption panel and approval

The panel is made up of professionals, including social workers, medical and educational professionals, adoptive parents, adopted people, a chairperson, a minute-taker and an independent panel advisor.

You are invited to attend with your social worker. The panel will have read your Prospective Adopters Report, so may have some questions to ask you or your social worker on the day.

The panel will make a recommendation and our Agency Decision Maker will then make the final decision about your suitability to become an adoptive parent/s.

Finding a family

Once you have been approved as suitable to adopt, your social worker will work with the family finding team to identify children whose needs you could meet.

Finding a family for a child with an adoption plan is a huge responsibility and we have specialist social workers who spend their time working with adopters, their social workers and the social workers of children with an adoption plan to find and match children with adopters who can meet their needs.

Moving in

Once a match has been made, you spend time getting to know the child with the support of your adoption social worker. A series of visits and short stays lead up to the child moving in. After a while, you can apply to the court to become their legal parent.