Can I adopt?
To become an adoptive parent, you have to meet certain requirements that are set down in law and have certain characteristics and strengths in order to meet the needs of children who can not grow up in their birth families.
The legal requirements
- You will be at least 21 years of age
- You will not be able to be considered as a prospective adopter if you or another adult in your household has been convicted of a “specified offence”. These are predominantly offences against children. If you have convictions or cautions for any offences please tell us and we will advise on whether they will prevent an application
- You need to be domiciled or habitually resident in the British Isles. Please ask us for advice if you are in doubt about whether you meet the requirements. (Where there is a joint application, only one of the applicants need to be domiciled in the British Isles or both should be habitually resident here).
The following sections describe what the Bradford Adoption Service is looking for.
- Discuss with us your age and the age of the child you wish to adopt. If you are over 45, it is more likely that we will consider you for a child over the age of 4, but we can be flexible depending on our need for placements and that you are offering. If you are over 55, we would wish to talk to you about your health and ability to bring up a child to adulthood.
- Live within the Bradford district, or within a reasonable travelling distance outside this area. If you live outside of Bradford, we are more likely to be able to consider your application if you are offering a much needed resource.
- Discuss with us if you suffer from any physical or mental health condition.
- Have your own network of support from family and friends and show that you can make warm relationships.
- Tell us about your ethnicity or religion. We will discuss with you if your ethnicity or religion mean that it would be hard to place a child with you. We will advise you if it appears that other adoption agencies may be in a better position to take up your application.
- Be single, married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner, including same sex relationships (for at least 2 years).
- Have ended any infertility investigations or treatment at least 6 months ago.
- Be a non-smoker if you wish to adopt a child under the age of 5 (you must have been stopped for at least 6 months).
- Not have any convictions or cautions for offences of violence within the last 8 years. This applies to any member of your household who is aged 18 years or more.
- Not be currently pursuing an application to adopt with any other agency.
- If you have children (birth or adopted), they must be over 3 years old at the time you apply; and if your child is adopted it must be at least twelve months since the adoption order was made.
- Be committed not to use corporal punishment.
- Not be the owner of any dangerous pets or dogs listed as dangerous under legislation.
Becoming a parent
- Have a spare room (or a big enough bedroom if adopting a child of the same sex as the other child in your home) and be aware of safety issues surrounding bringing up a child.
- You do not have to own your own home in order to adopt.
- Ensure that you will be available to offer full-time care from placement until the child is sufficiently settled and secure. This will usually be a minimum of 6 months. There are now national guidelines on statutory adoption leave for which some applicants may be eligible.
- Have some understanding and previous experience with children, and show you enjoy being with children.
The special aspects of becoming an adoptive parent
- Be able to recognise that adoption is a life-long process and be willing to make use of support when it is needed.
- Have an attitude of openness and be committed to explaining to your child about their adoption.
- Help your child to keep in touch, either directly or indirectly, with significant people from the past.
- Be able to try to understand a child’s behaviour and help them make sense of this.
- Have reached a stage in your life where you feel settled and are not experiencing a great amount of change or difficulty.
If you proceed with an application to adopt, we will explore these questions with you:
- Can you accept that a child may have had damaging experiences in the past, but not use these to explain all the child’s difficult behaviour?
- Are you able to feel empathy; able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes?
- Are you able to understand and manage your own emotional needs, and not expect an adopted child to meet these needs?
- Can you respond to situations in a ‘thinking’ way rather than just automatically?
- Can you show, if you are childless, that you have resolved your feelings about this sufficiently to accept an adopted child for who he or she is, rather than as a replacement birth child?
- Have you the potential to learn, adapt, successfully manage ‘changes’ like moving house or leaving home, and cope with loss such as bereavement?
- Can you reflect on your life experiences and recognise their influences on you?
- Can you recognise what you do well and areas you find difficult?