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Thousands of prospective parents in the UK apply for adoption each year. Here's a guide to the basics of adoption and the steps involved.
 - Adoption

Who can adopt?
- Anybody over the age of 21 can adopt, whether single, married or in a relationship.
- There is usually a maximum age gap of 40 years between adoptive parent and child, depending on the age of the child.

The adoption process

- The first step is to contact an adoption agency (your local authority or a registered adoption agency). You can search for one in your phone book or on the British Association for Adoption & Fostering website.
- The adoption agency will ask you to fill out an application form. If your application is successful, you will then be assessed as a prospective adoptive parent.
- You will be assigned a social worker who will make a number of visits to your house to meet your family, look at your living arrangements and talk with you in detail to assess how suitable you are as a parent.
- You will be asked to provide references from friends and you will be required to have a health check-up.
- The agency will carry out checks with your local authority, employer and the police.

Request for approval

- Your social worker will write a report on you, which will then be sent to an adoption panel. A panel is made up of about ten people, including a social worker, medical advisor, legal advisor, councillor and several independent members (such as adoptive parents or adopted adults).
- The panel will decide whether to approve you as an adoptive parent and they might also recommend the type of child that would be most suitable for you to adopt.
- Once you have been approved, your adoption agency will review your approval annually until you have adopted a child.
- To be granted an adoption order (which makes you the legal parent of the child), the child must have lived with you for a certain period of time.

Overseas adoption
There are many reasons why people might consider adopting a child from abroad.
- The process for overseas adoption begins with assessment by a UK adoption agency. The application is then passed on to the Department for Children, Schools and Families which issues a Certificate of Eligibility to the relevant authority in the country to which you wish to apply for adoption.
- The relevant country will try to match you with a child, send you documents relating to the child and invite you to visit.
- Depending on the country, you may then obtain an adoption order in the country and apply for entry clearance to bring the child into the UK or you will obtain entry clearance, bring the child into the UK and make an application for an adoption order here.
- In some countries, a UK adoption order is needed in addition to an adoption order in the country itself.

For more information

- British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF):
- Adoption UK:
- Department for Children, Schools and Families:

Parenting Editor
25/01/2008 18:12:00
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