Adoption FAQs

A family playing football outdoors

As a prospective adoptive parent, you're bound to have lots of questions about adoption, why is why we've created a list of our most commonly asked questions about adoption.

Who can adopt? 

Anyone over the age of 21 can adopt, including single people, couples who live together and married couples. You can adopt regardless of your sexuality, ethnicity, religious beliefs and employment status. You can also adopt whether you are a home owner or a tenant, and you can adopt whether you’re a first-time parent or have other children.  

Why might a child need an adoptive family?  

There are many reasons why a child might need permanent care away from their own families and there are many types of care that can meet their needs, including adoption.  A parent might ask for their child to be adopted if they feel they are unable to care for their child themselves, however, the more common scenario is when the Local Authority - or a company acting on its behalf - needs to remove a child from their home by agreement of a Court. This can happen if there is evidence of neglect or abuse.   

What is this difference between adoption and fostering? 

Adoption is permanent; when a child is adopted, the rights and responsibilities of their birth parent(s) are legally removed and are given to the new adoptive parent(s). 

Fostering is temporary; when you are caring for a child on behalf of the Local Authority and their birth parents. You have no legal rights or responsibilities. Fostering placements are usually short-term, although some can be long-term, and you will care for the child until they are able to go to a permanent home, whether that be with their birth parent(s) or adoptive parent(s).  

How long does the adoption process take? 

Stage one typically lasts around eight weeks and stage two typically takes around 16 weeks, so around six months in total. However, the actual time many vary depending on the individual circumstances of the child and the adoptive parent(s). Find out more about the adoption process.

Do I have to own my own home to adopt? 

No – as long as you have a permanent residence, which can be rented, mortgaged or owned, you can adopt.  

What support will I receive after the adoption? 

We provide support throughout the adoption process, including after the adoption has taken place. Find out more about the support available after an adoption here.

What if I have a criminal conviction? 

People with certain criminal convictions, such as offences against children or violent crimes, can’t adopt. However, other convictions may not prevent you from adopting. For more information, please speak to a member of the Adopt Coast to Coast team on 0300 026 8268.

What if I smoke? 

You can still adopt a child if you smoke, however you will be ineligible to adopt a child under the age of five and any child that has certain medical conditions, such as asthma. 

Can I adopt if I have pets? 

Yes, however an assessment will be done on the pet(s) to ensure they are safe to be around children. 

Can I adopt if I have a disability? 

Yes, you can adopt if you have a disability. 

Will I get to choose the child? 

Once you are approved as a prospective adopter, the next step is to be matched with a child who could thrive in your family.

Your social worker is responsible for seeking a potential child for you, initially from across the North East and North West of England. You will be involved in the process throughout and together, we will work towards finding the right match for the child and for you and your family.

Some prospective adopters are matched with a child quite quickly, but for others it may take longer. Currently most approved adopters are being matched within 6 to 12 months.

Is there any contact with the child’s birth family after the adoption? 

The majoring of adopted children have indirect contact with significant birth family members, through our Post Box service. This is typically an annual letter. Birth siblings who are adopted by different families can have ongoing contact. All contact arrangements are made in the best interests of the child and will be discussed with you during the adoption process. 

What qualities should adopters have? 

Adoptive parents don’t have to be superheroes, but they should have some special qualities! 

You should: 

  • be patient
  • be flexible
  • be child-centred
  • be kind
  • have a sense of humour
  • have lots of determination to make a commitment to a child, even where there are difficulties and challenges

In short, you'll be like every other parent but with an added dimension that helps you commit completely to a child not born to you.  

Didn't find what you were looking for? We're part of the regional adoption agency Adopt Coast to Coast. If you can't find an answer to your question, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us on 0300 026 8268 or email adoptcoasttocoast@durham.gov.uk

Downloads
Adoption Statement of Purpose (2021)

Our Adoption Statement of Purpose provides useful information for children and young people, birth families, prospective adopters, adopters and others about adoption in Sunderland.

In Adoption

  • Find out more about adoption from the families who've adopted with us.
  • Some of our most frequently asked questions for prospective adopters.
  • Find out more about the types of support available to you after adoption.
  • Our adoption service is rated 'good' by Ofsted.
  • Find out about support for birth families during the adoption process and after adoption.