Could you adopt a child | Oxfordshire County Council

Could you adopt a child

Find out about who is suitable to become an adoptive parent.

Toddler walking in park

We match every child to the right family, taking into account all the needs. We also consider matching children with a family that reflects their ethnicity as closely as possible and therefore we are always on the lookout for a wide range of people with different backgrounds and experiences. We particularly welcome people who can offer a home to:

  • children with disabilities
  • sibling groups
  • young children aged five and older
  • children under five who have complex health needs or uncertainty surrounding their development
  • children of a dual heritage

Having experience with children helps but this does not have to be gained by having your own children.  To help you prepare for adoption it is expected that you get experience through volunteering before or during the assessment.

Frequently asked questions about eligibility

Do I need to live in Oxfordshire?

We sometimes consider applications from those living outside the county, particularly from people who wish to adopt older children, children with special needs, or from enquirers from a dual heritage or ethnic background. 

If you are wishing to adopt from overseas your assessment would be carried out by a voluntary adoption agency, IAC (Inter-country Adoption Centre).  The costs of these placements are met by the prospective adopters.

How does the council find out more about my suitability?

All applicants undergo statutory checks carried out with the police, local authority, health department and education services. Anyone with an offence against children is barred by law from becoming an adopter. Personal references, for example from friends or employers, are also taken up. All prospective adopters undergo a medical examination carried out by their own GP.

Am I too old to adopt?

You have to be over 21 years of age to adopt, but there is no upper age limit. Our aim is to place children with families who will be able to fully support them throughout their childhood and into early adulthood. We hope to place children with adopters where there is no more than 50 years between the adopted child and the oldest adopter.

Do I have to be married?

No, applications are welcomed from single people, people in partnerships and those who are married, but any relationship needs to be stable and you need to have been living together for a minimum of two years.

I'm on my own, can I still apply?

Yes, we welcome single adopters who can demonstrate that they would be able to offer a child what they need.

We're a same sex couple, does that make a difference?

We welcome couples and individuals with a strong and supportive relationship, whatever their sexuality and/ or gender identity. 

Could I adopt if I am from any ethnic or religious background?

Unfortunately there is a shortage of all minority ethnic adopters, in addition to this the number of children in care from BME backgrounds is increasing each year. We need adoptive parents to give safe and loving homes to children, helping each child to thrive in their new environment.

New factsheet for LGBT adopters

A range of new free factsheets are now available for your LGBT adopters. Written with the help of volunteers and Adoption Plus, they cover topics including adoption basics, approaching assessment, approaching the matching process and school. Adopters can download them from the NFS website.

I haven't got a clean criminal record

We look at all circumstances individually. You are only automatically debarred from adoption if you have a record of offences against children, or significant offences of violence or a sexual nature.

I have a health problem or a disability, does that matter?

Not necessarily. We ask families to have full medicals to ensure that they are fit enough to meet the needs of children placed with them.  If you have any worries about your health then we suggest you let us know and we will request a medical straight away.

I have children already, is that a problem?

No, the experience that you have gained in parenting children is valuable. However, we would expect your birth child(ren) to be at least five years of age and we have to take their needs and wishes into account.  We can begin your assessment when your birth child is 4 half years old.   We would only place children younger than your own and with a two to three year age gap between them, as research has shown this approach has the most positive outcomes in adoption. We contact any children not living with you, including grown up children, to get their views.

Is it a problem if either myself or partner smokes?

Due to the evidence of the effects of passive smoking on children we would not be able to place children in a smoking household.  We would ask that you have given up conventional cigarettes at least 6 months before your registration of interest is accepted.  The use of E cigarettes would not be a barrier to accepting your registration of interest but would be discussed in the home study.

I work full time, does that matter?

The children we place for adoption have experienced loss and instability therefore they need their parents to be available for them. They would not thrive with substitute carers, childminders or day nurseries.

Most people are entitled to adoption leave for 12 months and employers are often sympathetic to requests for part-time hours. For some children, returning to work after adoption leave would not be appropriate but this will be discussed with you. Under some circumstances for a limited number of children there are some means-tested allowances available to help if finance is a problem.

To apply for the pack complete the online form or call 0800 783 5724.

Additional useful information


First4Adoption provides lots of information for people considering adoption. 

New Family Social membership

We are registered with New Family Social (NFS) which is the UK network for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) adoptive and foster families. You can join NFS to share advice and support online, and to find others near you to share your journey. 

Last reviewed
10 May 2017

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