The adoption process

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

Are you the adopter we need? We need adopters for children of all ages, brothers and sisters, and children with extra needs. We are particularly looking for adopters for sibling pairs and groups, toddlers and young children age 4 years and older, and children with disabilities.

If you feel you have the skills, but would need some financial support to do so, please speak with one of our assessing social workers who can discuss with you further.

Find out you are ready to adopt before contacting us.

After reading through the information below, 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.

After attending one of our information sessions, and when you feel ready and decide you would like to go ahead, you will need to meet with one of our social workers. This meeting will be a virtual meeting and will give you an opportunity to ask any further questions and also us an opportunity to find out more about you and your circumstances. If after this meeting you are ready to proceed we will send you a Registration of Interest (ROI) form to complete and return.

If you are a second time adopter please contact the team for a discussion and they’ll send you a copy of the ROI.

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 a health assessment, along with references and checks for each applicant.

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

When you have completed Stage 1, you will have an ‘End of Stage 1 Home Visit’ from an Adopt South West social worker. They will check through the information given on the Registration of Interest form, validate your original references and checks documents, discuss aspects of your adoption learning, and talk with you about your experiences so far. The social worker will write a report with a recommendation for your progression to Stage 2.

Stage 2:


young girl sitting

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

boy holding football

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.