Adoption FAQs


Most of the children waiting for adoption are aged three or older, or in sibling groups. There are some younger children available for adoption through our early permanence scheme. This initiative involves babies and young children being placed with potential adopters who are also approved as temporary foster carers while decisions are made about the child’s future within the family court process. Please see our early permanence page for more details about this.

No, but to adopt a child in the UK you must have your main home here and have lived in the UK for at least a year before you apply to court for an adoption order. If you are not a British citizen it’s not a requirement to become one, but it does help if you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK or Dual Citizenship.

No. It does not matter whether you are single, married or in a partnership when you adopt a child. However, we do ask that couples have been living together for at least two years. The assessment process will also explore as far as possible that your relationship is stable as having children will require a major adjustment.

We encourage our adopters to obtain personal or professional ‘hands-on’ experience with children before adopting a child, particularly if you are thinking of adopting older children or adopting sibling groups. We give advice and ideas for voluntary work including working in a nursery, school or club for applicants to gain experience with children they do not know, as this will be helpful to prepare you as an adoptive parent. We can signpost you to agencies willing to offer such volunteering experience.

If you have been undergoing treatment to conceive, we will usually ask that at least six months have elapsed since the last cycle of treatment has finished before you can begin the process to adopt a child. This request will depend on how long you were in treatment and may vary case by case. We know from experience and research that this period after treatment allows for the one chapter to end and another to begin. It is best that adoption is a positive choice rather than a reactive one to infertility.

We are looking for people from across the south of England who are considering becoming a parent through adoption. Our teams are located in London, Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes, Brighton and Devon. It does not matter if you live in rented accommodation or own your house as long as your accommodation is stable, you have a spare bedroom and have no plans to move (or renovate) in the near future.

No, but the main carer will need to be able to take a minimum of six months but preferably 12 months off as adoption leave. This can be shared if you are adopting as a couple. This may need to be longer depending on the needs of the child and what you can afford.

PACT is aware of the medical evidence regarding the impact of passive smoking on children and is looking to place children in smoke-free homes. Local authorities placing children will not prioritise a family where anyone smokes, whether in the home or not. If you currently smoke and would like to adopt via PACT you will have to give up smoking (cigarettes and cigars). You will need confirmation from your GP that you have started a smoking cessation plan at least six months before we can offer to work with you.

Yes, you do need to be in good health to adopt a child but having a diagnosed medical condition does not necessarily bar you from adoption. As part of the adoption process you will need to have an adoption health assessment with your GP and this will need to be seen by PACT’s medical adviser. We need you to be medically fit to care for a child throughout childhood and have a good chance of being there for them into their adulthood.

Yes. If you have experienced or are currently experiencing a mental health problem it does not mean you would not be considered for adoption.

It is important that applicants are mentally and physically robust to cope with the demands of the adoption process and parenthood, so our medical advisor would want to understand the circumstances of your condition and be reassured that you would be able to deal with the inevitable stresses of parenting.

We would recommend you speak to your GP to discuss whether they would support your decision to adopt. Therapeutic support and recovery from mental health issues can be a strength for a prospective adopter.

It depends. We do require you to be in good health to adopt a child or children, and to have a good chance of being there for them into their adulthood. As part of the assessment process,  you will need to have an adoption health assessment with your GP and your body mass index (BMI) will be taken into account. PACT’s medical advisor will review the GP assessment and it may be that you are required to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle before you can continue the adoption assessment process.

Yes, although PACT aims to place children within families of a similar background to their own to enable children to identify with the adoptive family culturally, visually and emotionally.

Children from Black, mixed or minority ethnic backgrounds often wait longer to be adopted so PACT is always looking for people from Black and Black/White British backgrounds to apply to adopt. Where children can’t be placed in families who match their own ethnicity, PACT will look at an applicant’s family connections, support network and wider community to determine whether the child or children being placed would feel a sense of belonging within the family.

PACT is a UK adoption agency and only places children who live in the UK. If you live in the UK and you are looking to adopt a child or children from another country, you can find out more about inter-country adoption on the IAC website.

There is no fee charged by adoption agencies for applicants who wish to adopt a child, or children, from the UK. This is the same whether you choose to adopt through an independent or voluntary adoption agency like PACT, a local authority, or a regional adoption agency.

There can be charges for certain checks that are carried out as part of the assessment. These include the medical assessment from your GP, which many surgeries do charge for, and also an overseas Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check if an applicant has ever lived or worked abroad. There may also be a cost if there is a need for an interpreter and/or translator for any referees who are unable to speak or write in English. To find out more about the cost of adoption, read this article.

When assessing a family to become adoptive parents, we are not looking for people with high incomes or vast savings. Being on a low income or receiving benefits does not mean you can’t adopt a child and the adoption process is designed so that income is not a barrier for someone choosing to become a parent. However, having children can be expensive so we are looking for people to demonstrate they can manage their finances and are able to be at home with a child or children for at least 12 months. If you work, this will mean taking adoption leave.

No. Many of our adopters have birth children, adopted children and step-children already, or are already permanently caring for a child not related to them. If you are already a parent we ask for there to be a significant age gap between an adopted child and children already in the family. The age gap should be a minimum of two years but local authorities placing children with our families are currently requesting a bigger age gap and that, ideally, existing children in the family are aged seven or older.

The adoption process to become an approved adopter is designed to be completed in six months. The matching process will then be dependent on each individual situation, and the time it takes for adopters to be matched can vary, although adopters who can be opened-minded about the children they could care for are more likely to be matched quicker. In 2022, our average time between approval and matching was 6.9 months. For more details about the process see our Brief guide to adopting with PACT.

You do need to be at least 21 years old to adopt but there is no legal upper age limit. As caring for children is demanding you need to be able to demonstrate you have the energy, and emotional and physical health necessary to care for a child throughout childhood and into adulthood.

No. PACT actively welcomes LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people to enquire about adopting with PACT.

PACT has no set criteria about the religious beliefs of our adopters. Children waiting to be adopted come from a range of religious and non-religious backgrounds and we are seeking families to accommodate this variety – your religion and cultural background may be a positive factor as we can match you with a child who shares them, encouraging cross culture adoption.

It is likely we will expect you to keep contact with an adopted child’s birth family. This could be with their siblings who are living elsewhere or their birth parents or other significant adults. The contact can be indirect, through information sharing or direct contact.  Adopted children need to know and understand their history in order to help them make sense of their past. Having contact with birth relatives and significant people from their past can help children understand their identity and contact with these people may help the adoption be more successful. You would receive support and training from PACT about the different types of contact and the benefits of contact.

It is important that you have a spare bedroom for an adopted child. If you are adopting siblings, ideally they will each have their own bedroom, however, for some sibling groups, it may be possible for them to share. 

Download our guide to adoption

Our Brief Guide to Adoption contains information about PACT and what to expect from the adoption process. You can also fill in our enquiry form to receive a full Adoption Information Pack which will explain each step of the process in detail.

Download our adoption guide

Talking Adoption show

Hear PACT’s team bust some common myths around adoption, including who is eligible to adopt and what the process is really like.

To see more videos in our Talking Adoption series, click below.

View the Talking Adoption show on YouTube