How Long Is the Adoption Process in the UK?

  • Posted on
How Long Is the Adoption Process in the UK?

Adoption can be a wonderful thing - it can give a child in need the chance at a new life and a better start off in the world. All children need and deserve love and nurturing. Children that become adopted will often have much better outcomes than those that stay in care or with their biological families who would not offer the appropriate care for them.

As adoption is not a simple process, there is a lot of waiting in the search for a child to be matched to your family. To better understand how long the adoption process is in the UK then read the information from this article to learn more.


Introduction to Adoption

Adoption is a huge decision for anyone. It is the legal process of taking on the role of becoming a parent to a child that is not biologically your own. Adoption usually happens due to circumstances where children’s biological families are no longer able to look after them anymore in cases where children have suffered from significant trauma, abuse, violence or neglect.

The decision to adopt should not be taken lightly, bringing a child into a new family runs the risk of them bringing their trauma and having problems disrupting the new family’s dynamic.

Adoption makes the new adopter family the new legal parents. This means they will have the same rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them.


How Long Is the Adoption Process UK?

There is no short answer to this question. The time it takes to adopt can be dependent on the type of adoption you are wanting to apply for.

To give you a good idea, adopting a foster child can take 6 to 18 months and wanting to adopt a newborn baby can take anywhere between 2 and 7 years. Being flexible in your requirements for adoption can help to minimise the time it takes to adopt a child.

Adoption is a lengthy process, and it has to be due to the fact that prospective adoptive parents must be able to prove to the authorities that they can provide for a child. When giving birth to your own child, you do not have to prove anything. Showing you have the stability and permanency of a loving home is something that the social services must be sure you can provide to a child.


The Adoption Process

To give you more clarity on the process of adoption and to inform you of the different steps that make up the total time it takes to adopt, then our guide on the process of adoption can be found below.


Background Checks and References

The adoption process will begin with the necessary checks, references, and preparation. During these first stages, you will learn everything about adoption. You will have health assessments done and reference checks too.

When this is complete you will have a home visit from an adoption social worker. They will check through your information, validate your references, and check documentation whilst discussing aspects of your adoption learning with you. The social worker will then write a report and talk with you about their recommendations for your progression in the adoption process.

This part of the process can take around 2 months to complete.



The next part of the process is expected to take four months. This stage involves intense assessment and preparation as well as more training. Preparation at this point will help you become ready to be recommended for approval to adopt.

When you progress, you will be allocated a social worker who will assess you and will visit you on an average of six to eight times to write a Prospective Adopters Report.

You will attend an adoption preparation course and your social worker will have you present to an adoption panel.


The Adoption Panel

You will need to become approved by the adoption panel. The panel will be made up of professionals, social workers, adoptive parents, adopted people, and medical and education professionals along with a chairperson and an independent panel advisor.

The panel will read your report and will have questions prepared for you on the day to ask you or your social worker.

A recommendation will be made by the panel and the decision maker from the adoption agency will make the final decision about your suitability to become adoptive parent(s).


Finding a Match

Once approved, the next step is to find a suitable match and the right child for you to adopt. Your social worker will be working hard to find children whose needs you can meet.

It is the job of a specialist social worker to do the job of finding the suitable family for a child in care.


The Child Moves In

Once the right child has been found for you and you can meet the needs of the child, you will spend time getting to know the child. The support does not stop here, your social worker will support you throughout and they will visit and stay in the lead-up to the child moving in. After a while, you will then be able to apply to the court to become officially the child's legal parent or parents.


Bell Lamb & Joynson

At Bell Lamb & Joynson we know and agree that family is everything. We have a highly experienced team of family law solicitors who can help you through lots of family law cases, including those people who wish to adopt.

We want to help you to help a child who needs a loving family and home. We can help you through the adoption process, from assisting with the social worker side to helping you when it comes to your time to apply in court for the approval of the adoption panel.

Get in touch with us today if you need our support - our friendly team of experts will be waiting and will be happy to assist you. All our contact information can be found on our website.

    Get in touch