Who can apply to adopt?

People can apply to adopt whether they are an individual, married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner.  You can adopt jointly without being married.

If you are applying to adopt as a couple, the term couple extends to unmarried couples (including same sex couples) and those in a civil partnership.  However, the term couple does not extend to two people, one of whom is the other’s parent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt or uncle.

An individual means any person who is not married or in a civil partnership.

We need a wide range of people to provide loving and permanent homes for children in need of adoption.  The assessment will focus on whether you are able to adequately care for a child and meet their emotional and physical needs.  Obviously your health and wellbeing are a significant consideration too but your parenting skills, understanding of children’s needs and strong support system are also important.

Adopters in Northern Ireland include:

  • Couples who have birth children and who have extended their family by adopting a child or sibling group
  • Single people who do / do not have birth children
  • Couples who do not have birth children
  • Foster carers who have cared for a child / sibling group for a significant period of time
  • Family e.g. grandparents, aunts / uncles

Other factors to take into consideration:

  • An adoption assessment will not be undertaken while fertility treatment or investigations are ongoing
  • Legally, applicants must be over 21 years old but there is no upper age limit for adopters. Generally applicants should not be more than 45 years older than the child they are adopting
  • Experience of child rearing is not necessary but experience of caring for a child in some capacity is helpful
  • Applicants are welcomed from all social, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds
  • Applicants should be emotionally stable
  • Applicants do not need to be home owners but tenure needs to be secure
  • Applicants are required to show evidence they are financially secure
  • Applicants can be in full or part time employment.As a minimum requirement all applicants will be required to avail of statutory adoption leave
  • Applicants will be required to attend a preparation course. The process is designed to help participants decide whether adoption is right for them
  • Applicants must consent to having a police record check, social services record check, a full medical completed by their GP, and provide the name of two referees.

What qualities and skills do adopters need?
Some adopters may have parented their own children or foster children, others may have little experience of parenting. There are many different kinds of families needed to meet the various needs of the children who require permanent homes.

Adopters are needed who can:

  • Commit to providing a child with a secure, stable, loving family
  • Take legal responsibility for the child once adopted, but be able to ask for help if needed
  • Be open with their child about their background and birth family
  • Help their child develop social skills and provide them with experiences they may have missed
  • Have fun and maintain a sense of humour.

We welcome enquiries irrespective of your race, religion, language, culture, gender, disability, age, and sexual orientation.