This page looks at who the children placed for adoption are, where they come from, and other factors for prospective adopters to consider. But finding a child is not just a case of sitting back and waiting for the right match. Once you’ve been approved to adopt by your agency, we explain how you can promote yourselves as adopters and take an active part in the search for your future child.
There are around 4,000 children waiting to be adopted in the UK at any one time. They tend to be children already in the care system, often living with foster families, because they have been removed from their birth parents for different reasons. Very few babies are ‘given up’ by their parents for adoption.
Children waiting to be adopted come from a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and have a wide range of different needs. Many are school age, some have brothers and sisters who need to be placed with them, and they often have experiences of abuse, neglect and early instability, resulting in challenging behaviour.
Some children may have special needs, most will require additional support to help them come to terms with the changes in their lives.
Once you have been approved to adopt, there is likely to be a period of waiting before you are matched with a child. This can be frustrating, but there are things you can do to help the process along.*
Keep reading anything relevant about adoption – make use of the Adoption UK Lending Library, talk to adoptive parents, visit your local Adoption UK support group, read magazines and explore our Message Boards.
There are also ways you can take a proactive part in finding your child:
Many children with a range of needs or medical conditions need adoptive families. As well as providing a loving family for them, these children require parents who will be able to meet their additional needs and act as ‘advocates’ to ensure they get the services they need.
These can be children with conditions such as cerebral palsy or Down’s syndrome, or those such as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, which relate to why they were taken into care in the first place.
When considering adopting a child in this situation, it is worth finding out as much as possible about the condition, how it affects them and any additional health and/or educational support they have now or may need in the future. If possible, ask to meet their current paediatrician/doctor/other professional.
Children can be adopted individually, or along with their siblings. If you are choosing to adopt a group of two or more children there are issues to consider:
Children need to have a firm sense of their identity and opportunities to develop it. For this reason many adoption agencies seek as close a match as possible between the child’s and the adopters’ heritages.
When a close match is not possible, transracial matches are considered, with parents having the difficult task of helping their child with their identity. This is often the case in intercountry adoption. Consider the following questions:
Often people hear about the distress of children in other countries and want to offer to adopt one of them. However, the loss of the child’s language, culture and extended family, can mean that this is not necessarily in their best interests.
Adoption UK would encourage anyone thinking about adoption to seriously consider the possibilities of adopting a child from the UK care system.
For more detailed information on intercountry adoption, contact the Intercountry Adoption Centre on 0208 447 4751.
This information and more is available in Adoption UK’s booklet, 'Guiding You Through The Adoption Process' available free to prospective adopters when they join Adoption UK or from our Online Shop.
*After approval most agencies like three months to be able to try and match before approaching external sources.