Can I Adopt?

Are you considering adopting one or more children? Want to know more about the adoption process? Here are the questions we are asked most often about adoption, the children, and us. Pick yours out here, or work through them all to learn more about what’s involved and to separate fact from fiction about whether you can adopt.

About Adoption

Adoption gives a child a new family when living with their own family is not possible. It is a way of giving a child an opportunity to start again – a legal process and permanent commitment that should be undertaken after careful examination of the head and heart. Adoption is a way of providing families for children, creating a new relationship that provides the long-term security and love that children need.

There are currently nearly 2,110 (March 2023 Coram-i data) children in the care of Local Authorities in England and Wales who are waiting for adoptive families.

Most children waiting to be adopted have had complex and difficult early life experiences, including abuse, trauma, and neglect. As a result of these experiences, children may have a range of emotional, physical, or learning difficulties.

Families are particularly needed for brother and sister groups of all ages, older children (over 4 years old), children from an ethnic minority heritage, and children with additional needs. Click here to view profiles of the types of children who need families.

A total of 2,980 children in England were adopted in the year ending 31st March 2023. You can find out more about the legal aspects of adoption on the government website relating to adoption. There are very few absolute barriers to adoption but explore this page to hear the answers to some of our typical questions. 

All prospective adopters can choose between adopting via their regional adoption agency/local authority or an independent, voluntary adoption agency like CCS. Here at CCS, we encourage prospective adopters to explore both routes in determining what is right for them. Each agency will have a particular offer regarding how they can help after adoption and a different feel and emphasis. The process and guidelines are set by the government and are the same for both, although there are some differences that you should be aware of. The main distinction is that local authorities have several children in their care whom they are looking to place with adopters. These children’s ages, ethnicities, and needs will vary over time. A voluntary adoption agency, like CCS, trains, assesses, and approves adopters and then finds children for these adopters from Local Authorities around the country. At CCS we work with you to find your children whether they are near or far and have experience working with Local Authorities across the country. In the first instance, the Local Authority adoption team will look at the children in their care and then, if there isn’t a suitable match, will look to other agencies.

In this region, the Local Authority adoption teams from Bristol, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, and Wiltshire all came together in 2019 to form one, separate body operating from three sites called Adoption West which is the new Regional Adoption Agency.

  • Ofsted Outstanding – CCS is the only Ofsted Outstanding adoption agency in the area and has been so for the past four inspections and eleven years.
  • We offer a unique adoption support service that is free, bespoke, and genuinely lifelong. It’s what our reputation is built upon.
  • When you adopt with CCS you will be assessed and supported by a social worker who, once you are approved, will be the same person who then finds your children and takes you through all the stages of them joining your family. We have a small team of experienced workers and we pride ourselves on building genuinely lifelong relationships with families. Our adoption social workers and therapists have over 300 years experience of working in adoption between them.
  • CCS families can call on not only “their” social worker for support but also, should they need it, our in-house Therapy Service (funded through the government’s Adoption Support Fund) which is provided through The Centre for Adoption Support and Education and run by CCS.
  • CCS runs The Centre for Adoption Support and Education which operates from the same offices. All our families have access to its wide range of groups, workshops, courses, and social events – all designed to support you and your adoptive family.
  • CCS employs many adopters and people whose lives have been touched by adoption. Many of us have been where you are now and we understand how it feels.

We can work with most families who live in the following areas: Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Swindon, Wiltshire, and South Wales.

This is because once you have your child/ren at home with you we will be in regular contact for support visits and settling in and the distance needs to be a practical one for all concerned.

If you are unsure whether you fall within our catchment or not then just give us a call on 0117 935 0005 or email and discuss with our adoption adviser what might be possible.

No, CCS does not have a waiting list for beginning the assessment of prospective adopters. All initial inquiries are responded to quickly by our adviser Becky, who is also an adoptive parent and happy to talk informally about adoption and your situation, Monday – Thursday 9 am – 5 pm, and Friday 9 am – 4:30 pm. Telephone 0117 935 0005 or email

Once a child’s Adoption is finalised, it is up to the parents to request help and support as and when they need it. This could be anything from needing a listening ear after a difficult time, to help choosing schools or finding therapy for a child. We would hope that, having built a relationship with us, you would trust us and value our experience to ask for this as you need it. We are certainly always here for you and your adopted child from the early years to much later on in life, since we recognise that the impact of Adoption can be lifelong. We provide extensive support for adoptive families through The Centre for Adoption Support and Education.

The government has laid down a suggested timeframe for the adoption process that all agencies aim to adhere to. The process is broken down into two stages. Stage 1 is a minimum of 2 months and Stage 2 is a minimum of 4 months dependent on your personal circumstances. It is possible to take a break of up to 6 months between Stages 1 and 2, depending on your personal circumstances e.g. sometimes adopters take this time to increase their childcare experience, finish some house renovations, or get some counselling. In a nutshell, the adoption process is considerably faster than a few years ago.

We know from research that it is damaging to children if they are moved any more than is necessary around the care system from carer to carer. Permanence is needed for children to thrive. Early Permanence is a practice that aims to reduce the number of moves a child in the care system potentially makes. A child, (often a young child or a baby, but Early Permanence is also used for older children or sibling groups) is placed with adopters who are also approved foster carers and when a legal decision is finally made about the child’s future and adoption is the plan, then these adopters will go on to become the child’s new parents.

However, if the courts decide that the child should go back to their birth family then they will return the child, happy in the knowledge that they have given them a secure start and built a positive attachment. Early Permanence is a practice that takes a very child-centred person and where the adults take the risk but it has huge benefits for the children involved. CCS has led the development of Early Permanence in the region and has a small team who work to further its take up. In March 2018 we became the first adoption agency in the country to receive the new Early Permanence Quality Mark in recognition of our excellent practice in this area of work. This was awarded again in 2022.

For more information see our page What is Early Permanence? If you choose to adopt with CCS you will be asked to explore whether Early Permanence might be a route you would consider taking. To read about the experiences of one Early Permanence carer who went on to adopt her son click here.

To read our book of stories from people who have been down the Early Permanence route click here.

Sometimes it seems that all the media pick up on are the negative stories that arise from Adoption. The positive news is always less headline-grabbing. From a large piece of research carried out by the University of Bristol in 2014 (Beyond the Adoption Order), the adoption breakdown rate in England runs at between 3 and 9%, that is 3-9 in 100 children leave their adoptive families before they are 18. Over the last 20 years, CCS’s disruption rate has been 6%. It is certainly true that while parenting is demanding, adoptive parenting is even more so and it is why so much time and effort is put into assessing and educating adopters about what they might encounter and supporting them as they need after adoption. Anecdotally, many adopters will tell you that while it has been no easy ride they are very happy indeed that they have taken this path and can’t imagine life without their children.

Gone are the days when children weren’t told they were adopted until they were 18. We realise now that it is important for children to grow up with an understanding of their roots and their past, so talking about adoption and birth family is an important part of an adoptive parent’s role – and something that we can help and support you with. However, it is the courts who decide the nature of the contact that a child should have with their birth family. Typically this would be indirect letterbox contact between the adopters and the birth family, perhaps once or twice a year.

Direct face-to-face contact is still less common, but research has shown that this contact can be beneficial for children in helping to understand their identity; so direct contact is considered more thoroughly than it has in the past when making plans for children’s futures. Direct contact is often arranged for siblings who have not been adopted together, with foster carers or with the birth family before adoption.

The plan for contact can change over time and must take into account the needs of the child and the adopters’ views. We encourage all adopters to be willing to meet birth parents/s at a one-off meeting around the time their child/ren are moving in with them, as this is beneficial for all.

No, you don’t have to pay to use the services of CCS Adoption. Undertaking the adoption approval process is a free service and apart from paying your GP for an adoption medical (GPs usually charge around £120- £140 for each medical, however, the specific amount is set by your GP practice) and taking time off work to attend training and interviews with your social worker there are no fees from us. However, we are a charity and we fundraise to make up the difference between what we receive from the central government for our work and what we need to cover the true cost of providing lifelong support to adopted children and their families – a responsibility which we take very seriously. We are extremely grateful for all the support we receive from adoptive families and their supporters, which comes in many forms. Whilst we would be unable to accept a donation from you if you were undertaking the approval process, once approved and before receiving your adoption order we are allowed to receive small donations. After the adoption order, our fundraisers would love to hear from you, whether you want to donate some money, take on a sporting challenge, involve your faith organisation or workplace in fundraising for us, or have another idea about how you might help.

The majority of children waiting for adoption do so with at least one brother or sister. It’s the reason why we ask prospective adopters to keep an open mind about how many children they might adopt and how large they see their family finally becoming. During the assessment, we will discuss with you the right number of children and ages for your particular family and situation, whether that be a single child or several.

The children who need adoptive families range from newborns to ten-year-olds – some have additional needs, some are children from ethnic minority heritage and some would benefit from staying with their brothers and sisters – all are different. The majority of children placed are between 2 and 4 years old. A few years ago there was a change in social work practice, and therefore a move towards trying to give children Early Permanence with foster parents who would become adopters if a decision is taken further down the line that they cannot live permanently with their birth family. This Early Permanence route has major benefits for the baby/child who is no longer at risk of moving around the care system and receives good parenting as early as possible.

As a result, children are being placed through Early Permanence, some are babies, some are toddlers or young children, and some are being placed with their brothers and sisters. These children may come to their Early Permanence carers from foster care, or directly from birth families. But equally, there are more risks for the Early Permanence carer in that the child might return to the birth family and there will be more unknowns in terms of a baby’s future development. Here at CCS, we find families for children of all ages, including babies. The average age of the children we found families for in 2018/19 was just under three years old. Many prospective adopters, for understandable reasons, start their adoption journey with a fixed idea of wanting a child as young as possible, ideally a baby. We ask them to try and keep an open mind and to explore what is really right for their particular family and situation. Your feelings about becoming an Early Permanence is something that we would want to explore in depth through the adoption assessment and training process and discover if that is right for you. You can read the story of an Early Permanence carer who went on to adopt her baby son here. We have produced a book of Early Permanence stories which you can read here to get a feel for what’s involved. In March 2018 CCS became the first adoption agency in the country to receive a new Early Permanence Quality Mark in recognition of our excellent practice in this area of work and this was re-awarded to us in 2022.

Home and Family

CCS works with prospective adopters who live in: Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, Swindon, Wiltshire and South Wales.

This is because once you have your children at home with you we will be in regular contact for support visits and settling in and the distance needs to be a practical one for all concerned. If you are unsure whether you fall within our catchment or not then just give us a call and discuss with our adoption adviser what might be possible.

You do not need to own your own home in order to be considered for adoption. What is important is that you can demonstrate that you would be able to offer a secure and stable home for a child. However, Local Authorities usually expect you to have a separate bedroom for each child you were hoping to adopt.

New Family Social gave CCS Adoption the Agency Commendation Award in 2022.

Yes, you definitely can and CCS has experience approving a wide range of people from the LGBTQ+ community. The last 18 years have seen huge changes in adoption. Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not a factor in your right to be considered, or indeed your ability to adopt. At CCS we recognise the strengths and skills that LGBTQ+ adopters bring and positively welcome enquiries from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender adopters. If prospective adopters have transitioned in terms of gender it would be important that they were established in their gender identity and had a secure sense of self before applying. Over half of our approved adopters in the last year have been people from the LGBTQ+ community. You can read an adoption story from a same-sex couple here. Our entire team have received training from New Family Social on best practice in this area. CCS run a regular social group for LGBTQ+ adoptive families through The Centre for Adoption Support and Education. We are also members of New Family Social.

There are a disproportionate number of children from a minority ethnic background waiting for adoptive families and these children, sadly, often still wait the longest. Whenever possible adoption agencies will always try and find parents for children who match their ethnicity and cultural background. Local authorities will often be looking for adopters who match the ethnicity of the children in their care, which can fluctuate. Voluntary Adoption Agencies – like CCS – are not responsible for a particular group of children but can look for children who best match the parents from around the country. So, if you are from an ethnic minority background, and specifically from a Black African or Black Caribbean heritage, you are likely to be very valuable to an adoption agency like us and here at CCS we would love to talk with you. However, while adoption agencies try to make ethnic matches as closely as they can for children, permanence for the child is the most important need to be fulfilled. As a result, when agencies can’t match the child’s ethnic background they can also place children transracially i.e. with parents of a different ethnicity to the child, provided the adopters are able to demonstrate their ability and commitment to supporting the child in all aspects of their identity.

Yes, you can. This is what is known as transracial adoption. When new parents can’t be found for a child that matches their ethnicity and cultural background local authorities will consider parents of a different ethnicity provided they can take on the extra task of supporting the child’s racial and cultural identity. In practice, this usually means white parents adopting a child from an ethnic minority background and involves a level of education and engagement as a parent around what it means to grow up and live in our society as a person from an ethnic minority background.

Yes. you can. Part of the adoption process would explore your support networks as these are going to be very important to you, whether you are adopting as a single person or a couple. CCS provides extra support for single adopters in the form of our Singles network, currently an online monthly meet-up. If you are in a couple then we would expect you to have lived together for at least a year before starting your adoption journey.

You don’t have to be a British citizen to adopt a child, but you (or your partner, if you’re a couple) must have a fixed and permanent home in the UK and must have lived in the UK for at least 1 year before you begin the application process.

If you have a criminal caution or conviction for offences against children, or certain sexual offences against adults then you will not be able to adopt but, with the exception of these specified offences, a criminal record will not necessarily rule you out. The key is to be totally honest in your application, and this will enable us to explore any criminal cautions or convictions with you and what these may mean in terms of adoption.

Yes, you can. You can adopt a child if you have birth children or before you consider having birth children. If before then it would be important for the adopted child to be settled before considering birth children. And you would need to recognise the possibility that it could potentially be something not in the best interests of that child. If you already have birth children, it is usually the case that an adopted child would be the youngest in the family by around 2 years at the point the adopted child is being placed. Your children (whether they still live with you) or adopted adults will be included as part of the assessment.

Children over 16 will usually be DBS checked, as will any other adult member of your household.

It is a good idea for adoptive parents to be reasonably fluent in English so that they can advocate for a child once that child is with them and so that the concepts of adopting a child can be fully understood. We would recommend that you attend an English course prior to enquiring about adoption.


Yes, you can. Your financial circumstances and employment status will always be considered as part of an adoption assessment and we would encourage you to consider how you will manage financially. Openness and honesty about financial pressures are encouraged right from the outset of your application. However, having a low income, debt, or being unemployed does not rule you out and there is no minimum income required. Being able to support your family financially is important but so too is being able to spend enough time with your child/ren as part of building attachment and both would be explored in the adoption process. What we are looking for is stability and security in your situation.

If you are employed you may wish to look at your adoption policy at work, to understand what adoption leave and pay rights you have. You may be eligible for Tax Credits or other benefits such as Child Benefits, Disability Living Allowance and Carer’s Allowance (if you adopt a disabled child). And in exceptional circumstances, there may be financial support from the placing local authority. Click here for further information on this from First4Adoption.

No, but the main carer will need to be able to take at least six months and preferably twelve months off in adoption leave, sometimes longer. This is driven by the needs of the child. A child will need time to build a relationship with their new family and it will take time for them to feel safe and secure. The leave can be shared if you are adopting as a couple. If an older child is being placed and attends school then after a period of settling in it may be possible to work and still be there for the child at either end of the school day. Sometimes a child may need a parent to be off work longer and in exceptional circumstances, financial support may be available from the placing authority. For people who are self-employed and not entitled to adoption leave allowances then we would need to discuss how to balance the need for work and offering a child the stability that they need.

If you are employed you may wish to look at your adoption policy at work, to understand what adoption leave and pay rights you have. You may be eligible for Tax Credits or other benefits such as Child Benefits, Disability Living Allowance and Carer’s Allowance (if you adopt a disabled child). And in exceptional circumstances, there may be financial support from the placing local authority. Click here for further information on this from First4Adoption.


Yes, you can. There is no upper age limit, but as caring for children is demanding you will need to be able to demonstrate the energy and emotional and physical health necessary to care for a child through to adulthood. The majority of our adopters these days are in their 30s and 40s.

Yes, you can. Many people come to adoption after having tried to have children through fertility treatment. To help people learn more about what it’s really like to adopt a child, CCS Adoption has an adoption adviser who is an adoptive parent. She is very happy to talk informally about what it’s like to adopt, about the types of children waiting for families and about the adoption process here at CCS. You can explore adoption with us whether you are considering, or having fertility treatment now, or if it is something you are moving on from. However, the fertility treatment will need to have ended before you can start your assessment. We have no hard and fast rules about the period between the end of treatment and starting the adoption process, however, many adoptive families tell us that waiting at least 6 months before starting the formal assessment process was helpful for them, but give us a call to discuss at any time. We only want people to begin the process when they are emotionally ready and positive about the opportunity to start or complete their family through adoption. Click here to read the story of Susan and Matt who made their family with CCS Adoption after fertility treatment.

None of these facts would necessarily prevent you from adopting. And many adopters successfully adopt whilst having some of these issues. However, we would want to explore with you, your own GP (all applicants must arrange and pay for a medical with their own GP) and our medical adviser, whether or not any of these things would significantly reduce your life expectancy, or prevent you from being able to effectively parent a child throughout their childhood. If it’s a health condition, the main considerations will relate to the frequency with which you are unwell, how that manifests itself and who is there to offer support at such times. If the health issues are lifestyle-related then we would expect you to demonstrate a commitment to making positive change. And if the issue is an intermittent one then we would explore with you whether or not there were strategies that could be developed to support you and ensure your child was not affected during these times.

Smoking/vaping will not necessarily rule you out from adopting. However, smoking/vaping poses significant health risks and passive smoking impacts children. Local Authorities placing children will not prioritise families where someone smokes or vapes so we would expect a commitment to changing this.


We welcome everyone, people of all faiths and none. Many of our adopters have come to us because of our historical connections with the Church. Others have told us that while they feared they might meet prejudice around their faith this has not been the case. Your faith is not under scrutiny when you go through the assessment process. What would be explored is your ability and attitude to parenting a child, who may or may not end up sharing your faith.

The roots of our organisation are in the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1904 as the Catholic Children’s Society and for many years the children who were adopted through the organisation were the children of “unmarried mothers”. In 2005 the law changed, permitting same-sex couples to adopt. Subsequently, the agency broke its formal connections to the Church and in 2008 changed its name to Clifton Children’s Society. We are now simply good neighbours.

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