Find out how to adopt a child, what's involved and what support you can access once you have adopted a child.
Adoption is when you provide a permanent new family for a child or children. You make a lifelong commitment to become their legal parents with the same rights and responsibilities as if they were born to you.
Who can adopt?
All sorts of people can make great adoptive families. You can be single, married or in a same sex relationship. You can be employed or unemployed, have children of your own and be from any ethnic, religious or cultural background. Above all you will have the desire to give a young person the kind of care that will make a real difference to their lives.
Children waiting for adoption all have one thing in common - they want to be part of a loving family home. Most children are aged between one and six years old. Some have been brought into care as their birth family are unable to look after them. They may have been abused or neglected and struggle to cope with their past.
Brothers and sisters
Some children may be in care with their brothers and sisters, and we try to keep them together. We are always looking for people who are interested in adopting, two, three or maybe even more children from the same family.
Different types of adoption
Fostering to adopt
Fostering for adoption is a specialist adoption scheme for babies and very young children who may still have a chance of being reunited with their birth family.
Fostering for adoption is a specialist scheme for babies and very young children who may still have a chance of living with their birth family. Although it is likely that they will be adopted, a plan for their future has to be agreed by the courts.
You could be approved as a foster carer for the child, with a view to adopting once the court's decision has been made.
It's a great way to build a relationship with the child before adoption, but there is an element of uncertainty until the court's decision is made.
Adopting a stepchild
If you want to adopt your stepchild so that you become their legal parent and share parental responsibility with your spouse/partner you can apply for step-parent adoption. The child must be under 18 at the time of the application to the court
To adopt your stepchild you must:
be over 21
be married to, or living with (for at least two years), the birth parent
have lived in this country for at least a year
have been living with your stepchild for at least six months
inform the child's other birth parent of your plans
To start the process you must tell us in writing that you want to adopt with:
yours and your partner's full name
the child's full name and date of birth
your current address
a brief reason why you would like to adopt the child
information about the other birth parent, including name, date of birth, address, that they are aware of the adoption and if they have any contact with the child
You and your partner must both sign the letter and return it to:
Adoption Team Manager Children and Young People's Services Spectrum 8 Spectrum Business Park Seaham County Durham SR7 7TT
As an adoptive parent, you will never be left on your own to cope. We offer a range of professional support to our adoptive families, including training and advice. See our for more information.
Why adopt with us?
We are rated as 'good' by Ofsted and we have 'Investing in Children' status. Our adoption service will help and support you every step of the way. Find out more about why you should choose our adoption service.