Adopting a child is a life-changing decision for everyone involved. It gives you the opportunity to provide a warm and loving home to a child or children who really need it. It also means you get to experience the joy of raising a child and building or expanding your own family. Whether you're thinking of one child or a sibling group, you won’t be doing it alone.
The first step begins with making an enquiry with us. We’ll explain how the adoption process works and we’ll support and guide you throughout the adoption process.
What is adoption
If you choose to adopt, you’ll provide a permanent family for a child or children who can’t be brought up by their birth families. It is a legal process in which parental responsibility is permanently transferred to you as the adoptive parent(s).
Your adopted child will take on your surname and become a member of your family for life. By law, the child loses all legal ties with their birth parents and becomes a full member of your family.
Who can adopt
Anyone can adopt. There is no typical adopter just as there are no typical children and we welcome enquiries from people of all backgrounds.
You don’t need to be married or have children in order to adopt. You can be single, married, in a civil partnership, cohabiting, and with or without children.
You must be over 21 to adopt and there’s no upper age limit, but we’ll expect you to have the health and vitality to care for your children up to an age of independence.
While you will need to live permanently in the UK in order to adopt with us, you don’t need to live in Sheffield to apply and we will consider enquires within a 25 mile radius of the city.
Adopters come from a wide range of circumstances. Whatever yours are, you will be treated with respect and everyone is treated equally. The most important thing is that you have the skills, energy and commitment to look after children and can provide them with the security and care they need.
Before you apply
Before you apply you should think about:
- how much time and energy you have to spare
- your health. You need to be well enough physically and emotionally to care for children. If you have a disability or health condition we may need to know about the details of your condition and consider the impact on your ability to look after a child. We will take guidance from your own GP and our agency medical adviser
- your family. You and your family will need time to adjust to this big life event. Adoption needs the support of the whole family if it is to be successful
- work. You don’t need to be in work but you’ll need to be able to support yourself and your child financially. If you are working you will need to be able to take some time off or ‘adoption leave’ to look after them
- physical space. You need to consider bedroom space, room for play and privacy
If you’re not sure about any of these concerns, get in touch with us and we’ll go through them together and work out it if you’re ready to adopt.
What may prevent you from adopting
If you have a police record we will consider your case individually.
Whether or not we approve your adoption will depend on the kind of offence you have committed, the circumstances surrounding it and how long ago it was committed.
If you have a record of offences against children, or significant violent offences, we will not consider you for adoption.
We will not consider your application if you are undergoing fertility treatment. Experience suggests that people need at least 6 months to come to terms with unsuccessful fertility treatment before they are ready to apply for adoption.
In all cases of loss and bereavement of a close family member, or if you have lost a baby during pregnancy, regardless of how long ago, we will need to consider if the time is right for you to proceed.
If you smoke, we would not allow you to adopt children of 5 years and under.
How to Adopt
The first step is to make an enquiry with us to express your interest in adopting. When you make an initial enquiry we will take some basic details and invite you to attend an Information Evening or meet with a member of the adoption team and see if you’re ready to start the adoption process.
Or call us on 0114 273 5010 to talk to us about adopting.
Adopt a child or children known to you
If you live in Sheffield and want to adopt a child or children known to you, contact us. Once we have received your notification we will advise and arrange a social worker to visit you.
Most applications come from step-parents wishing to adopt their step-child. However, anyone who has a significant relationship with a child, and has lived and cared for them for a significant period of time can apply for a non–agency adoption.
These applications are made privately and there are a number of things to consider. If you would like to know more please speak to our duty officer on 0114 273 5010. They will be able to advise you on the process and what to need to think about.
Adoption information evenings
Once you’ve made your initial enquiry you’ll be invited to attend an adoption information eventing. These are held every month and include a short presentation about the adoption process, followed by general discussions with adopters and staff. If you’re planning to adopt with a partner, both of you should attend.
This year’s dates are:
- Wednesday 16 October 2019
- Tuesday 5 November 2019
- Thursday 5 December 2019
Next year's dates are:
- Wednesday 15 January 2020
- Thursday 6 February 2020
- Tuesday 3 March 2020
- Wednesday 15 April 2020
- Thursday 7 May 2020
- Tuesday 2 June 2020
- Wednesday 8 July 2020
- Tuesday 8 September 2020
- Wednesday 7 October 2020
- Thursday 12 November 2020
- Tuesday 8 December 2020
These meetings will take place from 6pm to 8pm at Quaker Meeting House, 10 Saint James' Street, Sheffield, S1 2EW in the city centre (refreshments available from 5.45pm).
It would be helpful to have an idea of numbers before each evening so, if you are able, please contact us before arriving.
The Journey to Adoption
If you are thinking about adoption, this step by step guide takes you through the process, from initial enquiry to welcoming a child into your family.
An initial visit gives you the opportunity to have a more in depth discussion and to talk in private about your specific circumstances with a member of staff.
If you are eligible and decide to go ahead and register your interest in adoption you will begin stage one of the adoption process. This stage usually takes two months.
You will be asked to complete some learning and reading and we’ll invite you to our preparation training to help inform and prepare you. Your worker will help you with your learning and preparation.
During this time your worker will carry out enquiries including health and police checks. This will help us to make a decision on whether you’re able to meet an adopted child’s needs.
This is the assessment stage. It takes around 4 months to complete.
You will have regular meetings with your social worker who will prepare a report for the Adoption Panel. At the Panel a recommendation will be made about your suitability to adopt with recommendations about age range and number of children.
You will be invited to attend the adoption panel along with your social worker where they will present your prospective adopter’s report which will have been shared with you previously, and a recommendation will be made as to your suitability to adopt.
This recommendation is considered by the Agency Decision Maker who makes the final decision about your approval. Once you are approved the process of finding suitable children to match your family will begin.