What is the difference between adopting through an independent adoption agency and a local authority?

The assessment processes undertaken by a independent adoption agency and by a local authority are governed by the same laws and guidelines and will contain the same elements. The experience of going through the assessment process will vary depending on the culture and values of the adoption agency you go through. At Jigsaw, a number of team members have been through the process themselves as we understand that it is a very demanding experience for adopters. We are therefore committed to supporting you through the process and always treating you with respect. 

When you are approved and reach the matching stage, the main difference is that a local authority tend to prefer to match you with a child looked after by itself. As an independent adoption agency, we are not tied to any local authority and can look for a suitable child all over England and Wales. 

What does it cost to adopt?

We do not charge any fees to adopters and nor will the local authorities. So costs for the adoption process will be limited to out of pocket expenses such as travel costs, the cost of a DBS check and the fee your GP will charge for a medical examination.

How long does the process take?

You can read about the process here. According to government guidelines, Stage 1 should be completed in 2 months and Stage 2 in 4 months so a total of 6 months. According to government data, local authorities meet the target of approval within 6 months is in 30% of the cases.

We will do our best to be faster than the 6 months where possible. During Stage 1, you can help too by providing information about yourself as quickly as possible. However, some elements of the process include third parties, for example DBS checks and those can sometimes take a long time.

How quickly will I be matched with a child when I am approved as an adopter?

Once you are approved, we will work with a number of local authorities to try to find a child that is suitable for you. How long this takes depends on what child you are looking to adopt and how responsive the local authorities that we contact are. In our experience, the time from approval until children moving in is around 180 days.

I rent my home. Am I able to adopt?

Yes, as long as you are able to provide space for a child in your home.

Can I adopt if I already have children?

Yes you can adopt if there is an age gap between the child/children you are adopting and the children you already have. If you have a child/children and are considering adoption, we would ask you to contact us so that we can discuss. 

I am having fertility treatment. Can I apply to adopt?

Legally you can. However, we would ask you to wait until you know the outcome of your fertility treatment before applying. The reason for this is that both fertility treatment and an adoption process are demanding to go through for you. Furthermore, our resources are limited and if you become pregnant during the adoption process, we will not be able to match you with a child for adoption and both you and Jigsaw will have put a lot of time and effort into a process that did not lead anywhere.

How long do I need to wait after fertility treatment or a miscarriage before I can adopt?

The recommendation is to wait at least 6 month in order to overcome grief and emotional upset as best as possible. We believe that you can start the process earlier than that and will consider applications from you when you think you are ready. Just keep in mind that adoption will need your complete focus, so don't rush it, but feel free to get in contact earlier than 6 months after you had an unsuccessful IVF or a miscarriage.

If I am over 40, am I too old to adopt?

No, there is no upper age limit. Many adopters are over 40. The assessment will take into account the likelihood that you will be able to parent your child to adulthood. This may mean that it is more likely that you will be approved and matched with a slightly older child but you can still adopt.

Can I adopt if I work full time?

Yes. Adoption leave is similar to maternity/paternity leave. Normally, you will be expected to take a break from work to settle your child in. It is worth bearing in mind that some children find it hard to be separated from their new parent if they have had a difficult start in life and we would recommend that you take 12 months off work if you can.

Do I need to be on a high salary to adopt?

No, you don't need to be on a high income to adopt but you need to be able to care for a child. During the process, we will review your financial situation to make sure that you can support a child.

Can smokers adopt?

In principle yes. There is nothing in regulation saying that you can not smoke. However, if you are a regular smoker, many local authorities will be very reluctant to place a child with you. We would therefore recommend that you quit smoking as part of the adoption process.

Can I adopt if I have pets?

Yes you can have pets. We may arrange a vet assessment for some pets. Also, many children have allergies which which prevent them from being matched to a family with a pet, often cats.

Can single people or couples in a same sex relationship adopt?

Yes. Single people, couples in same sex relationships, married and unmarried couples, and couples in civil partnerships can all adopt.

What support will you give me once I have adopted?

Please refer to the support section on our website.

Can I adopt a child from abroad?

Yes you can. However, at Jigsaw Adoption, we are focused on UK adoptions so we are not able to help you adopt a child from abroad. 

Can I adopt if I am unemployed?

Yes, you can adopt if you are unemployed.

Can I adopt a child from a different ethnic and/or religious background than my own?

Yes you can. According to the guidelines, children should be placed with with an adoptive families that share ethnic and religious background where possible. However, where it is hard to find a match, children should be placed with families of different backgrounds than their own.

What contact will I have with the birth parents after the adoption?

Local authorities typically expect adoptive families to maintain contact with the birth parents. Contact varies but it is likely to include indirect, annual letterbox contact with some members of the birth family. We will discuss this further with you during the process.

If brothers and sisters are placed separately for adoption, their adopters usually want to keep the link alive by meeting up occasionally.

What rights do the birth parents have after the adoption?

When the adoption order is issued by the court, the child's legal relationship with the birth parents ends and the child gets new legal parents. The effect of this is that the adopted child become a member of the adoptive family just as if it had been a birth child of the adopters. After the adoption order, the birth parents have no parental responsibility for the child.

Can I adopt if I am disabled?

Yes. We will consider your ability to parent and discuss with you any challenges to parenting that your disability would cause.

Can I adopt if I have a criminal conviction?

It depends. Most criminal convictions do not legally prevent you from adopting. If you have a criminal conviction, we would like to discuss it with you and understand it properly before starting the process. You can find out which offences legally prohibit you from adopting in the Adoption Agencies Regulations - Item 25

What is adoption?

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