Becoming an adoptive parent

3. Who can adopt - myth busting

There are many myths around who can and can't adopt.  Here are some of the most common myths:

Can I adopt...


If I am over 40?

We do not operate an upper age limit, but you need to be fit and healthy enough to see your adopted child safely into adult life.


If I am under 21?

The youngest age at which you can adopt is 21.


If I'm not married?

Single people can adopt a child and in some cases, this is a positive choice. However, it is important that you have a strong support network around you. Those in a long-term relationship who aren't married can also adopt, including same-gender couples.

We would usually expect that couples can demonstrate a strong and stable relationship to ensure security for the child. This would usually mean that you should have been in your relationship for at least 3 years.


If I'm currently undergoing fertility treatment?

We would expect you to have finished any infertility investigations or treatments before you can start your assessment. At the initial assessment stage, we would explore how resolved you feel about your infertility. We encourage people to take up the counselling offered by many clinics.


If I'm unemployed?

We approve people from every walk of life regardless of employment or financial status. An adoption allowance may be considered for some children who meet the criteria i.e. those with emotional or behavioural difficulties, those with a disability or children in a sibling group who need to be kept together. This is based on a financial means test.


If I work full-time?

As long as you can provide space and time to meet the child's needs. This is especially important when children are young and for all children in the early stages of an adoptive placement. We would usually expect one consistent carer available to care for pre-school children.

Statutory adoption pay and adoption leave are available for adoptive parents. You can find out more from the Directgov website

If I don't own my home?

As long as you have a secure tenancy it doesn't matter if you don't own your home. You'll need to show that you have enough room to care for a child or children, in a safe and secure environment, whether you rent or own your home.


If I'm gay or lesbian?

We are firmly committed to ensuring that no one is discriminated against because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or disability. 

The New Family Social website is a great resource for Bucks LGBT adopters. We recommend taking a look at what support they offer, from social meet ups to online forums. You may have seen our information sessions advertised on their social media pages as we are a member agency.  If you choose to be assessed as a prospective adopter through us you will get free membership to New Family Social.


If I have a disability and/or a health problem?

Everyone who applies to adopt will need a health assessment as part of the approval process to make sure that they are able to care for a child. If you are disabled or have a medical condition these factors are taken into consideration and recommendations made on your suitability.

We need to ensure that a child will not experience further loss so you will be asked to show you have a healthy lifestyle.


If I smoke?

Yes - but it is unlikely you will be selected for a baby, very young child or a child with a medical condition e.g. asthma. You would be asked to consider your long-term health and associated health risks.


If I have a criminal conviction?

You will not be considered as a prospective adopter if you or another adult in your household has been convicted of a "specified offence". These are predominantly offences against children. If you have convictions or cautions for any offences, tell us and we will advise you whether they will prevent an application.


If I already have children of my own?

Yes - your own children would be included in the approval process too.

In adoption, we usually advise a minimum age gap of two years between any birth children and an adopted child. Your child would need to be at least 3 years old as most children available for adoption are toddler age and upwards. Although for some children, a wider age gap would be needed and there may be additional risks with the adoption.


If I don't live in Buckinghamshire?

Sometimes it is in the best interests of the child to be placed outside of our immediate area and therefore we will consider people applying from outside our county if we feel they will be able to meet the needs of our children.

We may also redirect you to your local adoption service if that is more appropriate.


If I don't live in the UK?

You must have lived in the UK for at least one year before applying to adopt a British child, or one of you must be a resident of the UK. 


Interested in exploring adoption further? 

Come along to one of our information evenings and then have a chat with a social worker.  If you would like to speak to someone before coming to one of our information evenings, please call 01494 586 349 or email



Adoption information pack

Privacy notice

Print entire guide

Last updated: 28 May 2021

Was this page helpful?

Very poor
Neither good nor poor
Very good