Who can adopt?

We welcome applications from a range of people and we approve adopters from a variety of backgrounds every year. However, we do have some minimum requirements that you will need to meet to adopt with us, so please read through this section before starting your enquiry.

Who can adopt?

The Brighton & Hove adoption team welcome applications from people who are:

  • single
  • married or living together
  • gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or heterosexual
  • employed or unemployed
  • aged over 21
  • parents or those without children
  • homeowners or renting

You cannot adopt if you:

  • do not have space in your life for a child
  • have a criminal conviction against a child

It is important that adopters can offer a safe, stable and loving home for their child. There are some issues that we need to discuss with you before we start the assessment process:


Adopters will need to provide support for their child from childhood through to young adulthood. You will need to have a medical examination before we approve you as an adopter. If there is a risk that you won’t be able to look after a child, then our medical advisor may discuss these issues with you.


You will not be excluded from adoption if you smoke. However, given the known medical risks of passive smoking on young children, we would talk about this with you. We will not place a child under the age of five or a child with disabilities in a smoking household.


If you are looking into or receiving treatment relating to fertility, we recommend that this has reached a conclusion before applying to adopt with us. We also recommend that you are emotionally ready to move on to adoption, as both processes can be stressful and you will need to dedicate your time and energy to the adoption process.


If you are disabled, we will need to talk about this with you to see what support you may need to care for an adopted child.


We will need to talk about finances at an early stage to make sure you can manage the responsibility of raising a child. There are no financial restrictions and you may be receiving benefits. Financial assistance may be paid to help with the costs of raising a sibling group, a child with special needs or in special cases where adoption would otherwise not be practical for a child.

Criminal Offences

We are required by law to talk to applicants about any criminal record and whether this raises concerns about their suitability to be a parent through adoption. You will need to have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (formerly a Criminal Records Bureau check) and a Child Protection Record (CPR) check. DBS checks will record all past convictions, cautions and bindovers and no convictions are regarded as “spent” for the purpose of adoption.

You will not be automatically excluded if you have a past conviction, although we will need to talk about the circumstances at the time and any implications for the future. We would only consider someone with a violent conviction in exceptional circumstances.

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Skills and Qualities

Most people have the capacity to be parents and we have no blueprint for the ideal parent. Like other parents, adopters will learn a lot about parenting and children "on the job". Understanding what your experiences have been, and what you have learned from them, helps us understand what you will bring to adoptive parenthood.

We will discuss your support network with you – family, friends and other community links – to help us understand who will be there for you and what your child’s network will be. If you are a couple, we will discuss your relationship with you to make sure that you can cope with difficulties and will support each other as parents. If you are applying as a single parent it is particularly important that you have a good support network, so you can share your experiences - good and bad - with others.

It would be helpful if you have experience of caring for or working with children of different ages and abilities. If you don’t have much experience we strongly advise that you spend some time with children on a regular basis. For example, you could baby-sit for friends or volunteer at a local playgroup.

Adopters need to understand their child’s history and birth family. Their story is likely to be painful and you will need to accept that your child may feel loss, sadness, confusion and anger at times. Understanding how you have coped with sadness, difficulties or stress in your life tells us how you might cope with a child who has similar feelings.

You may have the opportunity to meet your child’s birth parents. Some children have direct contact with birth parents, siblings or other relatives after adoption. Most adopters are asked to write to their child’s birth parents (going through our adoption team) from time to time to let them know how their child is progressing.

We expect adopters to value their child’s ethnic, religious and cultural background.  Adopters who value difference will find it easier to accept their child’s background and promote a positive sense of identity. We may not be able to find a child for you if your hopes and expectations do not fit with the children available.

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