The adoption process

This page goes through the adoption process and the steps that are taken in order to achieve adoption.

Simply click on each of the tabs below to show the various steps.

Step 1

Decided that you would like to proceed and find out more about adopting through St Margaret's?

If so then the first step would be to contact our office and ask to speak to the Duty Worker who will take your details and answer an initial questions you may have.

Step 2

After you have made your initial enquiry, a worker will visit you at home. They will speak to you more about adoption, the process and what you can expect from St Margarets.

They will also find out a bit more about yourselves, your wish to adopt and give you a chance to ask any questions you may have.

We understand how important, exciting and also nerve wracking your initial enquiry can be. We therefore aim to arrange your initial visit within two weeks of your initial enquiry.

 “Initially we were both nervous and apprehensive about the journey ahead but after the initial visit we were impressed with the information and knowledge and it put us at ease”

Step 3

If, after your initial visit, you decide that you wish to proceed with an application to adopt, the next stage would be to attend our preparation groups.

Step 4

After you have completed the preparation groups you will be allocated one of our Social Workers to complete your Home Study Assessment.

We understand that, after prep groups, people are keen to get started. We therefore aim to allocate you a worker within two weeks of the groups ending. Everyone is individual. Each assessment will therefore be different and will have different issues to be covered. We therefore cannot give any guarantee as to how long your assessment will take, however, typically this should take around 6 months.

During the assessment your worker will spend time with you, both individually and as a couple (where applicable). This will give them a chance to really get to know about you, your life and what you have to offer.
It will also give you a chance to really think through your wish to adopt and begin to consider the children you could consider caring for. For example, Could you consider a sibling group?

Could you consider a child affected by disability or by parental substance misuse?

What if the plan is for a child to have continued contact with their birth parents?

Throughout your assessment your worker will help you to think through the many questions that are likely to arise as you go through the adoption process.

As well as meeting with yourself, we will undertake a range of additional checks including:

  • Enhanced Disclosure checks.
  • Personal references.
  • A reference from your current employer.
  • If you have ever worked or volunteered with children or vulnerable adults we will also seek a reference.
  • A Medical Assessment completed by your GP.

By the end of your assessment, your worker will make a recommendation as to whether you should be approved as Prospective Adoptive parents. This recommendation will include the number and ages of children for which you should be approved.

Although people can initially find the thought of undertaking their assessment quite daunting, feedback regarding their experience of the process tends to be very positive.

“When you hear what you are asked for it sounds really daunting but we found it quite easy as it was done in different situations and visits. We never felt like it was intrusive and it was easy telling our life story”.
“I’ve found the assessment period more enjoyable than I anticipated. In part I think this was due to our workers manner but I agree with another adopter who said it was a bit like therapy (from someone who normally dislikes talking about themselves). I don’t know if it’s the personal reflection side of things but strangely I’ve found I probably like myself a bit more than I did before!”
“Our assessment has been very informative, interesting and sometimes emotional. Our worker has done an excellent job of explaining everything to us throughout the process”.
“The timescales between our initial phone call to St Margaret's and actually meeting our son was a mere 11 months. It felt like no time at all.

The assessment was progressed at a good pace, plenty of time given to complete the home study, yet, it only took 6 months. This time is critical in examining yourself and preparing yourself for taking on a child/children. St Margaret's are very helpful in providing all the support necessary”.

Step 5

Once your Home Study assessment is completed your case will be presented to our Adoption Panel.

Our Adoption Panel consists of volunteers, all of whom have an interest in adoption and the work of St Margaret’s. The panel members bring a range of different experiences, some are teachers, some are psychologists, some are adoptive parents and some are adopted themselves. Your Social Worker and the Principal Officer will attend the Panel along with you.

The panel will state whether they agree with the recommendation of your report. You will be advised of the outcome of the panel on the same night.

The recommendation is then approved by our Agency Decision Maker. At this point you will formally be registered as Approved Adopters. Your approval will also state the number and ages of children you wish to be considered for.

It is from this stage that we will begin to look for the right children for your family. At St Margaret’s we place children from Local Authorities throughout the UK.

Step 6

Here at St Margaret’s we recognise the importance of on-going support at each and every step in your adoption journey. We take pride in the support network that is available in our organisation, both from the staff team, in the social events that we organise and from the other adoptive parents.

We offer a range of supports at different stages, whether this be the opportunity to speak with other adoptive parents at the initial stage of your assessment, the opportunity to attend different training events, to meet other adoptive families at our peer support group or to attend our annual gathering.

While formal support will be offered for one year after your child is legally adopted, you will continue to be invited to our annual events, something that adopters find invaluable in helping their child to understand that there are many adopted children.

We very much have an open door policy at St Margarets and are always happy to offer support at a later time where this is needed. Examples are perhaps when children start school and find the transition difficult. Or when children grow older and begin to ask questions about their birth family or wish to access their records.

Regardless of the issue or how along ago your child was adopted, we are always happy to hear from you.

We pride ourselves on the support services that we provide and would encourage you to find out more by visiting our Support and Training Section. Link

St Margaret's provide every level of support. From organising social outings and occasions where you can meet other adoptive families, right the way to formal training sessions with highly experienced speakers”.


“Working with St Margaret's has been a wonderful experience. They prepare you completely for adoption, giving you the realistic side of what you are taking on, but balance everything in a very positive way. You know that things can be tough, however, the staff at St Margaret's always remind you of how much this will be worth it.”

St Margaret's Client