If you adopt you become the new, permanent parent for a child or children who can’t live with their birth parents. You can apply to adopt either as a couple or as a single person. The adoption process involves many people but once it is completed the adoptive parent(s) have full legal responsibility for the child.
Both adoption and fostering can be hugely rewarding experiences. Not only do you get to become a parent, you also get to make a real difference to a child or children who may not have had the best start in life. However, adoption or fostering is not for everyone and it can be a long and somewhat arduous process.
In the past it was sometimes difficult for LGBT people to adopt (it wasn’t until 2006 that same-sex couples could jointly apply to adopt a child) but now many adoption agencies actively target LGBT adopters. Although there are stringent procedures in place to assess prospective adoptive parents, anyone aged over 21 who can give a happy and secure long-term home to a child can apply to adopt. If you are a couple who wants to adopt you don't have to be married or civil partnered to adopt together, but you will need to prove that you are living together in an enduring relationship.
The vast majority of children who are adopted in the UK now have been through the care system. Most children are not adopted as babies. This can be an advantage, as you immediately get to connect with a little person but it also comes with its own unique challenges.
The vast majority of adoptions in Britain are organised through an adoption agency – this may be a local council or a charitable trust. Click here to check out a helpful infographic from First 4 Adoption which explains the adoption process.