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Adopting a Child in the UK

This overview section lists the key rules of child adoption in the United Kingdom. Other topics include information and guidance on fostering children and the laws on surrogacy. As a rule, you must be at least 21 years old to adopt a child. Besides that, the completion of the adoption process can take up to two years before you would become adoptive parents.


These guidelines explain how to adopt a child in the UK. Find out who can adopt children and how the legal process works.

There are a number of things to consider before you apply to become an adoptive parent. This includes your own health and wellbeing.

Adopting a child requires patience and flexibility. Good health and bags of energy will certainly help towards providing a new family for a child. But, how does child adoption affect your time off work?

There is vital information for those looking to adopt a child from abroad.

Fostering a child is another topic covered in this section. There is expert advice provided about surrogacy. Find out what are the legal rights for a surrogate mother.

Note: Clicking on any of the page links will take you through to the relevant section to get further details.

Rules of Adoption UK

Adopting a Child

There are several options for child adoption in the United Kingdom. You can apply to adopt a child through the council or through a voluntary adoption agency.

Adoption Process and Records

Understanding the child adoption process is important for anyone trying to adopt. Find out the eligibility criteria, how the assessment works, and the rights of the birth parents.

As an adopted person, you may not have access to your adoption records. But, there are ways to access birth records and find birth relatives via the Adoption Contact Register.

Adoption Pay and Leave

Are you an employee taking time off to adopt a child or to have a child through a surrogacy arrangement? If so, you may qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave and get Statutory Adoption Pay.

Adopting a Child from Abroad

Learn how to adopt a child from overseas and bring them to live in United Kingdom. Check DfE fees, several key restrictions, and how to register an overseas adoption.

Note: You can use an online tool to help you plan adoption leave dates (unless you are adopting a child from abroad).


Foster a Child

Fostering a child can be a rewarding experience. You can apply to foster a child through your council in the United Kingdom.

Foster Carers

The main role of foster carers is looking after children whose parents are unable to. Even so, money and support is available for anyone interested in becoming a foster carer.

Kinship Care

Some parents can have difficulty taking care of their own children. Check out what benefits and financial support you can get if you are looking after someone else’s child.


Some couples consider surrogacy as a practical arrangement for creating a family. Check out the legal rights for surrogates and intended parents when using a surrogate or donors.

Note: Check how to become the legal parent of a child in the United Kingdom. Find out how to get a parental order using the C52 acknowledgement form.

Rules of Adoption, Fostering, and Surrogacy Laws in United Kingdom