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How to adopt a child

Our current recruitment needs

As of August 2017 our priorities will be to find families for:

  • single children of all ages
  • children with additional health and development needs
  • siblings
  • children from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

We review our recruitment needs every three months to ensure that we recruit the right adopters for our children. For further advice on adoption agencies please visit the First4Adoption website.


If you are interested in adopting, here's how to go about it.

  1. Contact us
  2. Readiness to Adopt meetings
  3. Register your interest
  4. Stage 1
  5. Stage 2
  6. After approval – matching you with a child
  7. Next steps
  8. FAQ's answered by Surrey adopters

1. Contact us

Contact the adoption service to book onto one of our Readiness to Adopt meetings.

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2. Readiness to Adopt meetings

These take place twice a month at Quadrant Court, Woking.

There will be a presentation followed by the chance to discuss your interest in adoption with a member of the team in a friendly and informal manner. If you are adopting as a couple, you will both need to come along.

What adopters say about Readiness to Adopt

"Very friendly, open discussion."

"Very useful to meet someone so early on and get as much information before making a firm decision."

"I think the social workers were very friendly and allowed us to express ourselves freely."

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3. Register your interest

You will be sent a brief summary from your Readiness to Adopt session, to check and asked if you wish to take your interest in adopting further by completing a registration of interest form. Complete this and return it to us. At this point we will also ask your permission to make some background checks to help us think about your suitability to adopt.

We will let you know within five working days of receiving your completed form whether we have accepted your interest, which allows you to start Stage 1 of the adoption process lasting two months.

The time commitment for Stages 1 and 2 is high so please think carefully about this before you start the process.

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4. Stage 1

If we accept your interest, you will begin the first part of a two-stage process, which must be completed within two months.

Stage 1 begins with a further Readiness to Adopt session at Quadrant Court. You will need to bring documents with you so we can carry out a series of checks, including Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly Criminal Records Bureau) checks.

During Stage 1 you will also need to:

  • Have a medical assessment.
  • Attend an initial half-day preparation session about life as an adoptive parent, facilitated by adoptive parents.
  • Carry out some self assessment tasks, to help you think about adoption and provide us with more information about you.
  • Attend an informal session with adopters who have experienced adopting children through Surrey.

For extra support to help you complete stage 1, you can phone our stage one co-ordinator by contacting us, and they will be pleased to offer assistance and answer any questions.

At the end of the two months, we review the information you have given us and decide whether you should go on to a second more intensive assessment and preparation stage, guided by an allocated social worker. If you would like to take a break between stages 1 and 2 that is fine, as long as you can start stage 2 within 6 months of ending stage 1.

Although we do need many families we receive a large number of enquiries, often outweighing the number of local children available for adoption. This means that at the end of stage 1 we will carefully consider which applicants to progress to stage 2 and we may choose to prioritise applicants who are most likely to offer a home to a child from our priority groups (over 4s, siblings and children with complex needs). If you are not accepted, you can ask for a review of the decision by the team manager whose decision will be final. If we aren't able to take your interest forward, the national adoption organisation First4Adoption may be able to help you look at other options such as approaching another agency which may have greater need of families.

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5. Stage 2

This involves starts with our four day preparation groups.

What adopters say about the Preparation Groups

"I was able to empathise more with the birth parents, helped with understanding of issues for when we become adopters."

"Very informative, very good to share the experience with other couples with similar journeys to this point. A good coverage of the issues, we definitely feel better informed now and supported by social services and a burgeoning network of other adopters."

You will also work with an allocated social worker who completes a prospective adopter's form, after a series of appointments with you at home and at our offices. Before the prospective adopters form is presented to our adoption panel, you can comment on and discuss any changes to it.

The panel meets fortnightly and you will be invited to attend when your application is heard. The panel can recommend that your application is approved, deferred (if it thinks there is more work to be done) or rejected. A senior manager from Surrey Children's Services then makes the final decision.

If you aren't accepted you can ask for a review of the decision within 40 days. You can chose whether your review is by the same panel or by an independent panel called the Independent Review Mechanism. As before a senior manager will decide whether or not to accept the panel recommendation.

What applicants say about the Adoption Panel

"The panel were very welcoming, put us both at ease and made this an enjoyable experience......as with all aspects of the adoption process with Surrey, very efficient."

"We were made to feel at ease. It was a positive experience, and we were delighted to have been recommended for approval."

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6. After approval – matching you with a child

There are several ways you could be matched with a child:

  • With a local child, who has an adoption plan-we will contact you to discuss the child's needs. Only once you have a full picture of the child or children and have thought about life with them as part of your family, would we ask you to commit yourself.
  • The National Adoption Register has a database of children and adopters from across the UK. If we haven't been able to match you with a child, you can ask to be added to the register or self-refer.
  • You can also attend adoption exchange meetings and adoption activity days, held by adoption agencies. At these you can see profiles and DVDs of children waiting to be adopted. You can also subscribe to specialist websites such as Adoption link and publications such as Be My Parent.
  • We have regular approved and waiting evenings, where you can chat with staff to help you find the right child for you.

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7. Next steps

Once a match is agreed, plans will be made to introduce you to the child, supported by the current carer. This usually happens over a period of time to help you and the child get to know one another before they move in.

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8. Answering your questions

Your meeting with a member of our social work team will help answer your questions, including the needs of adoptive children and the application process.

We also recommend you read our adoption case studies and visit the First4Adoption and Coram websites.

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