It’s National Adoption week from the 18th to the 23rd October. The aim of the week is to highlight that there are nearly 3000 children waiting to be matched with an adoptive family in the UK. And also to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions around who can adopt and what your personal circumstances need to be to become an adoptive parent.
Misconceptions can become barriers to people finding out more about adoption. No-one is perfect and it’s unrealistic to think that parents always get it right. Agencies aren’t looking for a picture perfect home, lots of money in the bank or a people who’ve never fallen out with anyone in their lives. People like that don’t exist.
To be an adoptive parent, you need to be able to provide a clean, secure and loving home. Somewhere a child who has experienced early life trauma will feel safe.
So, what are the most common myths about adoption and who can apply?
You have to be in a relationship to adopt
No you don’t.
If you’re single you can most definitely adopt. The assessment process is exactly the same regardless of whether you’re single or in a relationship.
If you’re a single adopter, your support network is likely to be more important so it’s a good idea to think about that before you start. A support network doesn’t have to be physically close. We live in an age of technology, and COVID19 has shown us that with some lateral thinking, most things can be done via video call.
There are some wonderful solo adopters on Instagram who share the realities of parenting on their own. Go and say hello to @themum_thecat_thekid
You have to own your home
No you don’t.
As long as your home is clean, safe and warm and has enough bedrooms for you and the number of children you’d like to adopt, it doesn’t matter whether you own or rent your property.
You home does need to be safe in terms of affordability. If you have rent or mortgage arrears, you’ll need to sort those about before you apply because being at risk on eviction will affect your ability to adopt.
Your home needs to have enough bedrooms for each child to have one of their own. If you live in a two bedroomed property and would like to adopt a sibling group, you’ll need to think about how this can be achieved. Can you extend if you own your property? Or divide your existing bedrooms into smaller rooms?
If you rent, or it’s not feasible to create more bedrooms in a property you own, you’ll need to move. Ideally, this should be done before you start, but definitely before you go to panel.
You have to be working to adopt
No you don’t.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re working or not. In some cases, it’s a good thing that you don’t have a job because some children who are waiting to be adopted, need a lot of care. If the child you’re matched with has a lot of extra needs, it might not be feasible for you to work as well.
I’m too old to adopt.
Your age isn’t a significant factor. It’s more important that you’re fit and healthy and are able to put your time and energy into looking after your child. Your age may affect the age of child your agency will consider for you, but there’s no hard and fast rule about that.
I was almost 42 when our eldest came home aged nine months, my husband was 50. He was 55 when our youngest came home aged five and a half months. Our bodies ache a lot more than we’d like them to and we struggle a lot more with lack of sleep than we did when we were younger, but other than that, our ages have never been an issue.
You can’t adopt if you have debt.
You can, as long as it’s well managed.
Most people have some kind of debt whether it’s a credit card, car or other type of loan or mortgage. If you’re debt means you’re living way beyond your means and you’re struggling to make the minimum payments each month, it will be an issue. If that sounds like you, take some time before you apply to sort things out.
Your agency will want to make sure there’s no arrears with anything and that your outgoings don’t exceed your income. If you have concerns about this, speak to some agencies first and see what their requirements are. That will help you decide which agency to go for, and what you need to sort out first.
If you’d like to find out more about the adoption process, have a look at First4Adoption website which is full of advice and information about the process.
If you’d like to read about what the adoption process is really like from those who’ve been through it, have a look at some of articles from adopters here. The “Spotlight On” section has articles from adoption agencies sharing what they do which are a good way of seeing what different agencies have to offer.