The adoption process

The adoption process has several stages and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

The first stage in the fostering process is to make an initial enquiry as is symbolised by this icon of a mobile phone

Contact us

The first stage of the adoption process is for you to contact us by phone, in writing, by email or via our website to make an initial enquiry about adoption in Scotland.

The second stage in the fostering process is to receive information as is symbolised by this icon of a document

Receive information

We’ll then send you some information about adopting through us as well as an Initial Enquiry Form.

If you’re still interested in adopting, complete and return this form to us so that we can arrange for a social worker to visit you in your home.

The third stage in the fostering process is to have an intial visit as is symbolised by this icon of a house

Initial visit

During the initial visit the social worker will be able to tell you more about adoption in Scotland, the preparation and assessment process and the checks we will carry out to assess your suitability.

You should be as honest as possible with us at this point so that we can be clear with you about what the challenges will be.

You will also hear about the kinds of children who need adoptive homes and we will ask you about your motivation and expectations regarding adoption in Scotland.

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Preparation group

If we feel that you have the potential to offer a child a safe and loving home, you will be invited to attend the next available preparation group course.

Attending these groups will allow you to find out about adoption in Scotland in more detail, and do some very important thinking about making a lifetime commitment to a child.

Our job is to give you a lot of information about adoption in Scotland, including the range of children available. You have a crucial role to play at this time. You are given a chance to take a very honest look at what you want out of adoption and what you can offer a child waiting for adoption (many of whom may be very demanding). You will have time to think about all the important issues:

  • What are the needs of an adopted child?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a prospective adoptive parent?
  • Can you make the sort of commitment that will really make a difference to a child’s life?
The fifth stage in the adoption process is to complete an adoption application form as is symbolised by this icon of a pen and paper

Adoption application

Once you have completed the preparation group programme the next stage of the adoption process is for you to formally apply to be assessed as a prospective adopter.

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You will be allocated a social worker who will assess your suitability to adopt by building up a thorough profile of you.

The social worker will make several visits to your home to see you together (if you are a couple) and individually and ask you detailed questions about your own family background, your childhood and your present circumstances.

We will take up Disclosure Scotland and Local Authority checks and personal references. You will also have a full medical examination with your own GP. The home study is demanding, will address personal issues and will take several months to complete.

Because we ask families to make a life long commitment to children, the agency must be sure you are right for the role.

Just as importantly, you must be certain you can make a success of it.

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Approval panel

The homestudy report goes forward to the agency’s adoption panel.

This panel is made up of social workers, other professionals and independent people. You will attend the panel along with your social worker to answer any questions from panel members.

Once they have considered the report, the panel will recommend whether or not you should be approved as an adoptive parent.

Remember, most people who reach this stage are approved. Based on the panel’s recommendation, the agency decision maker will then decide whether or not to approve you. Normally, you will be notified of the decision within a week of the panel.

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Family finding

Once you are approved, St Andrew’s Children’s Society will begin to consider whether there are children waiting for adoption who might be a suitable match for you.

St Andrew’s Children’s Society places children with adoptive families on behalf of Local Authorities throughout the United Kingdom.

We place children who are referred directly to St Andrew’s Children’s Society by Local Authorities as well as children whose circumstances are featured in national publications available to prospective adoptive families.

Once a child or children have been identified as possibly suitable for you, you will be given full information about the child or children’s background.

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Matching panel

If you want to proceed, a Matching Panel will meet to discuss the match.

The tenth stage in the adoption process is introductions as is symbolised by this icon of 2 hands


If the Matching Panel agree it is a good match you will meet the child or children, as part of a gradual programme of introductions. 

The eleventh stage in the adoption process is moving in as is symbolised by this icon of an open door into a room

Moving in

Your adoptive child or children will come to live with you and become part of your new family. Remember, you are not on your own – St Andrew’s Children’s Society will offer you support and advice after placement, and will keep in touch with you until the adoption is finalised.

You should talk to your social worker about what adoption support services will be offered by St Andrew’s Children’s Society.

When your adoptive child has successfully settled in your family, you will be able to apply to the Sheriff Court where you live for an adoption order to be made.

You can lodge a petition to adopt a child once they have lived with you for a minimum of 13 weeks.

Once the order is made, all rights and responsibilities originally held by the birth parents transfer to you.

The twelfth stage in the adoption process is ongoing support as is symbolised by this icon of a question mark

Ongoing support

Your social worker will visit you after the adoption order has been granted and will draw up an Adoption Support Agreement with you.

This will outline what support you would like to receive from St Andrew’s Children’s Society and can be reviewed at any time in the future so that it continues to meet the needs of your family.

Peter tells us what the adoption journey was like for him and his partner.

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Take the next step now!

One of our social workers will then contact you.

Alternatively, please call us on 0131 454 3370 (if you live within 60 miles of Edinburgh) or 01224 878 158 (if you live within 60 miles of Aberdeen or Elgin) or email and we’ll send you an enquiry form to complete and return.

If you have any questions or are unsure if you can adopt or foster through us, please contact us anyway using the details above to speak with one of our social workers.

6 sets of colourful wellies in a row depicting family

The prep groups were very informative and gave a realistic view of adoption and the challenges which may be faced. During our home study our social worker also prepared us for what to expect. We felt fully supported and no question we asked felt stupid.