Adopt in United Kingdom

In the UK same-sex couples can adopt together or adopt the spouse’s child.
Adoption by same-sex couples has been possible in England and Wales since 2005, in Scotland since 2009 and in Northern Ireland since 2013.
Since 2009, lesbian couples can access assisted reproduction techniques, both mothers being recognized on the birth certificate.
Gay couples can ask for parental orders in surrogacy arrangements since 2010.

Child adoption

1. Overview

To be adopted, a child must:

  • be under the age of 18 when the adoption application is made
  • not be (or have never been) married or in a civil partnership

The child’s birth parents

Both birth parents normally have to agree (consent) to the adoption, unless:

  • they can’t be found
  • they’re incapable of giving consent, eg due to a mental disability
  • the child would be put at risk if they weren’t adopted

Who can adopt a child

You may be able to adopt a child if you’re aged 21 or over (there’s no upper age limit) and either:

  • single
  • married
  • in a civil partnership
  • an unmarried couple (same sex and opposite sex)
  • the partner of the child’s parent

There are different rules for private adoptions and adoptions of looked-after children.”

Read more about adoption in Scotland.

Read more about adoption in Northern Ireland.