Adopting a child

Adopting a child is a life-changing experience. We can help you find out about the process, whether you're in the early stages of considering adoption or have questions about your circumstances.

We are part of Adoption North London, a partnership of six local authority adoption services. Working together, we can reduce delays and offer greater choice for children and adopters.

If you're interested in adoption, we would love to hear from you. We need people in good health, who are energetic and have the motivation to stick through difficult times. We urgently need adopters for siblings, older children, children of black or mixed heritage, and children with complex medical needs.

We welcome enquiries from anyone over 21, who is a UK resident and has no criminal convictions against children. This includes single people and unmarried couples in long-term relationships.

If you’re deciding whether to adopt or are interested in learning more, visit Adoption North London to book your place at the next adoption information session.

For more information email the team or contact them on 0800 694 0101.

Intercountry adoption is where a person adopts a child from another country. The child then moves legally and permanently from their birth family to another family.

To help with this, Enfield Adoption Service offers adoption assessments, counselling and support after placement, and help with contact arrangements.

England and Wales have the same standards for all people wanting to adopt, whether intercountry or domestic. Each country overseas has its own standards and guidelines on who is eligible to adopt a child from their country.

To apply for adoption overseas through Enfield, you need to:

  • be at least 21 and live in Enfield
  • have the secure tenancy of a home big enough to care for a child as they grow
  • be in good health
  • prove you can support the child financially
  • have completed any chosen fertility treatment
  • accept our equal opportunities policy and commit to anti-discriminatory practices
  • accept that the child's welfare is the most important consideration

The process

To apply, contact us after deciding which country you would like to adopt from. You will be able to talk with an adoption social worker about the process and things you will need to consider if you want to progress your application.

If you decide this is for you, your application will be sent to IAC: The Centre for Adoption, an organisation specialising in overseas adoption that will work with you on our behalf. They will ask detailed questions about you, your life and your motivation for adopting a child abroad, including what your connections are with the chosen country. They will meet with you and take your application to the next stage. 

Direct contact

Direct contact is between adopted children and their birth parents or birth relatives and needs to be carefully thought about before making a commitment. Adoptive parents should participate to support their children.

Contact will involve spending time together in a neutral venue, supervised by a social worker or professional caretaker who will offer emotional support to everyone involved.

Adoption from birth

Once your child is born and leaves hospital, they will be placed in foster care. Indirect contact may be possible through letters and, with agreement from the court, you may be able to receive photographs or send a small gift once or twice a year. All letters and gifts are viewed by the Adoption Support Social Worker so both parties are protected.

We understand that making the decision to place your child for adoption is difficult, and so there is a delay of at least six weeks after the birth before you are asked for your agreement in writing.

After a family is found

Once a family is found, your child will leave foster care and live with their new family. They will be visited regularly and eventually an adoption order will be applied for. If the court agrees, the new family will have legal parental responsibility for your child and all legal ties with you will end.

You may continue with direct or indirect contact, if this has been agreed. As this is a very emotional time, assistance is available from us and independent agencies.

New families are encouraged to keep memories of their children’s birth family and past alive, along with their culture and religion. Once the adoption order is granted, the child's surname is changed to match the adopters’ and an adoption certificate is issued (similar to a birth certificate) with the name of the new family.

At 18, an adopted person can view their birth records. This will contain information about their life before adoption and the reasons for any decisions. Sometimes, people who have been adopted try to find their birth family. If you have been adopted and would like us to help trace your birth family you can contact us.

Independent support

As part of the North London Adoption Consortium, we work with an independent support service called Post Adoption Centre. We understand that for many birth relatives, it is important to have access to support from skilled professionals. They provide confidential counselling and support to birth parents and relatives.

For more information call 020 7284 5879. 

If your child is being considered for adoption, we can help you understand your options, rights and how our service can help, either before or after your child is born.

If Enfield Children's Social Services have taken your child to place them up for adoption against your will and you want to stop the adoption or need help keeping your child, you should speak with a legal adviser to make sure your objections are recorded and heard before a judge.

If you want help placing your child for adoption, you can meet with a social worker who will be able to answer your questions on the process for adoption and give you advice. They can also suggest ways to help you if you want to try and raise your child. For single parents, there are groups who can help.

Enfield Adoption Service supports birth and adoptive parents equally. Any enquiries are confidential and non-judgmental. You can ask for a separate social worker from your child to make sure you get all the support you need and all relevant reports on your child should be shared with you.

If you decide adoption is right for you, one of our social workers will ask a number of personal questions about your life, family and the child's father. It is important for adopted children to know as much about their birth family as possible. We also find this helps when telling the new family about the child and their background. Our social workers will also ask what type of family you would like your child to group up in, for example, culturally or religiously.

Once the decision is made for adoption, you and your child will experience many different feelings, depending on the age of the child. At this stage, you are still completely free to change your mind and raise your child yourself.

Getting in touch with adopted family members

If you are a relative who has been affected by adoption, we can offer advice and help to make contact with an adopted relative. This could include advice on registering your details on the contact register or searching public records.

If your relative is over 18, we will consider writing to the adoptive parents on your behalf. We also offer birth relatives seeking information or wishing to trace an adopted child a counselling service to prepare for the information you may receive, or for actually meeting your relative. We also offer support after you have had a reunion.

Post adoption support for adoptive families

To help adoptive families, we provide advice, guidance and counselling. We can also complete an assessment of support needs and offer workshops, training and support groups for adoptive parents, with opportunities to meet other adoptive families.

Our adoption support handbook (PDF, 366KB) is an invaluable tool to help you, or you can contact us for more support.

Support for adopted children

You may have just discovered you are adopted, or already know and have just turned 18. It is completely natural to want to know about your origins and does not always mean you are unhappy with your adoptive family. Whatever your reasons, it is always helpful to talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or relative.

If you know your birth name, you can get a copy of your original birth certificate from the general register office. This will have the name of your birth mother and possibly your birth father. You can then contact our post adoption worker or begin the search yourself.

For every adoption, there is a file that contains interviews from your birth family, social workers and your adoptive parents. It should also have information on your birth and adoption, including what decisions were made and by who.

You should find out if your birth parents or family have registered on the adoption contact register and entered their details in the hope that you will make contact. The service will let them know you are trying to reach them. For a fee, you can also register your wish for contact.

We recognise how important this information is and the effect it may have. The search for your birth family can be emotional and you will need to be prepared for all possibilities. You may feel apprehensive, scared of rejection, angry, or you may just want to confront your birth parents on the decision.

Our adoption support worker is a trained social worker who can provide counselling and give advice on who can help you further. They will help you to prepare for when you do meet your birth family.

View our children and young people’s guide to adoption support (PDF, 2MB).

If you're interested in finding out about long-term fostering as an alternative email the team or see our Fostering a child page.