Northern Ireland

We provide support to adopters and prospective adopters in Northern Ireland through a dedicated office, based in Belfast. This page provides information on adoption and the kind of support we can provide for adopters in Northern Ireland.

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The second annual Adoption Barometer, provides a review of the national experiences of adopters and despite the considerable challenges, the report shows that local adopters remain positive and resilient – 83% of respondents in Northern Ireland would encourage others to consider adoption.  

Published by the charity Adoption UK, the Barometer report highlights the difficulties which families face and the importance of timely and targeted support for children who have been impacted by early trauma.  

Now in its second year, the Barometer is based on the biggest ever survey of adopters with almost 5,000 people responding. It highlights missed opportunities to intervene resulting in problems which often build into a crisis.  More than half (55%) of respondents in Northern Ireland with secondary aged children anticipate they will leave school with few or no qualifications because they lacked the right support.  78% of respondents who were prospective adopters in Northern Ireland found the process to adopt so difficult that they wondered if they could continue. 

In-focus this year is Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), with more than one-in-four adopted children in Northern Ireland (27%) either diagnosed with, or suspected to have, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).  33% of families polled in Northern Ireland had waited two years or longer for a diagnosis, and a third (33%) felt healthcare professionals lacked even basic knowledge about the condition, even though FASD is more common in the general population than autism.  

Across the UK, around three-quarters of adopted children experienced violence, abuse or neglect while living with their birth families, often with life-long impacts on their relationships, their health and their ability to learn. Despite the considerable challenges, the report shows that adopters remain positive and resilient – 83% would encourage others to consider adoption.  But failures in policy and practice and missed opportunities to intervene mean that problems often build into a crisis. Almost half (48%) of families with older children report severe challenges, such as being drawn into criminally exploitative behaviour, including child sexual exploitation and county lines activities.   

Author of the report Becky Brooks said: “It is morally and economically imperative that adoptive families are given the right support from day one. Yet nationally, 68% of new adoptive families who responded to the survey had no support plan in place. The cost to the child, the wider family and society when an adoptive family falls apart, is unacceptable.” 

The Adoption Barometer also assesses the government policies that regulate adoption. Welsh policies scored best, with three areas of policy scoring ‘good’.  Locally we are optimistic that a new ‘Adoption and Childrens Bill’ is forthcoming, which will seek to address policy and investment in adoption services, including detailed therapeutic assessments for every child before they arrive in their new family, with up to date support plans to be maintained into early adulthood.  Adoption UK welcomes this progress.  


For further information please contact:  EJ Havlin – 07963 095818 / [email protected] (Director, N.Ireland)