If you’re thinking of adopting, the place to start is to find an adoption agency.

There are two options: 

  • many people turn to children’s services at their local authority (LA)
  • but there are many voluntary adoption agencies (VAAs) out there who can help too.

Both LAs and VAAs have trained social workers to guide you through the adoption application process. They also run information meetings, training sessions and help find the right child for you once you have been approved to adopt. In England, many local authority adoption services are merging into regional adoption agencies (RAAs), covering much larger areas. The main difference between LAs, RAAs and VAAs is that LAs have ‘their own children’. In other words, children who are in the care of that local authority.

VAAs work with LAs/RAAs to help them place their children. Some VAAs are regionally based; others are national and will help place children from all over the country. If a VAA makes a match between an adopter and a child, they are paid by the local authority to cover their costs (no profit is permitted because VAAs are charities). You can approach any adoption agency – LA, RAA or VAA - that covers your location – you don’t have to use your own local authority or the nearest agency to you.

Although you can only formally apply to adopt a child with one agency, you can contact as many as you like in the initial stages of your adoption journey. The adoption process takes some time and it is really important that you are comfortable with your chosen agency. Attending information evenings and meeting agency social workers will help give you a feel for their ethos and the way they work. It will also really help you have confidence in their judgement further down the line. Some people use the Adoption UK online forums to find out about other adopters’ experience of a particular agency.

You can search for agencies in England or Wales using the First4Adoption search tools or via the National Adoption Service website. For advice in Northern Ireland visit the Health and Social Care Services in Northern Ireland website and for Scotland see Scotland's Adoption Register.
You can also call our Helpline to find out more.

If you’re thinking of adopting, don’t go it alone! Become a member of Adoption UK and join up with thousands of other adopters and prospective adopters who can help you find out all you need to know and support you on your journey.

Join Adoption UK