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Domestic adoption

Prospective adopters must first contact a registered adoption agency (which includes local authority social work departments). Following an in-depth assessment, including medical, police and financial checks, an application to adopt is then sent to an adoption panel. This considers the prospective adopters suitability, including whether there are suitable children to be adopted. The panel makes a recommendation to the adoption agency, who make a final decision on whether to proceed.

The process of assessing the suitability of prospective adopters can take many months, and matching them to a suitable child can take up to a year. Once a child is placed with a family, adoption agency staff monitor the placement. Only when they and the Court are satisfied that the placement is successful - and the child has resided with the adopters for at least 13 weeks - will the court issue an adoption order, transferring legal guardianship to the new parents.

For further information on adopting a child in Scotland, please contact your local authority social work department or voluntary adoption agency.

How we're improving the adoption process

We have an on-going commitment to improve the procedures, services and support around adoption and permanence. Since the Adoption Policy Review Group was established in 2001, we have passed legislation and guidance to ensure Scotland has a modern, child-centred system that responds to the changing needs of children and prospective adopters.

From April 2011 Scotland's first Adoption Register has been in operation, designed to speed up and increase the number of adoptions.

  • Find out more about Scotland's Adoption Register
  • The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 placed Scotland’s Adoption Register on a statutory footing enabling the creation of The Scotland’s Adoption Register Regulations 2016 which set out the key requirements for supplying, retaining and disclosing information.
  • This also means that from 1 April 2016,  all adoption agencies in Scotland will use Scotland’s Adoption Register to refer both children and adopters within 3 months of approval – further reducing the delays in children being matched with adoptive families and finding permanent homes.