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.