The first step is to contact an adoption agency which is part of the local council or a voluntary adoption agency to find out about their particular adoption process. The agency will meet the prospective adoptive parent/s and this will then lead on to the formal adoption application.
Once a formal adoption application has been received by an agency, it will normally invite the prospective adoptive parent/s to a series of classes which aim to provide advice about the effect of adoption.
The next step is a series of visits by a social worker who will assess the suitability of the adoptive parent/s, followed by a police check.
Three referees will then need to provide personal references (only one of whom can be a relative) and finally a full medical examination will need to be undergone.
The assessment will be sent to an independent adoption panel. They may ask further questions before submitting a recommendation to the agency which will then make a decision on the suitability of the adoptive parent(s).
If the agency approves the adoption, the adoptive parent/s will be referred to the Adoption Register for England, National Adoption Service for Wales or Scotland's Adoption Register.
If the agency refuses the application, prospective adoptive parent/s can challenge them in writing or apply to the Independent Review Mechanism, for England and Wales, or the Care Inspectorate, for Scotland. Or they can apply again to a different agency.
The overall approval process normally takes about six to eight months.