What is adoption?
Adoption is a legal process, which makes a child a permanent member of your family.
With a child is adopted, an Adoption Order approved by a court transfers all the rights and responsibilities of the child's parents to the adoptive parents permanently.
This is quite different to fostering, where the responsibility for the care of the child is shared between the foster parents and social services and is usually for a fixed period of time.
Is adoption for you?
Adoption is a lifetime commitment to parenting someone else's child. You have to be completely sure that adoption is what you really want for you and your family.
Many people find adoption a challenging and fulfilling experience. The rewards of becoming a parent, and knowing that you have given a child the opportunity of being part of a real and caring family, are among the best life can offer.
On the other hand there can be difficulties. Many children waiting for adoption feel that adults have always let them down. It could take a while before they learn to trust and love you.
Helping maintain contact
Even though the child will be part of your family, you will need to help the child understand their birth family's background.
This could include helping maintain an agreed level of contact with the birth family, for example an annual letter or meeting, depending on the particular circumstances of the child. In other situations, you may need to help the child trace their birth family when they are older.
Finally, it is important your relatives accept an adopted child as part of their extended family.
Will I be told everything about a child who comes to stay with me?
You will not be asked to look after a child without first being given all available information about that child's history and behaviour. You will have every opportunity to discuss any doubts you have with your fostering social worker and with the child's social worker.
The final decision whether or not to look after any child lies with you.