Help a Child Belong - Fill in the enquiry form and we’ll get in touch or call 03451 55 55 55 ext. 471074 to speak to a member of the team.

Offering a child a home for life is one of the biggest and most life-changing decisions you can make. We understand that the decision to adopt is not simple and that getting the right advice and information is very important. Fife Council’s Adoption Team are here to help answer your questions so that you are fully informed before you begin the adoption process.

Who can adopt?

We are looking for a wide range of people: single, couples in a relationship, people who have children of their own, people who rent or own their home.   You can be any gender or sexual orientation but must be over 21 years old to apply. We are looking for people with a variety of skills and experiences who can meet each child’s needs.

Adoption is a life-long decision where a child becomes part of your family, giving you the same legal rights as birth parents.  By choosing to adopt you are offering a child a stable, secure and loving permanent home.

We have no age limits and you may think you’re too old but having more life experience can be an advantage. Older adopters may consider taking on the special challenge and rewards of adopting an older child. They may have more general experience of handling difficult situations which is a benefit when parenting older children.

If you are interested in adopting with Fife Council we ask that you should have stopped smoking or vaping for the last 6 months and have a spare bedroom.

Children who need adoptive families can come from complex backgrounds while others may have experienced trauma in their life due to separation, loss, abuse, neglect or other hurtful experiences. Many of these children may also have emotional, behavioural, physical or medical needs.

There are lots of reasons why some children can’t stay with their birth families. If you are thinking about adopting a child, we encourage you to be open minded and consider a wide age range including sibling groups (brothers and sisters) and older children.

Examples of children who become eligible for adoption

Cheryl, aged 10 months, was placed in foster care at three weeks of age because her mother’s heroin addiction and inability to look after her two brothers. Cheryl had to stay in the hospital to help her withdraw from the drugs her mother was using in pregnancy. She was an unsettled, fractious baby for the first few months and, although she is responding well to care, she can sometimes cry inconsolably for no obvious reason.  She is beginning to crawl and laugh, but there are still some concerns about her general development.

Reece, 3 and his sister, Melanie, 6, have been in and out of foster care since they were babies. Their mother has mental health problems and abuses alcohol. They have witnessed violence between their mother and her partners and experienced very poor general care. They are now happy and settled with foster carers, but quickly become anxious when there are any changes to their routines. They fight a lot but don’t like being apart.

Concurrent care

There are babies who need a foster family when they are born or soon after. They may be eligible for adoption depending on individual circumstances and what the courts decide. Until the decision is made it is better for a child to remain with one caring household and not have the broken attachment if they have to move from foster care to adoption. To avoid this, we try to arrange concurrent care for these babies.

Concurrent care is where you are both a Foster Carer and an Adopter, so you can take a baby from when it is born and act as the Foster Carer for the child. You will support contact with the birth family while the court decides the child’s future. Then if the court decides the child is eligible for adoption, you will be able to adopt the baby.  By staying in the same family from the beginning of its life the child will have the continuity of care that is so important for a good start in life.

Fife Council’s Adoption Team is a small, dedicated service. We are enthusiastic, motivated and experienced social work professionals who are committed to providing families for children in Fife.

We will respond to your enquiry quickly and personally by email or telephone. We can have a chat and answer your initial questions and if you decide to go ahead, we will arrange to visit you at home and give you more details about adoption.

Whenever possible, we match Fife children with Fife adopters. This offers adopters a local, joint approach to supporting you and your child throughout your adoption journey. This can include specialist educational or therapeutic services within Fife Council.

We offer extensive ongoing training opportunities and a variety of support groups and informal get togethers. We also have workers trained in various parenting styles including Theraplay.

The Team contacts all Fife Council’s adopters on an annual basis to discuss any new support needs but are available any time adopters wish to get in touch.

Fife Council Adoption Team believe that relationships are key, and we operate a strength-based approach (concentrating on the adopter’s strengths to promote their wellbeing) to support our adopters.  In return, our adopters are very much involved in providing ongoing support to each other and we have a buddy system for any newly approved adopters.

Your Adoption Social Worker will be with you throughout the various stages of the adoption process. This will include discussing the following aspects of your life and experiences with you:

General health

The assessment process includes a full medical examination and is normally carried out by your GP and then sent to our medical adviser.  During the process your Adoption Social Worker will discuss your medical history as well as your current physical and mental health with you.


Adoption is a positive option for many people who can’t have children of their own and is sometimes considered when fertility treatment has not worked.  We understand that having fertility treatment is very stressful so if you are receiving treatment we recommend that you take your time and wait for it to be completed before applying to adopt.  Even after it’s finished it’s worthwhile giving yourself enough space to allow your emotions to settle and be sure it’s the right time for you. Applying to adopt is a lengthy and sometimes challenging process so it’s important that you feel ready.


When you apply we’ll ask you, and anyone who lives with you who is over 16, to complete a PVG form. This national checking procedure is used to confirm you have no serious offences which could stop you adopting a child.

We don’t necessarily turn down applications from people who have minor or insignificant offences, but we appreciate being told about any police convictions as soon as possible.

We do not accept applicants who have been convicted of any offence against a child.

Stages of the adoption process

Initial home visit

The visit is very informal and gives you the opportunity to find out more about adoption and whether it is right for you.  The Adoption Social Worker will explain the assessment process in more detail and discuss the information that we need to gather.  They will also talk about the needs of children who are looking for adoptive homes. Together you and the social worker will agree if you should progress to the next step which is to attend a preparation group.

To arrange the initial home visit, phone our Adoption Team Duty worker on 03451 555 555 ext 471074.

Preparation group

The three-day preparation groups take place throughout the year and are designed to give you as much information as possible. They will give you the opportunity to explore the challenges involved in adopting and to hear from foster carers and adopters. We ask that everyone attends an introductory session and all three days because it is an important part of the formal assessment process. We encourage single applicants to identify a support person to participate in the preparation group alongside them.

The three-day preparation group covers a wide range of topics including:

  • The effects of separation and loss on children
  • Physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect
  • Talking to children about adoption
  • Issues of contact with birth families
  • The legal and medical aspects of adoption
  • Contact with Social Workers and other professionals

After completing the preparation group, the next step is to arrange a pre-application visit to your home to discuss your formal application.

Pre-application visit

The pre-application visit is about discussing your reasons for wanting to adopt in more detail and the needs of the children who are looking for adoption.  Based on the topics covered in the preparation group our aim is to explore how you will provide the physical and emotional support a child or children will need.  If we mutually agree that the time is right for you to go ahead, we will give you the formal application form to complete.

The application form

We will give you an application form to fill in and consent forms to sign for the necessary checks to be carried out.   We need the names and addresses of four personal referees who are not relatives. Each referee will be asked to provide a written reference about you and at least two will also be interviewed as part of your assessment.  If you have been married or had a long relationship before, we will ask to speak to your previous partner too.  We will ask for a reference from your employer and from your GP.

Once we receive your application and complete the checks and references, we begin the home study assessment.

Home study assessment

The prospect of being assessed might seem daunting, but it gives you and your Adoption Social Worker the chance to get to know each other. It’s important to get to know you well, so we can find the best match for you and the most suitable family for every child. You will be allocated a Social Worker, or two, if you are a couple.

The home study assessment is very thorough and can take about six months. Some people can find it challenging because it involves reflecting on their past and difficult experiences.  It requires openness, trust and awareness of your own strengths and vulnerabilities.

The assessment involves a series of visits by your allocated Social Worker(s) from the Adoption Team.  These visits take place regularly over several months with gaps in between to allow space for reflection.  As part of the home study your Social Worker(s) will ask you to complete some exercises in advance of their visit as preparation.

The home study assessment covers the following areas;

  1. Family background
  2. Relationships
  3. Motivation to adopt
  4. Parenting capacity and hopes and expectations of parenting
  5. Financial assessment

If you have children of your own they will also be as fully involved in the process as possible depending on their age and understanding.  Your Social Worker(s) will need to spend time with them to explain what is proposed and will want to find out how they feel about adopting. We have found that their response can be significant to the success or failure of a placement.

Once your application and assessment has been completed your application will be put forward to Fife Council’s Adoption and Fostering Panel.


The Panel’s role is to consider all the information and make a recommendation which is then considered by a Senior Manager, as Fife Council’s decision maker.

The Panel is made up of Fife Council staff and several independent members who have a variety of relevant experience to make sure fair and appropriate decisions are made.

You will be invited to attend the meeting with your Social Worker(s).  The Panel may want to ask you or your Social Worker(s) some questions to clarify information within the assessment report. The decision to approve you as a prospective adopter is based solely on your ability to promote the welfare of a child throughout their life. The welfare of the child is always at the heart of any decision made.  If you are unsuccessful your Social Worker(s) will discuss the reasons with you and let you know about our appeals procedure should you disagree.

Once you are approved you will receive our Adoption Support Handbook and we then begin the matching process.


Once you have been approved as an adopter it’s difficult to say how long you may have to wait before a child or children are matched with you.  It depends on the needs of the children waiting for adoption at any one time.

Your Adoption Social Worker will continue to visit you regularly, discuss the support available to you, share information about any changes in personal circumstances, and when appropriate consider links with a child or children.

After your adopted child or children come to live with you, you will continue to receive support and access to a wide range of training and support groups.  There are several support groups that take place throughout the year.  These include an opportunity for children’s activities as well as offering parents the space to meet and share experiences. All our training and support groups take place locally in Fife.

It is possible to adopt a child from another country.  If you are considering this option, you will need to find out as much as possible about the adoption rules for the country from where you want to adopt. These regulations can be very complex and often change frequently.

We can help you with an overseas application by directing you to an independent assessor who will undertake the home study on behalf of Fife Council.   However, there is a charge for this service which you need to pay at start of the assessment process, regardless of whether your application is successful or not.

Further information

Call the Adoption Team Duty worker on 03451 555 555 ext 471074. This line is open 9-5pm Monday to Friday and has a voicemail out with these times or email us on

Other useful contacts:

Adoption in

This website was funded by the Scottish Government has been developed by Adoption UK in Scotland, Adoption and Fostering Alliance Scotland and Scotland’s Adoption Register

Adoption Fostering Alliance Scotland

14 Links Place

0131 322 8490

Adoption UK

Gf2 Rooms 3 and 4
Great Michael House
14 Links Place
Edinburgh EH6 7EZ

Office: 0131 202 3670, open Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm

Scottish Government

Intercountry Adoption Team
Area 2a (N)
Victoria Quay

0131 244 0722