Who can’t adopt?

While adoption is open to more people than you might think, there are some conditions that will automatically exclude you.


If you are aged under 21, you cannot legally adopt in the UK. If it is your dream to adopt please don’t give up; please consider coming back in a few years.


To adopt in England you must be legally resident in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and have been so for at least 12 months. UK citizens living abroad cannot adopt from the UK.

Criminal record

If you or a member or your household have a criminal conviction or caution for offences against children or for serious sexual offences you will not be able to adopt. Other criminal offences will not automatically exclude you but will be taken into consideration during the assessment process, so please be open with your adoption agency from the start.

That’s it

Those are the only automatic exclusions from adoption in England. There are many other factors that will come into consideration, but none of them automatically exclude you.

If you want to know more, read our Can I adopt? pages and our list of common misconceptions. If you have any questions or concerns, give our information line a call on 0300 222 00 22.