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Adoption by foster carers


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Adoption by foster carers has always been possible and recent years have seen a small increase in the numbers of children being adopted in this way. However, this is an area of practice that has attracted controversy and divergent views prevail. This Good Practice Guide explores some of the issues behind the contradictory views. It challenges practitioners to reflect on the “practice wisdom” that has previously steered practice in this area and invites them to adopt a more open-minded and child-centred approach.

Adoption by foster carers addresses several questions: Do children adopted by their foster carers experience more stable placements? What are the factors that facilitate adoption by foster carers and what are the barriers? How can foster carer adopters be supported? How should they be prepared and assessed? And what about the “matching” process – to what extent does it apply if the child is already living with the carers?

Adoption by foster carers makes a powerful case for considering foster carers adopting children in their care as a resource that can offer stability and permanence, supported by research evidence and the experiences of agencies, practitioners and carer adopters.

Who is this book for?

Frontline workers and managers who are looking to explore and expand the range of placement options for children.

What will you find in this book?

Taking a practical approach, the guide considers:

  • the legislative framework and research findings around foster carers adopting;
  • how to prepare and assess foster carers to adopt;
  • the matching process for children already in placement;
  • effective adoption support for carer adopters;
  • contact issues;
  • whether a carer adopter should continue to foster

It explores the benefits and challenges of foster carers adopting – for the carers, the children and the agencies involved – and illustrates these with case studies and firsthand accounts from foster carers who have adopted. The appendices contain forms and checklists that practitioners will find useful.


Elaine Dibben is an Adoption Development Consultant for CoramBAAF. Viv Howorth has 30 years’ social work experience. She currently works part-time as an adoption social worker, independent trainer and chair of adoption and fostering panels.



This is a comprehensive and coherent guidebook, which, in itself, makes it a highly useful resource for social workers and managers in the field...Dibben and Howorth do real justice to this topic and have created a highly valuable and useful tool that actively supports good practice. Further, their work comes across as a piece of advocacy, with vulnerable children clearly in mind and a focus throughout.

Jessica Spenceley, Independent Social Worker, Seen and Heard 26:3