The process known as “Fostering for adoption” was designed to help more children live with foster carers who could become their adoptive family as soon as possible after leaving their birth family and so avoiding them being moved from carer to carer too often.

Fostering for adoption applies to England only although in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, placements may also start on a fostering basis.

Fostering for adoption usually involves the following circumstances:

  • the child has been removed from their birth family but the court hasn’t yet decided whether they should go back home, live with family members or be adopted.
  • the local authority wants to minimise the number of potential moves for this child and does not support the child returning to their birth family.
  • the local authority is willing to assess approved adopters as temporary foster carers for this specific child and this decision is made by the local authority decision maker, or the local authority or approving adoption agency are able to agree “dual approval” as a prospective adopter and a foster carer.
  • the family will care for the child while the local authority and birth family retain joint parental responsibility. They will receive a foster allowance. They would expect to have limited, if any, contact with the birth family.
  • the family caring for the child is willing to accept the uncertainty of the placement i.e. that the court may decide that the child should be returned to their birth family, knowing that it is better for the child to have a secure placement where attachments can start to develop from an earlier age and to avoid unnecessary moves.

If the court later decides that the child should be adopted the adoption agency will then approve the “match” between these carers as adopters and the child and the placement becomes an adoption placement.

If you are considering this route to adoption, there are many things you need to take into account. These are explored in this leaflet.


Why not also read about concurrent planning, which is another way to foster a young child whom you may be able to adopt later.

Alternatively find out how to become an adopter or a foster carer.