A Complete Guide to Same Sex Adoption Laws in the UK

Same sex adoption, also known as gay adoption, is common in the UK.

Whilst it is common now, it was made law in 2005 to allow adoption orders to be granted to unmarried couples including same sex couples. 

Adoption can be a confusing endeavour for couples to take, especially if you’re in a same-sex relationship.

In this article, we will give you a guide on same sex adoption so you know what to look out for and know the best methods to use when going through the adoption process. 

Understanding Same-Sex Adoption Laws in the UK

adopted baby with same sex parents

In the UK, same-sex adoption laws are governed by the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which allows both same-sex couples and individuals to adopt children.

This Act amended previous legislation to remove any discrimination based on sexual orientation in the adoption process.

According to the Department for Education, 1 in 5 adoptions in England in 2023 were by same-sex couples. 

Here are some key points regarding same-sex adoption laws in the UK:


Same-sex couples and individuals are eligible to adopt in the UK, provided they meet the same criteria as heterosexual couples and individuals. 

This includes factors such as: 

  • Being over 21 years old. 
  • Having the ability to provide a stable and loving home for a child.
  • Passing the necessary background checks and assessments.

Legal Recognition

Same-sex couples who adopt a child have the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples who adopt. 

This includes parental responsibility for the child and the ability to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, education, and medical care.

Equal Treatment

Adoption agencies in the UK are required by law to treat everyone equally, regardless of sexual orientation. 

This means that same-sex couples and individuals cannot be discriminated against in the adoption process.

Civil Partnership and Marriage 

Same-sex couples who are in a civil partnership or marriage have the same rights to adopt as heterosexual married couples. 

This legal recognition provides additional security and stability for the family unit.

Parental Leave and Benefits

Same-sex couples who adopt a child are entitled to the same parental leave and benefits as heterosexual couples. 

This includes paid and unpaid leave for the purpose of bonding with the child, as well as eligibility for financial support such as child benefits.


While same-sex adoption is legally permitted in the UK, some same-sex couples may still face challenges or discrimination from individuals or institutions during the adoption process. 

However, there are legal protections in place to address any instances of discrimination or unfair treatment.

Preparing for Adoption

same sex parents

You should research different adoption agencies to find one that aligns with your values, preferences, and needs. 

This may involve considering factors such as the agency’s reputation, track record, services offered, and any specific expertise they have in working with same-sex couples or individuals.

It’s also important to explore support networks for adoptive families, including local and online communities, support groups, and counselling services. 

These resources can provide valuable guidance, advice, and emotional support throughout the adoption journey.

Understanding the eligibility criteria and requirements set forth by adoption agencies and relevant laws is crucial. 

This typically includes factors such as age, marital status, financial stability, health, and suitability of the home environment.

You should carefully review these criteria to determine if they meet the requirements and, if not, identify any steps they need to take to become eligible. 

This may involve addressing any potential barriers, such as improving financial stability or completing necessary training or assessments.

Choosing the Right Adoption Agency

female couple with adopted baby

For same sex couples, choosing an adoption agency that is openly supportive and inclusive is crucial. 

Such agencies have experience working with diverse families and understand the unique needs and challenges faced by same sex couples.

They should have policies and practices in place to prevent discrimination and ensure equal treatment throughout the adoption process.

Working with a same sex supportive agency can help alleviate concerns about potential discrimination or bias and provide a more positive and affirming experience for you and your partner.

Here are some tips for choosing the right adoption agency:

  • Research – Start by researching adoption agencies in your area or those that specialise in same-sex adoptions. Look for agencies that explicitly state their commitment to serving LGBTQ+ families.
  • Credentials and Accreditation – Ensure that the agency is licensed, accredited, and follows all legal regulations pertaining to adoption.
  • Experience with LGBTQ+ Families – Look for agencies with a track record of successfully placing children with same-sex couples. They should have experience working with LGBTQ+ families and understanding the unique challenges they may face during the adoption process.
  • Supportive and Inclusive Policies – Investigate the agency’s policies and practices regarding LGBTQ+ inclusivity. 
  • References and Reviews – Seek out reviews and testimonials from other same-sex couples who have adopted through the agency. Personal recommendations can provide valuable insights into the agency’s reputation and the quality of its services.
  • Communication and Transparency – Choose an agency that maintains open and transparent communication throughout the adoption process. They should be responsive to your questions and concerns, providing clear information about timelines, fees, and requirements.
  • Support Services – Look for agencies that offer comprehensive support services for adoptive parents, including counselling, education, and post-adoption support. 

The Adoption Process in The UK

adoption for same sex couples

It’s important to note that adoption laws and procedures may vary slightly between different parts of the UK.

In the UK, the adoption process is governed by law and overseen by adoption agencies, both public and voluntary. 

Here’s a general overview of the adoption process in the UK:

Step 1 – Initial Inquiry

The process typically begins with an initial inquiry to an adoption agency. This can be done online, by phone, or in person. 

During this stage, you may receive information about the adoption process, eligibility criteria, and next steps.

Step 2 – Preparation and Assessment

If you decide to proceed with adoption, you will undergo a thorough assessment process. This includes background checks, medical assessments, and interviews with social workers. 

The purpose of this assessment is to determine your suitability to adopt and to gather information about your preferences and circumstances.

Step 3 – Preparation Course

Many adoption agencies require you to attend a preparation course or training sessions. 

These courses provide information about adoption, parenting skills, and the needs of adopted children. 

They also offer an opportunity for you to meet other prospective adopters and share experiences.

Step 4 – Matching Process

Once your assessment is complete and you are approved to adopt, the agency will begin the process of matching you with a child. 

This involves considering factors such as the needs and preferences of the child, your own preferences, and the suitability of the match.

Step 5 – Placement and Adoption Order

If a suitable match is found, the child will be placed with you on a trial basis. 

This period allows both parties to get to know each other and ensure that the placement is successful.

If everything goes well, you can apply for an Adoption Order through the courts, which legally finalises the adoption.

Step 6 – Post-Adoption Support

After the adoption is finalised, you will continue to receive support from the adoption agency. This may include counselling, advice, and access to support groups. 

Post-adoption support is essential for helping families adjust to their new circumstances and address any challenges that may arise.

Same Sex Adoption – Brown Turner Ross

The adoption process can be a long and arduous task but a necessary one that must be pursued should you wish to adopt in the UK.

At Brown Turner Ross we have helped many same sex couples navigate the dynamic field of adoption law.

We offer our support and knowledge so you can experience a smooth adoption process.

If you’re in a same sex relationship and wish to know more about adoption then please contact us.

Southport Solicitors

Tel: 0170-454 2002

Fax: 0170-454 3144

11 St George's Place

Lord Street



Liverpool Solicitors

Tel: 0151-236 2233

Fax: 0170-454 3144

The Cotton Exchange Building

Bixteth Street


L3 9LQ