The Adoption Register for England is a national statutory database managed by Adoption Match on behalf of the Department for Education. The Register stores the details of children waiting to be adopted and details of approved adopters waiting to be matched with a child. Practitioners and adopters can search the database for potential matches. The database is secure and compliant with ISO27001 accreditation. The Adoption Register has been operating since 2001.
The Adoption Match team also carries out a more intensive search process considering all approved adopters with dedicated Regional Business Partners, working closely with adoption agencies.
Legal Requirements for Agencies
All children who have been approved for adoption for three months, who have no active links being pursued, must be referred to the Adoption Register for England.
All adopters who have been approved to adopt for three months or more with no active links being pursued, and who are in agreement, must be referred to the Adoption Register for England. Adopters can choose to refer to the Adoption Register for England immediately, either by self-referring or through their adoption agency.
Both children and adopters can be referred to the Adoption Register for England at any point after they have been approved. There is no requirement to wait until 3 months has passed.
The statutory obligation is that all children must be referred to the Register within 90 days of ADM. See extract from The Adoption and Children Act Register Regulations 2014:
- For regulation 19A substitute—
“19A Information to be provided for entry in Part 1 of the register
(1) Where an adoption agency—
(a)decides, in accordance with regulation 19, that a child should be placed for adoption, and
(b)has not identified particular prospective adopters with whom it is considering placing the child for adoption,
the agency must provide the information about the child listed in Schedule 1A to the Secretary of State for entry in Part 1 of the register, as defined in regulation 3(a) of the Adoption and Children Act Register Regulations 2014, as soon as possible and in any event no later than three months after that decision.
Later in the Regulations it specifically makes reference to referral to the Register when a child is still in proceedings:
97 Privacy for children involved in certain proceedings.
F1(1). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
(2)No person shall publish [F2to the public at large or any section of the public] any material which is intended, or likely, to identify—
(a)any child as being involved in any proceedings before [F3the High Court][F4 or the family court] in which any power under this Act [F5or the Adoption and Children Act 2002] may be exercised by the court with respect to that or any other child; or
(b)an address or school as being that of a child involved in any such proceedings.
(3)In any proceedings for an offence under this section it shall be a defence for the accused to prove that he did not know, and had no reason to suspect, that the published material was intended, or likely, to identify the child.
(4)The court or the [F6Lord Chancellor] may, if satisfied that the welfare of the child requires it
[F7and, in the case of the Lord Chancellor, if the Lord Chief Justice agrees] , by order dispense with the requirements of subsection (2) to such extent as may be specified in the order.
(5)For the purposes of this section—
- “publish” includes—
[F8include in a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990);]
cause to be published; and
- “material” includes any picture or representation.
(6)Any person who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence and liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.
[F9(6A)It is not a contravention of this section to—
(a)enter material in the Adoption and Children Act Register (established under section 125 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002), or
(b)permit persons to search and inspect that register pursuant to regulations made under section 128A of that Act.]
F10(7). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
F10(8). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[F11(9)The Lord Chief Justice may nominate a judicial office holder (as defined in section 109(4) of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005) to exercise his functions under subsection (4).]
‘As well as focusing on future recruitment, we must of course use adopters already in the system as effectively as possible. You will be aware of the requirement to put details of children who are suitable for adoption, but not yet placed on the Adoption Register within 3 months of the adoption decision being made, with the same applying for unmatched adopters. For your information, and in response to a question raised by a number of local authorities, I can confirm that children can be added to the Adoption Register before proceedings are concluded without breaching section 97 of the Children Act 1989.’
Minister Nadhim Zahawi, March 2018
Finding a match
We have a dedicated team of Regional Business Partners working to assist you in obtaining the best possible chance at being matched. The team can give guidance on any clarifications that need to be made to your profile and will be available to liaise with your practitioner regarding any other matching tools that we could implement to assist you in the matching process for example attending an Exchange Day or Adoption Activity Day.
Find out how the Adoption Register works and how you can use the database to search for children.
Following a pilot, we are delighted to inform you that direct access to the Adoption Register for England is now possible for all adopters.
For help and information please contact us on 0345 222 9058 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adoption Exchange Days
Adoption Exchange Days are events for approved adopters looking for children, and they feature the profiles of children who are waiting for adoptive families nationally. The Department for Education commissions 6 National Adoption Exchange Days per year from Adoption Match.
Adoption Activity Days
Adoption Activity Days are a way of adopters being more actively involved in finding children. The days are designed to be child-centred, relaxed days on which children can have fun.
The Department for Education part fund 10 Adoption Activity Days.
Self-refer to the Adoption Register
Agencies can refer adopters to the Adoption Register for England as soon as they have been approved by the agency. They usually do this if it seems unlikely that the adopters will be matched quickly with a suitable child in their own region. Agencies must refer prospective adopters (with their consent) to the Adoption Register for England three months after they have been approved if there is not a match with an identified child being actively pursued.
Adopters can decide that they do not wish to be referred to the Adoption Register for England, but this will reduce the opportunity for them to be matched with a child who is right for them.
Approved adopters can also self-refer. All you need to do is complete the self-registration form which will notify your social worker of your request to be referred to the Adoption Register for England and obtain their confirmation that you are an approved adopter.
Please contact the Adoption Match team if you are unsure whether or not you are on the Adoption Register for England.
Adopters User Guide
Download the Adopters User Guide to help you search the Adoption Register database.
Referring children and adopters to the Register
It is a legal requirement for Adoption Agencies to refer all children who have been approved for adoption within three months with no active links being pursued to the Adoption Register for England. You do not have to wait; you can choose to refer children to the Register as soon as they are approved for adoption.
See above ‘Legal Requirements for Agencies’ for further information.
Consent required before referral
Children who have the capacity to understand the purpose and functioning of the Adoption Register must give their consent to being referred to the Register. Where a child is the subject of a Care Order or Interim Care Order and the agency has parental responsibility, the agency manager entitled to exercise that parental responsibility must, after consultation with all others with parental responsibility, give consent to the child being referred to the Adoption Register. Where a child is accommodated, the birth parent holds parental responsibility must consent to the child being referred to the Adoption Register.
All adopters who have been approved to adopt for three months or more with no active links being pursued and who are in agreement must be referred to the Adoption Register for England. Once approved, adopters can refer to the Adoption Register for England immediately (self-refer or through their adoption agency).
All practitioners are able to register to directly add to and search our database of children and adopters to find the best possible matches. In addition to being able to undertake searches yourself your adopters can search the system. Our team of dedicated Regional Business Partners will continue to undertake searches on your children and families behalf and will work closely to assist you in the matching process.
Professionals User Guide
You will be sent a User Guide once you have been registered as a user to the system.