Finding forever families: How the adoption matching process works

Wednesday 29 December 2021
family on a bench.jpg

Ever wonder how the adoption process matches children with prospective adopters? Debbie, an Action for Children adoption team manager, explains how the matching process works

If you’re thinking of adoption, you may wonder how, with thousands of children waiting for adoption, you will know which child is right match for your family.

For Debbie, an adoption team manager in the West Midlands, some of the best moments in her role come when adopters become parents. She explains how Action for Children helps these milestone moments happen.

We match children with families

The first thing to know about matching is that the child comes first. The family finding process is centred around them and their needs.

Debbie explains, “It’s about finding families for children, and not the other way around. It’s not about 'choosing' a child, but finding the right family to meet that child’s needs.

“There's been a lot of research into the matching of children to families by leading universities. At Action for Children, we support the placing authorities who are following the University of East Anglia model. This model places the child at the centre of the matching and introduction phase.”

It’s about finding families for children, and not the other way around.


This means enabling children, who are already vulnerable, to meet prospective adopters in places most comfortable for them. Opportunities are arranged for the child to 'bump into' adopters, who may be introduced as friends of their foster carers. It takes away the pressure for both the child and the adopters, placing a bigger emphasis on simply getting to know each other.

Debbie adds, “We also support adopters by regularly checking in and reviewing how [the process is] going and how they’re feeling. It’s far better to withdraw at that point than move into formal introductions and then not proceed [with the adoption].”

Baby smile

Prospective adopters may have preferences around the age, ethnicity and gender of the child. It’s good to think about adoption from the perspective of what the child needs from their adoptive parents, too.

Debbie expands, “It’s really important to know that as every child is unique and so are their backgrounds. Until they get to know and trust their adopted parents, we don’t get the full story of what they’ve been through.

How does Action for Children help with matching?

When you adopt through Action for Children, you'll be supported from the very first phone call.

“What's great about our adoption service is we go beyond what’s expected. We provide families with wraparound support beyond their assessment. Every adopter approved with Action for Children will get support after their adoption order, whenever they need it."

What's great about our adoption service is we go beyond what’s expected.


As a new adopter, you'll get access to an online platform called, Link Maker. This is a central database that holds the profiles of children waiting to be adopted. 

Debbie says, “Adopters will be shown how to set themselves up on the site and can start to learn more about the children waiting.

“Through Link Maker and our relationships with local authorities, together with the support of your social worker, adopters can explore if whether they are the right family for that child."


Finding safe and happy homes

Debbie says the process of adoption takes time, but it's worth it.

“It means a child will be kept safe, secure and get a chance grow up into well-adjusted young adults. It really makes a difference in what would have happened to them, and that’s just so rewarding.”

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