Can I adopt or foster if I have a health condition?

Agencies encourage people from a wide range of backgrounds to consider adoption and fostering

Black dad and daugther holding hands
Nevertheless, adoption and fostering agencies have a duty to ensure that carers have the physical and mental health to care for the child placed with them - in the case of adoption and permanent fostering, until they reach adulthood. It is important for children who have been looked after to have a stable family life without any preventable disruption, such as an adoptive parent or foster carer becoming seriously ill.

Prospective foster carers and adopters are therefore required to have a medical examination, carried out by their GP, as part of the assessment process. Other relevant specialists may also need to be consulted, with consent.

If you have a long-term health condition, such as diabetes or asthma, or a mental health condition, such as depression, your agency will need to carefully consider these factors. It is unlikely that an agency will proceed with an applicant who is currently or has recently undergone treatment for a serious mental health problem, though they may be considered at a later stage.

People who have, in the past, experienced conditions such as mental ill-health, high blood pressure, a heart attack, an organ transplant, or are in remission after cancer, would not automatically be ruled out.

There is evidence that excessive alcohol consumption and obesity can lead to health problems, as can eating disorders, such as anorexia. Smoking not only damages the health of the smoker but also the health of others, particularly young children, who are more susceptible to the effects. Find out more about adopting or fostering if you or your partner smoke

As medical conditions affect people so differently, it is always worth discussing your situation with a fostering or adoption agency, rather than ruling yourself out. Remember to be open about your medical condition from the start, so your agency has all the facts.

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Last updated: 30 March 10

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