Voluntary Adoption Agencies (VAAs) are experts in adoption. Together our members place around 1 in 4 children who are adopted across the UK.

Find your nearest VAA

VAAs are incredibly diverse. Our members are based in urban centres and rural areas. Some are very small; some are very specialised; and some find families for over 100 children per year. Some of our members are a few years old, and some have been finding families for children for over a century. There are many important things, though, that you will find in any VAA.

A warm welcome

Our members know that you may be experiencing a huge range of emotions when you first contact them. Some people choose to research adoption extensively before picking up the phone; others would rather find out how it works for themselves. Either way, VAA staff will meet you where you are. They will help you to explore your feelings, dreams and expectations in preparation for your adoption journey. It’s important to find an agency you feel comfortable with, so you may need to speak to a few to find one that feels right.

A highly personalised service

Every person is different, and there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Our members want to get to know you for who you are, and will help you to create a family that is just right for you and your child(ren). They will support you if you want to pause the approvals process, and they will always be open and realistic with you. They will make space for you to be yourself and ensure that your experience is positive, supported and honest.

An excellent standard of quality

Of CVAA’s 34 members, almost all are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ (or ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ in Scotland). VAAs are 100% committed to providing the very best service for children and families. They have pioneered some practices in adoption that have since become mainstream. VAA staff have very high job satisfaction levels and low turnover rates, and most of today’s leaders in the VAA sector have been working in adoption for decades.

Lifelong support

After adopting with a VAA, your agency will be there for you and your child(ren) for life. Our members know that adoption is a journey, and that the adoption order is just the start. There are so many VAA adopters who have said that their agency not only helped them to create their family, but also feels like family. From annual picnics and Christmas parties to specialist therapies and support services, VAAs will be there when you need them. Learn more about the support our members can offer.

You might have heard that it’s better to adopt through your local authority (LA) or regional adoption agency (RAA) because ‘they have the children’. While it’s true that only LAs are legally responsible for children in care, they also have a legal duty to find families for those children whom the courts have determined should be adopted. This means that LAs will consider adopters across the country – including VAA adopters – in order to find the right match for every child.

More myth-busting about adoption

The problem is, that perfect match for every child can be very hard to find. The majority of children who are waiting to be adopted have had a difficult start in life, and all of them have experienced separation from their birth families. Their early experiences may lead to, for example, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Many children are waiting to be adopted with their siblings and need a family who can take care of all of them together. Some children have come from specific cultural backgrounds and don’t want to lose their heritage; other have physical disabilities. Some are 5 years of age or older.

The data tells us that children with these kinds of different needs are waiting even longer to find their forever families. VAAs are local organisations who know their communities and specialise in supporting families who adopt children with different, special or complex needs.

By adopting with a VAA, you can provide a home for children who might otherwise wait years for a family, and you can be confident that you and your family will always have the support of your agency.

Early Permanence

Many CVAA members specialise in what is known as ‘early permanence’. In an early permanence placement, prospective adopters provide foster care for a child while their case is being decided, in hopes of going on to adopt them. ‘Permanence’ is a state of emotional, social and legal security, and achieving permanence for children is one of the major goals for anyone working in children’s social care.

When children who go on to be adopted live with a foster family while their case is being decided, it means that inevitably they will have to leave their foster carer(s) and move to their adoptive family’s home. For children who have already experienced the loss of their birth family and potentially other foster families, this new loss can be difficult, even traumatic. Early permanence placements avoid this by placing a child with the family who will go on to adopt them if the courts determine that adoption is in the child’s best interests.

Early permanence placements are often used for very young children and babies. In many cases, a new infant will be placed with early permanence carers directly from hospital. Early permanence carers provide love and security during the early, crucial days and weeks of development.

While most early permanence placements go on to convert to adoptive placements, it is important to remember that these are foster placements until the court makes a placement order. In most cases, this means that early permanence carers will get to know the child’s birth family during the court process, and will know the circumstances of the child’s birth and the reasons they came into care. If the child goes on to be adopted, this means their adoptive parents will have a better understanding of their background and will be able to share this information with them later on.

Early permanence is often described as a ‘child-centred’ solution to the problem of multiple moves. This means that the uncertainty sits with the adults, rather than with the child. There is always a chance that the courts will decide that a child can and should return home to their birth family; if this is the case, then you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you provided love and stability for a child at one of the most vulnerable times in their life.

If you decide to become an early permanence carer, your VAA will ensure:

  • That you receive special preparation and training
  • That you have a chance to meet other early permanence carers.
  • That you are fully supported throughout the processes of fostering and adoption, and beyond.
  • That you are able to access any allowances for which you are eligible.
  • That any contact with the child’s birth family is expertly supported and carried out in a neutral space.