Info for birth families

ARIS is the Adoption Regional Information System for Northern Ireland. This is a computer database that stores details of children waiting for adoptive families and approved adopters in Northern Ireland. The ARIS database hopes to improve the chances of children finding an adoptive family by helping social workers check for the best match throughout Northern Ireland.

How ARIS works 

For children

Adoption Agencies send details of all children who have a plan for adoption (“best interests decision”) following recommendation by the Adoption Panel. Your social worker will discuss this with you when they are talking to you about adoption as the possible plan for your child.

The social worker will also talk to your child about ARIS if they are old enough to understand adoption and the plan for them.

The consent of birth parent(s) is required if your child is accommodated (placed in care on a voluntary basis). 

Matching children with adopters

Often the Trust will be able to place your child with adopters within their own agency. If this is not the case, details about the type of family your child needs will be checked against the details of approved adopters on ARIS.

If a family is found who appear to be able to provide for your child’s needs, your child’s social worker will be given details of the adopters and will meet with them to discuss the relevant issues.

Who to talk to if you don’t agree that adoption is the best plan for your child?

In addition to your social worker, you can talk to your solicitor – the Trust will tell the Court that details of your child are being sent to ARIS if there is an active court case.

You can also discuss the plan for adoption with an independent counsellor – your social worker will recommend that you talk to someone independent and will make a referral if you wish to do so. Link to Next Step Counselling Service:

How information will be kept safe

  • Information about your child will only be sent to other Registered Adoption Agencies and only for the purpose of a possible match with a family 
  • No identifying information is stored on ARIS in respect of birth parents. 
  • Access to the database is by means of restricted passwords 
  • ARIS staff have been subject to an Access NI check and have signed Adoption Agency confidentiality agreements 
  • Any general information and statistics reported/published about ARIS will be non-identifiable