Your adoption journey begins from the very moment you first start thinking about adoption as a possibility for you. Getting the correct partner to accompany you down the adoption path is vital. Choosing the right adoption agency for you is the first important step on your adoption journey. Here at Being Family we want to help provide you with all the information you need to make the best and most informed decision for your unique situation.
Choosing an Adoption Agency is part of the process that is down to you. That’s not to say that you’re alone in doing it, it’s just that which agency you feel is right for you, is very much your decision. You can choose between a Local Authority or a Voluntary Adoption Agency. We would encourage you to do as much research as possible and maybe even speak to a number of agencies to understand their different processes and procedures.
Each agency will be happy to send you an information pack, or have an informal chat to answer any of your questions. Find out more about the different Yorkshire and Humber adoption agencies here. The Being Family adoption agencies run information events throughout the year where you can find some more information out face-to-face and speak to some adopters about their experiences. Check out when the next information is near you here
Once you have gathered all the information on the agencies relevant to you, make sure you give yourself time to review it and talk with friends and family about your options. Once you have completed this exploration process you will need to make a decision about if you would like to proceed to stage one and if so with which agency you would like to do this with.
If you decide to take the next step you will need to make a formal application.
Once you have made the decision that you are ready to offically start on your path to adoption and you have chosen the agency you wish to make this journey with, it is time to complete an official registration of interest form.
If it would be helpful, you may wish to ask for an informal meeting with a social worker before you complete your Registration of Interest. This is a good opportunity to get a feel of how it will work for you and talk about any particular issues or concerns you may have before you get too far into the process. You need to give this as much time as you need.
The information you will be asked for in the Registration of Interest includes:
This stage is designed to be complete within 2 months and includes initial training and preparation. You may be invited to attend an initial preparation course and will be asked to complete a number of exercises to help you be sure that this is the right step for you. This stage will help you to understand a lot more about the experiences many of the children who need adoptive families have had, what impact they may have had on them and how being an adoptive parent can be so different from being a birth parent.
While you are exploring more about the children and what it means to be an adoptive parent as distinct from a parenting a birth child, your adoption agency will need to carry of a series of check and references. These will include:
At the end of stage 1, you and your social worker will evaluate your learning and you will have an opportunity to confirm that you wish to be formally assessed and you will move on to Stage 2.
Stage 2, the training and assessment part of the adoption process, has two functions: to give you the information and support to develop the skills you will need to be an adoptive parent: to confirm that you are the right kind of person to adopt and highlight your strengths and any areas where you may need support.
You will be invited to attend a preparation group with other prospective adopters, which will help you explore the benefits and challenges of adoption. You will also have the opportunity to meet experienced adopters and talk to them about the realities of adoptive family life. As well as key parenting skills, the preparation groups cover the special skills adoptive parents need to care for children who may have experienced neglect and abuse. The aim is to give you the skills you will need in the future.
The main part of the assessment is a series of meetings between you and a social worker from your adoption agency. Some of these will take place at your home. During this time the social worker gets to know you and your family and spends time helping you think about what strengths you could bring to adoptive parenting.
Your social worker will need to talk with you, and your partner if applicable, about your childhood and your experiences of growing up. He or she will ask you about how you have dealt with past experiences, how you feel about your family and what sort of parents you want to be. Your capacity to reflect on your own past experiences will be important in the future as you help your children reflect on things that have happened in their early years.
If you have children, your social worker will also want to meet them as well as any other people who live with you – perhaps an older relative. He or she may want to meet with some of your wider friends and family. The assessment process usually takes about 4 months and it is designed to help the agency get a rounded picture of you and your family and for you to be as prepared as possible for a child to join you .
Your social worker will be the one representing you throughout the whole process!
Your Adoption Agency may well want to contact previous partners, especially if there have been children from that relationship, and any adult children you or your partner might have. While this might seem intimidating remember that, like the whole adoption process, this is done with the best interests of the children in mind. Former partners do not have any veto over your right to adopt, but your social worker may want to discuss with you why your relationship ended and what you learnt from it. If contact with a previous partner is likely to put you or anyone else in danger, this can be discussed with your social worker.
Remember, the whole process is focused on finding the right homes for the children in care, so understanding the kinds of children you could support is very important. The agency is trying to establish that you, and if relevant, your partner have the resilience and emotional maturity to be a good parent(s), and that you have a good support network around you in friends and family.
Once the assessment process is complete the social worker will gather all of the information together and prepare a Prospective Adopters Report. This is the report which is taken to the agency’s Independent Adoption Panel. You will see a copy of this and will have at least ten working days to comment on this before it goes to panel.
Your adoption agency has an Adoption Panel which will consider the information prepared by your social worker. You will be invited to attend part of the panel meeting and are encouraged to do so. However you don’t have to, and whether you attend or not will not affect the panel’s recommendation
The adoption panel is made up of adoption experts and experienced adopters and is independent of the adoption agency. It is their job to make a judgment about your suitability to be an adoptive parent and it will make a recommendation to your Adoption agency. You will be told what the recommendation is on the day of the panel.
The panel will send its recommendation to your adoption agency’s decision maker, who is a senior manager of the local authority or the voluntary organisation. He or she has the legal responsibility to make a decision about whether you are suitable to adopt. In most circumstances the agency’s decision maker accepts the adoption panel’s recommendation.
If there are likely to be difficulties you will know about them well before you get to the adoption panel. In the unlikely event that the Agency Decision Maker does not approve you as suitable, you can ask for your application to be considered by another Adoption Panel. Your adoption agency will give you information about how this works.
“Panel was not half as scary as you think. Every one there was incredibly supportive and we got the feeling they knew our case really well. By giving all the detail early on meant the whole panel process was not half as bad as you would think. We could chat about everything we had talked about and also about our families and our support network.”