What does an adoption application involve?
The decision to apply to become an adoptive parent is an important one and you will need as much information as possible before you do so. Members of our adoption teams will be happy to talk to you on the telephone and meet with you to answer any questions you wish to ask.
We provide a preparation course for all prospective adopters at the beginning of the adoption process. During the course you will have the opportunity to meet adoptive parents and adults who have been adopted, to discuss issues concerning adoption.
This is your chance to ask as many questions as you wish.
Your ages – we will want to know whether you are able to care for a child now and throughout their childhood, but there are no rigid age limits.
Medical considerations – obviously your health is an important factor as are issues such as smoking and alcohol consumption. You will be asked to provide information regarding your lifestyle. All adoptive applicants are required to have medical examinations with their own general practitioner during the assessment process.
Accommodation – May be rented or owner occupied but will need to be appropriate to the offer you are making, providing a secure home.
Religion – we are a non-sectarian agency legally birth parents are able to specify a preference for their child, but you would not be asked to bring up a child in a religion different from your own unless you have specially offered to do so.
Disability – People with a disability can apply to adopt.
Sexual orientation – is not a bar to adoption. Couples who are in same sex relationships can apply.
Pets – any pets you have will be considered in relation, to health, hygiene and safety needs of children.
Work – in the early stages of becoming a family most children will need one parent to be at home for a time. You may wish to seek adoption leave from your employer. Recent changes to the law requires most employers to allow for paid and unpaid adoption leave.
Previous convictions- we have a statutory duty to ask you to make an application to the Criminal Records Bureau. Your social worker will help you to do this and we will pay the cost of this process. All previous convictions need to be declared as certain convictions or cautions prohibit approval as adoptive parents.
We have a duty to consider the effects of smoking on children in their care and will not usually place pre-school children (around five or under) or those with a heart or chest/respiratory complaint such as asthma, with people who smoke. Where prospective adopters wish to adopt children from the aforementioned groups we ask that prospective adopters have given up smoking and have not smoked for a period of 6 month or longer before starting the adoption process. The use of e-cigarettes will be assessment on an individual basis.
Taking the next step…
Once you have enquired, either via the freephone number or by completing the on-line enquiry form by clicking on ‘contact us’ we will send you our information booklet. Having read the booklet, if you wish to proceed simply come along to our next information event.
Completion of any forms at the information event does not commit you in anyway, it simply advises us that you wish to be considered as prospective adoptive parent/s so an adoption team member can contact you and discuss it with you further.
You will be asked to give written permission for Police, Probation, Department of Health and Local Authority checks so that they can be made.
This completes the 1st step of the adoption process (referred to a pre-stage)
Once this step has been competed a social worker will post you some additional information what we will ask you to complete and also give you access to additional resources to improve your understanding of adoption and its processes. During the stage a Social Worker will also arrange to meet you in your home. This step of the process is called stage 1 and will need to be completed within 2 months.
Once you have complete stage 1 you will move into stage 2 which will be completed in a maximum 4 months. You will then be invited to attend a preparation course. These courses are available on monthly intervals throughout the year and are held around the Black Country.
Following the preparation course you will be given application forms and if it is agreed that you should continue with your application, a social worker will be allocated to complete your home study.
You will be required to have medical examinations carried out by your own G.P. You will be asked to name three people willing to give written references concerning you. Two of these references should be people who are not related to you. All referees will subsequently be visited in connection with your application.
What does a home study involve?
During your assessment you will have the opportunity of considering profiles of children. A social worker from the project will advise and support you through the assessment process until you have completed the training. Then your home study will be completed by a social worker from the most appropriate of the four participating agencies.
During the home study your social worker will visit you in your home. It is important for us to get to know you and learn as much as possible about your potential to become an adoptive parent. For example, we will need to discuss your own childhood and upbringing and your capacity to make relationships. Your ability to understand other people’s points of view and their feelings is important. We will need to understand how you have dealt with change and trauma in the past. A key part of the report will concern your decision about the sort of child you feel you could adopt.
The home study involves you and your social worker completing a home study report (this is called a PAR) for the adoption panel. You will be given a copy of a PAR/Form F during the preparation course. The content of the report (apart from the interviews with your referees) will be shared with you and you will have an the opportunity to comment on what has been written about you.
Your social worker will present your application to the adoption panel and you will be encouraged to attend the panel meeting if you wish to do so. The adoption panel will make a recommendation to the Adoption Agency and the Agency then takes a decision as to whether you should or should not be accepted as prospective adopters.
Nationally, 94% of applications which get to this stage are accepted. There is an appeal procedure for refused applications.
What is an adoption panel?
The Adoption Panel is a representative body of 10 members, appointed according to Government guidance, to include both professional and lay people who have particular knowledge and understanding about children and adoption.
What happens after approval?
Once you have been approved the agency which completed your assessment will wish to place children with you who are being looked after by their authority. If they do not have a child for you to consider they will ask if they can share your details with the other three agencies in the Adoption in the Black Country project.
Details of approved adoptive parents are also sent to the West Midlands Family Placement Consortium and the National Adoption Register so that adoptive parents can be available to children who need families wherever they live. Children from other parts of the country are also featured in family finding publications such as Adoption Today and Be My Parent.
What happens after being linked to a child?
It is important when you are being linked with a child that you are given as much information as possible. You will have a chance to talk to the child’s social worker and, if you wish, to the Agency’s medical advisor. You will be given time to think over all you have learnt and you are, of course under no obligation to accept a child who does not seem right for you. We are aware that it is not always easy to say no but this may be in everyone’s best interest, particularly the child’s.
When the adoption panel has recommended that you are matched with a child and the agency has agreed, a period of introductory visits will follow. These enable you and the child to get to know each other. There will be meetings to plan the placement. If at any stage you feel unsure about the plan you must tell your social worker. The child will only move to live with you when everyone involved with the placement considers the time is right. And remember, you are not alone, your adoption worker will offer you support pre and post adoption.
Once a child is living with you
During the time the child is living with you before adoption, their social worker will visit you as well as your own social worker. Adoption agencies have a responsibility to visit the child and undertake regular reviews of their progress until they are adopted. Your social worker is there to offer you advice and support.
What are the legal procedures?
Legal adoption is the process by which a court makes an order, the effect of which is to transfer all parental responsibility to the adoptive parent(s). When an adoption order is made by the court, the child’s birth certificate is replaced by a certificate which shows the details of the entry in the adoption register, naming the adopters as parents.
The timing of making an adoption application will need to be discussed at the child’s review. The legal aspects of some adoptions are complex, and you will be advised by your social worker when an application should be made. The child will also need to be settled with you and you will need to feel the time is right.
Becoming a Forever Family
On the day of the adoption hearing, you are required to attend court with your child and any other children in your family. Your social worker will attend court with you.
This is a happy occasion and a day for celebration when you legally become your son/daughter.
You are not alone
Don’t worry, you are not alone once the adoption hearing has taken place. There is no legal obligation to remain involved with the adoption agency but there is support and advice available during any stage of your child’s life.
Smelly socks, muddy football boots and toys scattered all over the house we can’t help with but should you need any advice or support, we are there at the end of a phone.
It is important to remember that it is ok to ask for help