The Adoption Process - an overview
To become an approved adopter, you will go through a two stage process.
Stage One is a time for learning, development and reflection for adopters and enables the agency to carry out checks and take up references. It also provides time for adopters to arrange a medical with their GP.
During Stage One you will develop your understanding of adoption and explore your desire to adopt in more detail. At the end of the two month period we will meet with you to explore whether you are ready to progress your journey together with us through the assessment and approval process in Stage Two.
The whole approval process, from the point of formal application, should take no more than Six months in total. With Stage One taking Two months and Stage Two taking Four months. There is also a fast track process for second time adopters and approved foster carers who wish to adopt.
We know you may be a little nervous about speaking with us for the first time but please don't worry. We’re a friendly team and we would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have
We'll also send you an Information Pack which will provide you with more detailed information about adoption.
If you are considering adoption or would like more information, please contact our team for an informal discussion on freephone 0800 923 2777 or alternatively click the link to the enquiry form.
Our Information Sessions provide the opportunity to explore issues of adoption further. You will be given information about children requiring adoption, including their background, needs and interests. Whilst these sessions are not a compulsory part of the recruitment process, many of our enquirers have found them very useful. You will hear from people who have successfully adopted and develop your understanding of adoption and the options open to you.
If you decide you would like to pursue your interest further then a member of our team will visit you at your home to discuss in more depth the issues surrounding adoption. They will discuss your personal circumstances and motivations to adopt. This meeting gives you the opportunity to learn more about becoming an adoptive parent and explore if it is right for you and your family. At the end of the visit you will be given a confirmation of interest form which will need to be completed and returned if you wish to progress to Stage One of the process.
During Stage One we will help you explore what adoption will mean for you and your family. You will also need to undergo various checks including a medical and criminal records check and you will be asked to provide personal referees.
Training and reflective learning will be an integral part of Stage One and will help to inform your decision and preparation to adopt. Sefton Adoption Service will provide you with a Resource Pack. This pack includes CD’s and accompanying workbooks, recommended reading and key factsheets all of which will provide you with rich information about adopting. We will also ask you to provide detailed information about your background which will help inform the assessment in the following stage. Even though this stage is largely led by you as prospective adopters, you are not expected to go it alone. We hold monthly drop in workshops and of course our dedicated Stage One social workers are always on the end of the phone!
The One Day Preparation Workshop in Stage One provides an opportunity to explore in more depth some of the key issues about adoption and acts as the introduction to the Preparing to Adopt Training Course.
Stage Two of the adoption process begins when Stage One has been fully completed and we receive confirmation that you wish to progress. Stage Two is about intensive training and assessment and takes you right through to approval as adopters. It will take around four months to complete this stage and we will fully guide you and support you through the process. A fundamental part of this stage will be your Assessment Report and Preparation Groups.
Alongside your assessment, you will attend a 3 day Preparing to Adopt course which will compliment the one day workshop you will have attended in Stage One. This will help you to gain an in depth understanding of adoption and the picture in Sefton. Some of the issues you will cover are: why children come into care, separation and loss they feel, understanding and managing behaviours and contact with birth parents. During the group you’ll have a chance to meet experienced adopters to hear first hand what it’s really like. This training forms an integral part of your assessment and will help prepare you for a child joining your family.
The Assessment Report
The assessment report is known as the Prospective Adopters Report (PAR). It is a detailed report which details the skills and qualities you can offer a child. A social worker will visit your home, usually around 10 times. This is to learn more about your family and support networks and your motivations to adopt. They will discuss a range of subjects about adoption including issues involved in caring for looked after children.
Your social worker will then pull together all the information into a detailed written report, outlining your skills and strengths and the type of child or children who would best fit with your skills and lifestyle. You'll have a chance to see this report and can add your own comments to it should you wish before it is presented to the adoption panel.
Your report will be presented to the adoption panel for their recommendation on your suitability to adopt a child.
The adoption panel is an independent body made up of professionals and lay people drawn together from a variety of backgrounds with an interest or experience of adoption. They advise the Council on the suitability of people who apply to become adopters. The panel consists of representatives from the following areas:
• Health and education
• An adult who was adopted
• An adoptive parent
• An elected council member
• A social worker from the child care and residential field
• An independent person
• An experienced adoption social worker
There is also a medical, legal, and agency advisor who can be called upon to give advice and guidance upon any related medical or legal matter. The panel will be asked to make a recommendation in respect of your approval, based upon the information provided in your assessment report.
When your report is presented to the adoption Panel you will be invited and encouraged to attend.
The panel recommendation then goes to the Agency Decision Maker for a final decision. Your Social Worker or Panel Chair will advise you of the Panel’s recommendation on the day and the Agency Decision Maker will write to you within 7 working days.
I’m approved what next?
Once you’ve been approved you will naturally be eager to be matched with a child. Your social worker will share information with you about potential children. Saying how long this process may take can be difficult as it’s important that a good match is made for children requiring adoption. However we will look locally, regionally and nationally to ensure the right match for you and a child is achieved in a timely manner. Once a match is identified you will return to the Adoption Panel for a further recommendation regarding the match and this similarly is referred to the Agency Decision Maker for their agreement. A placement Planning meeting will agree a planned period of introductions and placement of your child.
To make an adoption legal, you need to apply for an adoption court order. This gives you parental rights and responsibilities for the child and severs all legal ties with the child’s birth family permanently. The child must have lived with you for at least 10 weeks before you submit your application to adopt to the court.