The adoption process

If you are ready to go ahead and start your application to become an adoptive parent then we are as committed as you are to making the process as easy as possible. In fact we will try our best to make sure that it takes no longer than six months, which is a timescale set by the Adoption Regulations and Guidance for England. Whilst every application to adopt is treated individually, here’s an outline of what happens at each stage for everyone who begins the adoption process:

Pre-stage 01

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When you have read through the information and decided to move on to the next stage, get in touch and we will arrange to have an initial discussion over the phone with you.

We will ask a few more questions about your reasons for considering adoption, and then we will arrange a convenient time to come and visit you at home for a more detailed conversation.  Or alternatively, we will also let you know about Information Evenings being held that you may wish to attend at this time.

From the first phone call to the home visit, it’s a chance for us to answer any of your questions and ask anything else we need to know about you. We do have some questions we are required to ask you about your personal circumstances and eligibility to adopt, but everything you tell us will be in complete confidence at this stage.

Whether we see you at an Information Evening, speak to you by phone or make an appointment to see you in your home, this is your opportunity to ask any questions and we will ask anything else we need to know about you at this stage. We should then be able to give you an open and honest opinion of your eligibility to become an adoptive parent.  It is all about making sure that you’re ready for what lies ahead and understanding your role as an adoptive parent.  Then, if it is agreed that adoption is definitely for you, the next stage is to fill out your Registration of Interest Form. We will help you with this as much as possible, and please remember that you are under no obligation – you can withdraw from the process at any stage.

Just get in touch and we’ll have an initial discussion over the phone with you.

Stage 01: (2 months)

So, let’s move on to the first stage of becoming an adoptive parent. Following your first home visit and when we accept your Registration of Interest, there are some vital checks we need to make about you to ensure that children will be cared for safely and also we need to set out exactly what is expected and required from ourselves and yourself as we move forward.

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We aim to complete this Stage 1 process with you within 2 months. Here is an overview of what to expect:

  • When we have accepted your initial registration to adopt we will draw up a written agreement that clearly sets out our own and your responsibilities at this stage to
    ensure that we can work together to move things forward as quickly and effectively as possible for you.
  • We’ll need to carry out checks and collect references too during this initial stage to ensure your eligibility to proceed. Our checks will include getting in touch with the Disclosure and Barring Service, Children’s Services, Local Authorities and we will ask you to have a medical check-up with your GP as well. It does seem intrusive, but we are sure you understand just how vital it is that we have this Information.
  • We will ask you to nominate three personal referees at this stage. One of these should be a family member, and then you simply choose two other people who you are happy for us to contact. It is just so that we can find out a little more about you and the personal strengths you can bring to being an adoptive parent. During Stage 1 we will send your referees a questionnaire to complete – we won’t visit them until a little further down the line.
  • You will also need to undertake some initial preparation towards becoming an adoptive parent. It is not quite ‘training’ as such, but we’ll ask you to complete some self-evaluation exercises and you will be invited to come along and attend preparation groups with other prospective adopters. It is a great chance for you to learn more about the benefits and challenges of adoption, to meet experienced adopters and to learn more about the specific skills you will need as the parent of an adopted child or children. Our aim is to give you the skills you may need in the future.

Moving on

At the end of Stage 1 we will let you know if appropriate to move on to Stage 2 of the process.  If you do wish to continue your application to adopt, you will need to let us know formally – don’t worry, we will help you to get the right paperwork back to us. We will also let you know that you can take up to 6 months [but no longer] to make your decision to take the next step. We know there is a lot to think about, so we understand if you need to take a break from the process right now.

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When you have applied and been approved to move on to Stage 2, and only when you’re ready, we’ll put the next part of the process into action. This stage takes 4 months and here’s what happens next:

  • Firstly we will allocate an Adoption Social Worker who will be your main point of contact from now on. Your Social Worker is there to answer any questions you have and to guide, advise and support you through the rest of the process and beyond.
  • Together we will create an assessment plan, which will detail the further preparation we would like you to undertake, the dates of meetings and visits and anything else relevant to your own adoption application.
  • Stage 2 also involves a period of Home Assessment – this is when your Adoption Social Worker will conduct a series of visits to your home to get to know more about you, your lifestyle, interests and attitudes towards parenthood. It is our chance to get to know you better and we will need to ask some detailed and sometimes delicate questions. But this whole process is carried out with your own best interests and those of the child or children you might adopt at the heart of things. So please just relax and be open and honest with us during these visits.
  • You may continue to attend Preparation Group meetings during this stage. It is a great source of information and advice from people at all stages of the process, and lets you pass on your own experiences too.
  • Your close family members and/or personal friends will be invited to a Supporters Group Information Event. When a child comes to live with you your support network is important. This provides the opportunity for them to learn about adoption also.

As potential adoptive parents there are some things that you can do during the preparation course and home assessment to help towards a smooth and speedy application process. These are:

  • Being open and honest
  • Being willing to learn
  • Telling us what you have learnt from your own life experiences
  • Telling us what you know that will help you care for a child
  • Telling us about your experience of looking after children and seeking out any opportunities that will help you get some experience
  • Nominating suitable referees – these should be people you know well who can comment on how you relate to children and can give their view on you as a prospective adoptive parent
  • Talking to your family and friends about the support they will offer once you adopt.

The Adoption Panel decision

The panel will recommend if they feel you are suitable to become an adoptive parent, and a recommendation will be passed on to the Agency Decision Marker for Children’s Services.  If the panel recommends your approval, you will find out on the same day but it will be perhaps a week before you receive the final decision required. If you are not recommended as ‘suitable to adopt’ you will be given written reasons for this.

Following approval

Once you have been approved to adopt, you probably won’t have a child placed with you right away. The next stage will be for you to be ‘matched’ with a child who will become a member of your family. We are looking for the right family for each child awaiting adoption, so it is not a case of being ‘next in line’. Once matched with a child the Adoption Panel will consider and make a recommendations as to whether they are right for a child, following this we will move forwards towards a child coming to live with you.

Throughout this time your Adoption Social Worker will meet with you on a regular basis to let you know about progress and to see how you are getting on too.

What if your application is not successful?

It is possible that, at any stage of the process, we might advise you that we feel life as an adoptive parent would not be right for you. From the start we will be keeping your own best interests in mind as well as those of the children awaiting adoption.

We will be looking at everything from your personal circumstances to your life skills. If we think an issue can be resolved, then we will work together with you to give you the best possible chance of making a successful application. But it is all about being open and honest at every stage, and sometimes we do advise potential adopters not to continue the process.

However, once you have entered the Home Assessment stage your application will go forward to the Adoption Panel for their consideration.  Once again, if there are any issues that can be resolved at this stage then we will certainly look to do that. But if the decision makers agree that you would not be a suitable adoptive parent then, unfortunately, your application will be turned down. We will put the reasons in writing to you, and we will also let you know how to challenge the decision if you wish to.

Compliments and complaints

As Adoption Agencies we strive to improve and develop our service delivery and therefore welcome and value your comments.  If you have a Compliment or Complaint you wish to make please make representation to:

Solutions Team,
Cheshire West and Chester Council,
Floor 4, HQ, Nicholas Street,
Chester,
CH1 2NP.

Telephone: 01244 975 966

Independent Review Mechanism

The IRM started operation in April 2004, providing adoption applicants in England with the option of applying to an independent body to review the adoption agency’s decision not to approve them as adopters or to withdraw their approval. It is operated by BAAF on behalf of the Department of Education.

The IRM staff welcomes enquiries from people considering applying to the IRM who wish to discuss their options. Please contact:

Contract Manager,
Independent Review Mechanism (IRM),
Unit 4, Pavilion Business Park,
Royds Hall Road,
Wortley,
Leeds,
LS12 6AJ.

Telephone: 0845 450 3956 (charged at local rate)
Fax: 0845 450 3957
Email: irm@baaf.org.uk

We know what a huge effect adoption has on your own life and that of the child’s, so we’re here to help in any way we can.

Post approval

As we have said, once you have been approved to adopt there is a period of time before a child will come home to live with you. We understand that this can be an anxious time and we will work together to provide on-going support for you and your family.  This includes really helpful support groups and workshops where you can meet up with other people going through the adoption process and learn more about life as an adoptive parent. We also organise informal social events to help you form new friendships with other adoptive parents and families.

During the waiting period we really recommend that you make the most of your chance to attend these groups and events as so many people tell us what a great comfort it is to be part of this support system. Your adoption social worker will

maintain regular visits to you and discuss potential children awaiting adoption. We will complete a matching plan agreement outlining roles and responsibilities during this period.

Once a child comes home to live with you

When we think a child or children would be the right ‘match’ for your family, and we have the Agency Decision Makers agreement, we will start the process of introducing you to get to know each other.

This introduction stage is taken at the child’s own pace, but you will have plenty of time to spend together and begin building a relationship.  If all goes well, the child will then come home to live with you to become a member of your family for life. This settling in period is one of adjustment for everyone involved, so your Social Worker and the child’s Social Worker will visit you as often as necessary to advise and guide you through this time until the court grants a formal adoption order.

The legalities

The adoption order passes all legal responsibilities for the child to you, the adoptive parent, and ends all legal ties with the birth family. The child can now take your surname and begin life as a permanent member of your family.

It is extremely rare indeed that birth parents are able to overturn the adoption order and claim the child back. However, we do usually ask that the birth parents receive some news of their child, so we will ask you to write to the birth parents via the adoption team letterbox exchange service. We will support you in this.

Contact with birth parents or other relatives

Sometimes the child will have some contact with their birth family following adoption. This is always dependent on the child and the individual circumstances. This may include direct contact with the birth parents themselves, or an adopted child may have contact with brothers and sisters, grandparents or even a previous foster carer. It is all about making the adoption process as comfortable as possible and ensuring

the child does not lose touch with those people who have been an important part of their lives. So we will ask you to take a positive view of the impact some contact can have on your child’s wellbeing.