At the beginning of the adoption process, you understandably have an overwhelming number of questions. This article aims to address the most common questions individuals have about the adoption process and how to start.
You are likely coming to adoption from a range of different backgrounds. You may already have children who have grown-up, or you’re looking to start your family through adoption. You may have suffered a loss or be looking to adopt your step-child. These differences mean there can be some differences in approach. This is a broad overview of the adoption process for children from the care system.
The basics of adoption
A child must be under 18 and not be married or in a civil partnership (or ever have been). A potential adopter must be over 21. You can be single, married, in a civil partnership, or partners (opposite sex or same sex). You do have to have been living in the UK for a minimum of one year before applying and have a fixed and permanent home here. You
don’t have to be a British citizen.
How to get started with adoption
You have two routes open to you when you would like to adopt: through your local council (or specifically, an agency that is part of the council), or through a voluntary adoption agency, such as Adopters for Adoption.
Even if you are not 100% sure that adoption is the right decision for you, it is worth making contact with an adoption agency. This is because they are best positioned to advise you on the realities of the process and address any concerns you may have. They can send you information about how adoption works, but also chat with you about it.
An agency is likely to suggest meeting with you face to face. This isn’t the start of an assessment. It really is just a preliminary enquiry to benefit you. It’s a chance to discuss adoption and what it means. The agency is then also likely to invite you to a get-together with other people who are also looking into adoption.
Applying to adopt
It is only once you’ve been through these preliminary stages that you will then be invited to apply for adoption if you wish. The first step involves merely completing an application form. This gathers the main facts about you, your household and your wishes.
Once your chosen agency receives the form, the formal process begins. You can expect the complete process, from the application stage to being matched with a child, to take around six months. It may be longer.
The first steps following application
Once your application has been submitted to your chosen agency, this will start the ball rolling. The first step involves a process of assessment which is geared at looking at your suitability to adopt.
Assessment happens through a range of different methods. You’ll be asked to attend adoption preparation classes. Social workers will visit you to chat with you and assess the suitability of your home. In the background, police checks take place and following up of references. You’ll also need to have a full medical examination.
During the assessment, you’ll need to cover a lot of ground and answer a lot of personal questions. These include questions about finances, your background, your health and more. It’s vital to understand that the purpose of these questions is to best match you with a suitable child.
Following the assessment process, a report will be compiled with all of the relevant information.
This report is then submitted to a panel of experts, at the agency, who are then responsible for deciding if you are suitable to adopt a child.
What happens next?
If the adoption panel decides that you are suitable for adopting a child, you then move on to the process of actually being matched with a child. Following matching, you’ll need to apply for an adoption court order to make the adoption legal.