The adoption process is in two stages. It is possible, and sometimes recommended, to take a pause between stages one and two.
Stage One lasts around two months. During this stage there is an opportunity to find out more about adoption and whether it is for you. There will be reading to do and training courses to attend. A number of checks are carried out. These include a DBS check, medical examinations and checks to ensure your home is suitable and child-friendly. References will also be taken up – usually three for each applicant. There will be occasional visit by a social worker and a short report will be created. The agency will then decide whether or not the applicant(s) can proceed to stage two.
Stage Two should take no more than four months. It involves the ‘Home Study’ – a series of six to 12 visits to find out more about you and your family, your background, support network, environment and neighbourhood, your views on parenting, what you think you have to offer and skills you might have or develop. During this time you’ll get to know your social worker really well, and they you! It will also be a time of self-discovery. At times the process will feel intrusive, but it’s important to remember why it’s so rigorous. Many adoptive parents we have spoken to look back and appreciate the opportunity to explore the issues and find it a really helpful preparation.
At the end of this time the Prospective Adopter’s Report (PAR) will be completed. This isn’t a secret report. You’ll be able to read it, discuss it with your social worker, and add your comments.
You will now be ready for ‘Panel’. By now, as the work has already been done, the likely outcome is usually clear and the vast majority of applicants that attend panel are approved. Following approval, the process of finding a child, or children, begins.
The family finding process begins straight after you have been approved by panel as an adopter.
Local Authorities are responsible for finding adoptive parents for the children in their care. Your agency will work with Local Authorities across the country to find the child(ren) that would be best cared for by you and your family.
Your agency may show you profiles of different children and you can also see children’s profiles from across the UK in the magazines Be My Parent and Children Who Wait. Your social worker will be able to filter profiles to show you ones that are suitable for you. Your social worker will discuss the profiles with you and can give you more detailed information about the children.
Once a suitable child has been identified, your agency will produce a report and a matching panel will make a recommendation about the placement. The agency has the final decision about whether to place the child in the adoptive placement.