I’ve outlined the stages of adoption – now please bear in mind that this is just my perspective (and a rough overview!) and so if you are considering adoption, look at official sites (such as British adoption and fostering – BAAF) for more information about the process.
√ 1. Thinking about adoption – How long this takes obviously varies from person to person!
√ 2. Choosing a local authority or a charity to process your adoption – We always thought about using a local authority, I can’t really say why, it’s just something that we have always gone with. I’m not sure what charities are like and how they differ. If you are in doubt, it’s best to find out more about each of them and what’s best for you.
√ 3. Choosing which charity or local authority – wow, there are so many out there, how do you choose? We found it easier to go to adoption open nights in which lots of adoption agencies and charities were at one place which saves you a lot of time! It’s a very personal decision (as every step of this is!) so you have to go with the one you feel happiest with. We chose ours because they seemed very gay friendly and we just got a good vibe off them. Not very scientific but seems to have worked so far. Oh and we also wrote a short-list of agencies and one of the deciding factors was the Ofsted report. The best thing to do at this stage is to shop around.
Right after all those thought-provoking bits, it’s time to make it official:
√ Stage 1: Contact the agency/charity and have a chat. They should send you an application form or invite you to an open evening.
√ Stage 2: Complete application form.
√ Stage 3: First meeting. Social worker rings to arrange a home visit to talk about your circumstances and why you want to adopt. Social worker feeds back to the team to decide whether you should go onto the next steps or need to do something else before you can go on.
√ Stage 4: Prep Groups. If you are approved to go ahead, get invited to prep groups. These are generally 4 days and take the whole day. Other prospective adopters go on this course too so you get to meet people at the same stage as you.
√ Stage 5: Home visits begin. You are allocated a social worker and s/he contacts you to arrange a meeting at your home. The home visits take about 6 months to complete and it is a time for the social worker to get to know you so they can find you a child that is suitable for you. They complete a very, very long form (called a PAR) about you which you get to read before it goes to panel.
√ Stage 6: Panel. A panel of people read your report, talk to your social worker and may want to talk to you. They make a recommendation about whether you go ahead with the next step.
√ Stage 7: Matching. If you are approved, you start matching. Your family finder (social worker) tries to place you with a suitable child. You can also find out about children in Children who wait or Be my Parent (two publications that contain children who are for adoption), or AdoptionLink (a really good website). The publications feel a bit weird at first as it feels like you’re shopping but they are very good resources and makes you feel as if you have some control over the process. Your profiles get swapped so you can read more about the child and the child’s social worker reads your profile. If the child’s sw likes what they read, they will ask to visit you in your home. If the visit goes well, then preparations are made for matching panel.
√ Stage 8: Matching panel. Another panel where they decide if the match is suitable.
√ Stage 9:Introductions. When you find a child, the child’s social worker reads your report, meets your and you. If they are happy with this match, you start introductions.
√ Stage 10: Introductions begin. This varies depending on child, their background and their age and any other things that may be involved! The child will eventually (or quickly) move in with you.
√ Stage 11: Adoption order. You apply for an adoption order. You have to go to adoption panel. You go to court. It’s official! You have a child!
Phew – got that? Then the real fun begins!