Before Approval as Prospective Adopters:
Enquiry To Approval
Click to enlarge
When you begin to think about adoption, there are many ways you can find out more information. First4Adoption is a national agency which can help you with this and also advise about the agencies in your area who you may wish to approach. We would encourage you to approach a number of agencies as this will help you choose the one that is right for you.
Should you choose to make an enquiry with Peterborough City Council, we would provide you with an information pack about adoption with this agency. You would also be invited to attend one of our monthly information sessions run by social workers in the team. These are a great way to learn more about adoption, the support and training that is available and have any questions answered to help you decide whether it is the right option for you.
Once you have received information and made the decision to proceed with adoption, we would then like to make arrangements for an informal meeting with you, answer any individual questions and learn more about your interest in adoption. Ideally, we would like to meet with you at home although in some situations, a phone call may be possible.
Stage One – Registration and Checks
If you decide that Peterborough City Council is the agency that you would like to adopt through, it is at this stage when you formally register your interest to become an adoptive parent. You will receive a response in five days confirming whether or not we are able to accept this from you.
Your Registration of Interest form gives us permission to take references and carry out medical and criminal background checks, (DBS) as well as Local Authority checks. You will also be asked to provide three referees who will need to be interviewed, two of which have to be non family members. This will take two months.
It is during this stage we will agree with you what preparation we feel you need to become an adoptive parent. This may include attendance at training sessions, further reading or ways of gaining additional experience. Preparation days are offered which cover themes around the skills needed by adoptive parents to care for children who may have experienced neglect and abuse. They take place in Peterborough, usually from 9:30 – 4:30 and are lead by social workers from the team.
At the end of Stage One, based on the information gathered during this period, we will make a pre-assessment decision about whether or not we feel that you are suitable to continue with the process and the reasons for this. If the outcome of this positive, you should let us know within six months of completing Stage One, if you wish to continue with the adoption process.
Stage Two – Training and Assessment:
This is the training and assessment part of the adoption process which has two functions – firstly to confirm that you are suitable to adopt and secondly, give you the skills needed to become an adoptive parent. This will take four months.
Once you have notified us that you wish to proceed to assessment, we will make an assessment plan outlining the assessment process and any further meetings and training requirements. We expect you to attend at least two full days of training during this stage. The main part of the assessment is the home study. This consists of a series of home visits made by your allocated social worker from the team who will spend time getting to know you and your understanding of adoption and the sort of child you will be able to support. This involves conversations with you, your partner (if applicable), any children or other people who live with you and some of your wider friends and family. We may also want to contact previous significant partners, especially if there have been children involved in the relationship.
Once this assessment is complete, your social worker will gather all of the information together into a Prospective Adopters Report with a recommendation about your suitability to adopt. You will be provided with a copy of this and have the opportunity to comment on it before it goes to panel if you wish.
Our Independent Adoption Panel reviews the information prepared by your social worker and considers it in detail. You will be invited to attend panel along with your social worker to contribute your views should you wish. The panel is made up of adoption experts, experienced adopters and independent members. When the adoption panel has made a recommendation, our adoption agency decision maker will decide if you are suitable to adopt.
Once you have been approved as a prospective adopter, we can then begin the search for an appropriate child with you. If for some reason your application is not approved by the adoption panel and you disagree with the reasons for their recommendation, you can make a request for your application to be considered by the independent review mechanism, (independent body) within 40 days.
After Approval as Prospective Adopters:
Matching – Finding the right child for your family
Once you are approved as an adopter, your social worker will keep in touch and let you know about children who need families. As an agency, we are responsible for finding adoptive parents for children in our care but do also look for parents in other areas, especially if moving away from birth family is in the child’s best interests. We aim to find the best ‘match’ possible for children from the pool of available adopters approved through the Peterborough City Council. This can be done a number of ways:
• Match a Peterborough child
Peterborough Adoption Service hold monthly family finding meetings and this is when consideration is given to matches between adopters and Peterborough children needing adoptive families. There might be more than one adoptive family suitable for a particular child and so a ‘matching’ meeting will then take place to explore with the child’s social worker which adoptive family from those identified is best able to meet their needs.
Sometimes we will have a child in mind for you even from the early stages of the adoption process. If this is the case, then we will often inform you during the assessment process so that consideration can be given to this.
If there are no suitable children in Peterborough in three months of your approval, your social worker can extend the search through the:
• National Adoption Register
The Adoption Register works with adoption agencies from across the country and the adoption consortia to make sure that all children and families have the best chance of finding a suitable match. Its primary purpose is to find adoptive families for children whom Local Authorities cannot find a home for locally. Details of children needing families and people approved to adopt are kept on the Adoption Register Database. Their skilled team of family placement social workers then looks at the information on the database to see whether they can suggest possible ‘matches’ between children and prospective adopters. Your details can either be referred by your social worker or you can make a self referral.
• East Midlands Consortium
The East Midlands Consortium is a partnership of nine Local Authority agencies, (Peterborough, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Leicester City, Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City and Derbyshire, Derby City and Northamptonshire) as well as voluntary adoption agencies. Similarly to the Adoption Register, the consortium holds information about waiting children and approved adopters. Your details can be referred to the consortium by your social worker.
• Exchange Day Events
An adoption exchange day is an event for approved adopters looking for a child and adoption agencies whom are family finding for children. They are held by many agencies throughout the country. You will need to be invited to an event. These events can be exhilarating but at the same, overwhelming as there will be lots of information and profiles of children needing families. There will also be lots of other people in the same situation as you. At each agency stand, there is the opportunity for you to talk with social workers about children they are family finding for and give them your details if a child appears to be a possible link for you.
• Activity Days
At an adoption activity day, children have the opportunity to meet families who want to adopt as well as other children who are also waiting to be adopted. At these events, you will be able see and get to know some of these children by joining in with the range of activities that will be on offer. You will also be able to talk to the child’s foster carers and social worker. If you have your own children, they are also able to attend.
• Other Resources
Peterborough City Council also works in partnership with Adoption UK which prospective adopters can also join as members. It is an agency which provides information, training and guidance at all stages of the adoption process. They have a family finding magazine, ‘Children Who Wait’ and online service which features profiles of children who need adoptive families. BAAF provide a similar family finding service, ‘Be My Parent’ newspaper and online service.
Deciding upon a match:
Your social worker will discuss possible children with you and once a possible match has been identified, then arrangements will be made to explore this further and ascertain additional information. It is very important that you know as much as possible about the child’s past such as their family background, experiences, time in care and any medical or educational needs. At this stage, you will be offered the opportunity to meet the child’s foster carers, our medical advisor and depending upon their age, educational staff. This knowledge will help you understand the child for when they come to live with you and support them as they grow. Once you agree that a suitable child has been identified, we return to Adoption Panel to consider the match. If the panel approves the match, it is the child’s adoption agency who then makes the final decision about whether the match should go ahead.
Introductions and Move:
Once the child’s adoption agency has given its approval, introductory meetings will then take place in their foster home where you and the child will get to know one another. These meetings will be built up over time, usually over a seven – ten day period, leading to them moving in with you. During these introductions, you and your child will be supported by social workers as you are getting to know each other, start living together and become a family. We usually ask an adoptive parent to take a minimum of six months off work when a child is first placed, depending upon their age to help them settle and build new relationships and attachments.
Making the Adoption Legal:
The minimum period before you can apply to court for an Adoption Order is 10 weeks but for some families, a longer period of adjustment and support from social workers may be helpful. Until an Adoption Order is made, yours and the child’s social workers will continue to visit and offer you and the child support. When the court grant an Adoption Order, this is when the child is legally adopted by you and you have full parental responsibility for them.