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The Adoption Assessment Process

Our team of experienced adoption social workers are looking forward to guiding you through the process of becoming an approved adopter.
One of the most common misconceptions of adopting is how long the assessment process takes. Once you have decided that you want to adopt, most adoption assessments are completed within six months.
The adoption assessment process has an information gathering stage and two formal stages.

Information Gathering

We welcome contact from you by email or phone. One of our adoption social workers will be on hand to answer any immediate questions you have about becoming an adopter.
We also hold regular information sessions for you to meet our social workers and to find out more about the process and about the children waiting.
Following an information evening, one of our adoption social workers will visit you at home to answer more specific queries about yourselves, your family, your home, and your hopes for adoption.
If you decide to go ahead after the home visit, and providing you meet legal requirements around eligibility to adopt, you will be asked to complete a Registration of Interest form which, if accepted, will allow us to start the more formal two stage assessment process.
Stage 1

Stage 1 of the adoption process involves us undertaking the checks we are required to complete as part of any adoption assessment. Your social worker will be on hand to guide you through this process, making suggestions and recommendations where needed.

Checks during this stage will include:

  • A full DBS check, to make sure you can safely look after a child (or children) throughout their life. We urge you to be open about anything you feel may come back from this check so that we can discuss the implications in relation to your application at an early stage.
  • Checks with the local authority social care, child protection and education services where you live or have lived
  • A full medical check with your own GP.
  • Written personal references.
  • You’ll also have the opportunity to attend a 4 day preparation course with other prospective adopters. You will be given information from professionals such as a paediatrician, and a clinical psychologist. You will hear from those with personal experience of adoption as adopters, adopted adults or birth family members.

When these initial checks are back, we will discuss with you about moving into stage 2.

Stage 2

Stage 2 of the process involves a more in-depth assessment. You’ll be regularly visited by your social worker, who will talk to you about all aspects of your life, your family, your relationships (past and present), the support you have, your experience with children, and expectations of being an adoptive parent.

Your social worker will visit your referees including family members.

We will also start to talk to you about the child or children you are looking for to become part of your family.

Adoption Panel

On completion of the assessment, your social worker will then write a detailed report called a Prospective Adopters Report (PAR), to include all the information they have gathered during Stage One and Stage Two.

Your PAR is then sent to the Aspire Adoption Panel and you’ll be invited to attend a Panel meeting with your social worker. The Panel makes a recommendation about your suitability to the Agency Decision Maker, a senior manager in Children’s Services. The Agency Decision Maker will decide if you are suitable to adopt.

Matching and placement of a child or children

Once you have been approved as an adopter, you can be matched with a child. Some prospective adopters are matched quite quickly, but for others it may take longer. This can depend on the children currently waiting and your expectations of the kind of child you are looking for to join your family.

We work closely with members of our Family Finding Team in Aspire to match you with a child locally and with other Local Authorities nationally to find the child or children you would be best matched with.

You will have the opportunity to attend family finding events locally and nationally such as Adoption Exchange days, DVD evenings and Activity Days.

You will be involved in discussions about whether you are the right family for any child or children identified as a possible member of your family. You will meet the child’s current foster carers, talk to medical and psychological experts to find out more about the child and the expectations for their long term care.

If everyone feels that this is the right match, papers will be presented to the Aspire Adoption Panel who will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker to decide if the child should be placed with you. You will be invited to attend Panel with your social worker.

Once the match has been agreed, we will hold meetings with you and the foster carers to plan how best to move the child from their foster home to live with you. You will visit the child, learn about their day to day routines and start to build a relationship with them. These visits are supported by your social worker initially and will be built up over time. These visits will conclude the child being placed with you in your home.

We understand the arrival of a child in your home is a huge change for everyone, you and your family and the child. We will support you through this time. We can advise on anything from statutory adoption leave and pay, to just being on the end of a phone for emotional support.

The Legal Bit – Placement to Adoption Order

It takes a while after the child has been placed with you before the court makes the Adoption Order, which is the point legally when you take full parental responsibility for them. With the local authority’s agreement, once the child has been placed with you for a minimum of 10 weeks, you can apply to the court to legally adopt your child. There will be an adoption hearing in court and the court will make a decision about the granting of an Adoption Order.

When an Adoption Order is granted your child will legally become a full member of your family and you will have full parental responsibility for them.

You and your child will be invited to attend a ceremonial hearing at the court confirming your new legal status as an adoptive family. This is a special day which your family members can come along and share with you.

Early Permanence or Fostering for Adoption

Early Permanence carers are approved adopters who have been prepared and assessed as suitable to undertake a temporary fostering role for a specific child and then will go on to adopt the child if the court decides that adoption should be the plan for that child. At the time the child is placed with the family, there is still a chance that they might be reunited with their birth family. If the court decides that the child’s future is best protected by adoption, the child already has a secure attachment to their carers who are now able to adopt the child.

The advantage of these kind of placements is that the child is settled with their forever family at the earliest possible opportunity, which is better for their long-term emotional development and their ability to form a secure attachment. For adopters, there is the opportunity to bond with a child as young as possible, though with the risk that the courts may decide that the child should return to the care of a birth family member.

Early Permanence carers are offered additional training and receive a fostering allowance during the period whilst the courts are deciding whether the plan for the child should be adoption.

Aspire Adoption is keen to talk to prospective adopters about Early Permanent placements so that our children experience fewer moves in their lives and can be placed with a family they can grow up in as young as possible.

Quote: J & J, adopters “Fostering to adopt was definitely the right route for us – despite some roller coaster up and downs it meant we got to parent our daughter from 6 months old and we wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

For more information, please download our brochure

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Working together to deliver Aspire Adoption Services