Steps to becoming an adopter or permanent foster carer
Following an initial chat when you contact us, our recruitment team who will pass your enquiry on to our Permanence Team. They will call you back to discuss your interest in much more detail.
We hold information meetings throughout the year where you can meet social workers, adoptive parents and permanent foster carers. They can tell you what it is really like. You can also find out about the assessment process and the children who are waiting for permanent homes.
A social worker will arrange to meet you where you will find out a lot more about what will happen if you decide to go ahead. The social worker will also discuss with you what you can offer a child and what you want from adoption or permanent fostering.
The social worker will arrange to visit you again to ask some questions about yourself and your partner (if applicable). This is called your Initial Enquiry. A brief report will be written and shared with you at this stage.
If your enquiry goes ahead, you will begin a longer period of preparation, assessment and training.
Preparation is a time when you can find out more detail and do some very important thinking about making a lifetime commitment to a child. Our preparation groups are held regularly throughout the year. The eight sessions are held during the daytime or in the evenings and will cover a range of issues related to adoption and permanent fostering. This includes case studies of children requiring permanent care and some of the processes and legal aspects relevant to adoption.
You have a crucial role to play at this point. These weeks are a chance for you to take a very honest look at what you want out of adoption or permanent fostering and what you can offer a child. You will have time to think about all the important issues. What are the child’s needs? What are your strengths and weaknesses as an adoptive parent or permanent foster carer likely to be? Can you make the sort of commitment that will really make a difference to a child’s life?
At the end of the preparation group you will be invited to make an application to be assessed as prospective adopters or permanent foster carers.
The purpose of the home study report is to identify strengths and any vulnerabilities you may have. A social worker from the Permanence Team will make a number of visits to your home and will try to get to know you by exploring with you, your own family background, your childhood experiences and your present circumstances. If you are a couple, the social worker will see you together and individually.
At the end of the home study, you and your social worker will work together to produce a home study report. The report includes a detailed assessment of you as a potential adoptive parent or permanent foster carer.
It will include consideration of your medical, disclosure, personal and employment references. A key part of the report is for you and your worker to decide the sort of child or children you feel you could care for. Could you, for example, look after a child with a physical or learning difficulty? What age range would you consider? And how many children would you take? The home study is demanding but also rewarding and can feel intrusive. It will take several months to complete. Adoption and permanent fostering are commitments for life.
The home study report is presented to a panel of three or four people, who will include social workers, other professionals and independent members including approved adopters. You and your social worker will attend to answer any of their questions. Once the panel has considered the report, they will recommend whether or not you should be approved as an adoptive parent or permanent foster carer. The agency decision maker will then decide whether or not to accept the panel’s recommendations within 14 days of the panel meeting.
Once you are approved we will begin to consider whether there are children waiting for a family who might be a suitable match for you.
Once a child or children have been identified, you will be given full information about the child/children’s background. You will then meet with their social worker, the medical advisor and the child’s current foster carer. Following a professionals meeting to explore the potential strengths and vulnerabilities of the proposed match, a matching panel will normally be arranged within four to six weeks. The agency decision maker will then decide whether or not to accept the panel’s recommendations within 14 days of the panel meeting.
When adopting, you will be able to petition the court any time 13 weeks after a child or children have been placed with you, provided the permanence order with authority to adopt has been granted. Social workers will complete the necessary paperwork. If you are permanently fostering, the legal position will vary and your social worker will be able to advise you.
Once you are an approved adopter or permanent carer your social worker will remain involved to support you. You will also be offered group support and training to help you with any issues which may arise. Your social worker will organise this according to your needs or those of your child.