Many adoptive parents think over the decision to adopt for a long time before they take the plunge and start the formal adoption process. But what is involved?
Adopting a child or a group of siblings is a life-changing decision and so it comes as no surprise that you want every question answering and every angle covered. This is a whistle-stop look at the adoption process and what is involved.
Who can adopt?
Anyone over the age of 21 with the space in their homes and lives can adopt. You need to be energetic, flexible, determined and patient to be an adoptive parent, as well as prepared for the unexpected.
You don’t have to be married or part of a relationship to adopt, and neither is religion, sexuality, gender or age an issue.
It is recognised that the thousands of children waiting for adoption have a range of needs that must be met – and that means adoptive parents from all walks of life.
How do you apply to adopt?
You apply to adopt through an adoption agency. Some have links to local authorities, whilst others are voluntary organisations. There are also faith-based adoption agencies too.
Do your research until you find the agency that you feel most able to ‘connect’ with. Adopting is an important process, and you will need to feel comfortable completing their application process.
What is ‘approved to adopt’?
This is the process which, at the end of, you will have what you need to be able to be matched to a child for adoption.
In England and Wales, it is a two-stage adoption process which takes around six months to complete. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, the process is slightly different again but the differences are minimal.
During this time, your assigned social worker will get to know you, an important part of the assessment process. They will also help you to be prepared for the changes ahead!
The process is thorough and includes;
- A medical assessment
- Confidential enquiries to social services and the police regarding you
- Personal references
Once the paperwork is complete, it will be presented to the Adoption Panel. This is a group of professional and local volunteers with connections to adoption who review your application. You may get the chance to meet the panel too, to ask questions and so on. They may have some questions for you too.
When will I be matched to a child?
As part of the approval process, you will have set out the age and possibly gender of the child or sibling group you would like to adopt.
Once you have your adoption approval, the fostering agency will search the various nationwide databases for children that match your approval criteria. This can happen quickly but even when you think it is a slow process, you need to remember – it WILL happen!
What support to adopted parents receive?
The adoption agency will have a whole raft of support for adoptive parents in place so that adoptions are successful. This can include initial financial support, as well as training and helplines, as well as social worker contact.
There are also helplines run by independent organisations and adoption charities that are helpful in providing information and advice to would-be and adopted parents.
Can I take adoption leave?
Statutory adoption leave and statutory adoption is something you may be entitled to.
Every adopted parent is entitled to 26 weeks leave – known as ordinary adoption leave – and then a further 26 weeks, known as additional adoption leave. You can find the latest details at the UK Government website.
Is adoption something you are considering? What is your next step?
Adopters for Adoption is a leading adoption agency with an unrivalled reputation for offering fantastic support to adopters and their adopted families.