What happens next?
As you can imagine, adopting a child is a life changing decision. To make sure that adoption is right for you and that we find stable and secure homes for the children we care for, we will progress your application following national guidelines - changed on the 1st July 2013. We aim to support you through every step of that process as quickly as we possibly can and have a proven track record of meeting all target turnaround times that are set nationally.
To find out more about adopting with Staffordshire you need to come along to one of our information meetings. These friendly and relaxed meetings are held throughout the year and in different locations around the county.
If you think that adoption might be the right decision for you, then we ask that you make an initial enquiry to our Fostering and Adoption Service enquiry line. You can do this by:
- Telephoning one of our friendly advisers on 0800 169 2061 9am-5pm Monday – Thursday or 9am-4.30pm Friday. Or;
- Completing our quick and easy adoption online enquiry form (We aim to respond within 24 hours of receiving your form).
Information giving session - pre Stage One
Once you have made your enquiry, attended an information meeting and you are happy to continue exploring adoption, we will arrange for a social worker to visit you in your home within 10 days at a time to suit you. The Social Worker will tell you about the children who need adoptive families. They will tell you what will happen next and answer any questions you may have about adopting with Staffordshire.
They will then write a short report to the Team Manager with their recommendations. You will be sent a letter informing you of the decision and if your application has been successful you will also be sent a Registration of Interest (ROI) form which you need to complete and return.
Within five working days of receiving your Registration of Interest (ROI) we will contact you to advise if your ROI has been accepted, and if not give clear written reasons why. If you take longer than six months to return your ROI you need to make a new enquiry as your circumstances may have changed.
For the next two months a range of checks and references will be taken up (including police, medical, financial and personal references) to help us reach a decision on your suitability to be assessed as a prospective adopter for Staffordshire County Council. At the same time you will undertake an initial training programme known as Adoption Preparation and you will be given a range of reading materials in order to help you find out more about what it means to parent through adoption. The course will look in depth about what is involved within the adoption process and you will have the opportunity to meet and hear from foster carer's and people who have adopted children.
Once checks and references have been completed the Adoption Manager will make a decision on whether you can proceed to Stage 2. This is known as a pre-assessment decision. If you are not accepted to go forward at this stage you will be given a clear decision in writing.
If you are accepted you will have six months in which to decide whether you want to proceed with Stage 2. (If you take longer you will need to make a new enquiry).
Once we receive your written notice to proceed, we will take up to 14 weeks to complete your full assessment. If more information is required that will exceed the time period we will put reasons for this in writing to you.
At the beginning of this stage your assessing Social Worker will draw up an assessment plan with you, setting dates for interview appointments and a proposed date for your approval to be considered by the Adoption Panel. The information required in an assessment report is specified in government regulations. We will try to work around your availability and will work outside of office hours.
The Adoption Panel
At the end of the home-based assessment, a Prospective Adopters Report (PAR) is completed and you and your Social Worker will be invited to attend an Adoption Panel. The job of the panel is to read the reports and from this information and meeting with you, they will make a recommendation as to whether you are suitable to become adoptive parents.
The panel is made up of roughly six members with expertise on adoption. The meeting is chaired by an independent person and other members including Social Workers, independent members with personal experience on adoption and a member of the county council. Panel members may ask questions of you and your Social Worker. Throughout this whole process you will be supported by your Social Worker.
The recommendation made by the panel, which also outlines the reasons for this recommendation, is then considered by the Agency Decision Maker who is a Senior Manager of Children’s Services who makes the decision on behalf of Staffordshire County Council. Once the decision is made you will be notified in writing.
If the agency decision maker decides that you are not suitable you will be given clear written reasons along with advice on how to make representations to the adoption agency or have the decision reviewed by the Independent Review Mechanism should you choose to.
Once you are approved
Once you are approved as an adopter, your Social Worker will begin to tell you about children in Staffordshire who are waiting for families. You will be given lots of information including photographs and medical details before you are expected to make a decision about a particular child or children. Your Social Worker will support you the whole time.
If you are not matched with a child or children after three months your name will be placed on the National adoption register which will enable other local authorities to consider you for children they have waiting.
The suggested match will then be considered by the Adoption Panel. Again it is the role of the Agency Decision Maker to agree that you are the right parent/s for a particular child/ren. Following this formal ‘matching’, introductions between you and the child/ren begin. The child’s Foster Carers and Social Worker meet with you and your Social Worker to agree a plan leading to the day the child/ren finally move/s in with you.
Once the child is with you, both the child’s Social Worker and your Social Worker will visit to see how you are all getting on. You will be given advice and information about the process of applying to court to adopt the child/ren. This can happen once the child has lived with you for 10 weeks. The adoption order given by the court gives you all parental rights and responsibilities for the child/ren.
What can you do?
As potential adoptive parents there are some things that you can do during the preparation course and home assessment to help towards a smooth and speedy application process. These are:
- Being open and honest
- Being willing to learn
- Telling us what you have learnt from your own life experiences
- Telling us what you know that will help you care for a child
- Telling us about your experience of looking after children and seeking out any opportunities that will help you get some experience
- Nominating suitable referees – these should be people you know well who can comment on how you relate to children and can give their view on you as a prospective adoptive parent
- Talking to your family and friends about the support they will offer once you adopt
Adopting outside of the UK
Adopting children outside of the UK is known as Inter-Country Adoption.
We are not currently taking initial enquiries for Inter-Country Adoption; we have set up a contract with ICA who will respond to all initial enquiries. They can be contacted on 0208 447 4753 between 10am and 1pm daily. Please leave a message if you are unable to speak to anyone and they will aim to come back to you the same.
If, following the initial enquiry an Inter-County Adoption assessment is required this will either be carried out by Staffordshire County Council or Adoption Matters on our behalf. Please note that you will be charged a fee by the adoption agency who undertakes your assessment.
When considering applications to adopt from outside the UK, the following priorities apply:
- The prospective adopters are known or related to the child/ren and it appears to be within the child/ren’s best interests
- The prospective adopters are able to meet the ethnicity, identity, language and religious needs of the child from the specific country
- The prospective adopters are able to demonstrate a connection and a good understanding to the culture, for example they have lived or worked within the country or perhaps have relatives living there.
- The prospective adopters have previously adopted from the specific country.
- The prospective adopters can demonstrate a good understanding of the issues involved in Inter-Country Adoption.