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The adoption process

Schoolchildren with balloon

Adoption is a process. From the moment you first consider adopting you are on a journey to discover if adoption is right for you and what kind of parent you might be.

That journey is made together with the social workers and other staff at an adoption agency. The job of an adoption agency is to make sure that potential adopters are the best possible parents for the children who need homes.

If you are interested in adopting, please Contact us.

Pre-assessment information stage

(This is the initial information gathering bit and has no time limit).

Step 1 Express an interest informally

If after reading our information pack you would like to proceed please return the Initial Expression of Interest form that is included in the pack.

Step 2 Initial visit

After receiving the Initial Expression of Interest form we will then contact you to make an appointment to visit you at your home. This can be done within 10 working days or you can arrange to have your visit at a later date if that works better for you. At this visit we hope to provide you with lots of useful information and answer your questions about adoption.

Step 3 Register your interest

Following the visit if you would like to proceed and one of our management team decide that we can take you forward at this time, we will help you to complete forms to show your interest and agree a plan for Stage One. Here we will need to take some details in order to conduct the checks needed in stage one.

Leading a group session

Stage one

(This stage is adopter-led and should take no longer than 2 months to complete).

At this point we will need to take up your references and checks, including medicals and DBS checks (a system of checking if you have any criminal convictions). These will all need to be received and looked at before you can progress on to Stage Two.

Step 4 Preparation group sessions

We will also invite you to attend adoption preparation sessions which are usually run over three days. We run these groups regularly, in collaboration with our neighbouring local authorities, and can help you access preparation groups run by other organisations if necessary to avoid delay.

They will give you a lot more detail about the important issues involved in adoption, the chance to meet people who have already adopted and to get to know other people who, like you, are interested in adopting. We will also provide you with additional resources to help you gather relevant information and begin to reflect on what you have to offer.

Stage two

(This is the home study portion of your assessment and should take no longer than 4 months to complete).

Once Stage One is completed, and if you would like to proceed to Stage Two, please confirm this with us and we will make a decision about your suitability to continue.

At this point you can choose to pause your process for up to 6 months. We know from experience that adopters sometimes need to take a breather and let all the information sink in properly before their home study assessment starts. Just let us know if you want some time.

Step 5 Prospective adopter's report (home study)

At this stage you will be allocated an adoption social worker who will complete the Stage Two Agreement with you to help plan your home study assessment.

Your social worker will usually make 6-8 visits to your home and ask detailed questions about your own family background, your childhood and your present circumstances. If you are a couple, we will want to see you together and individually. If you have other children in your family (e.g.your birth child or an adopted child) we will also need to meet with and talk to them.

Your social worker will compile a Prospective Adopter's Report, profiling you and what you can offer a child/children, in order to justify their recommendation about your suitability to adopt. You will also be asked to make your own contributions to the report, though you will be guided and supported to do this.

You will have the opportunity to see the PAR, except for the personal references, and to add your comments before the next step.

Step 6 The Adoption Panel

The PAR goes forward to an Adoption Panel which is made up of social workers, other professionals and independent people, including adopted adults and people who have adopted. Your social worker will attend the panel to answer any questions from panel members. Although it is not compulsory, we encourage you to attend and contribute to the discussions too. Once the panel have considered the report they will recommend whether or not you should be approved as an adoptive parent. Within a week of receiving the panel's recommendation the agency decision maker will write to you to confirm the decision.

After approval

Step 7 Matching

Once you are approved, we will begin to look for suitable children waiting for adoption. We will send you an approved adopters' pack which will outline the next stage of the procedure. You will be asked to sign a Matching Plan (Agreement) which outlines both yours and the agency's roles and responsibilities. Once a child or children have been identified whose needs you may be able to meet, you will be given full information about their background.

Step 8 Placement

If it is decided by you and the social workers that the match is right, there will be a second Adoption Panel meeting where the suitability of the match will be considered.

After a gradual period of introduction, your adoptive child or children will come to live with you and become part of your new family.

Remember, you are not on your own now - we will be able to offer you support and advice after placement and will be responsible for keeping in touch with you and your family until the adoption is finalised.

Step 9 The Adoption Order

When your adoptive child has successfully settled down in your family and if everyone, including the child's social worker, agrees, you will be able to apply to the court for an Adoption Order to be made. Once the order is made, all rights and responsibilities originally held by the birth parents transfer to you.

After adoption

Step 10 Adoption Support

The Adoption & Children Act 2002 recognises that Adoption Support may be a lifelong requirement. You may be able to access services as and when you need them, (according to local provision) and following an assessment of your needs.

You can ask for support to help you maintain any contact arrangements that were agreed, for example the annual letter adopters usually write to birth parents or in-person contact with your child's other siblings.

How do I find out about inter-country adoption?

Bury Children's Services works in partnership with the Inter-Country Adoption Centre in order to provide a service to people who wish to adopt a child from abroad.

The Inter-Country Adoption Centre will provide information, advice and counselling to anyone who wishes to find out more about adopting a child from another country. They are also accredited by the Department of Education to carry out the required Home Study for which they will charge a fee.

A government website which can provide further information about this subject can be accessed at: - Adoption, fostering and surrogacy, and the Inter-Country Adoption Centre can be contacted at: IAC - The Centre for Adoption, Telephone: 0208 447 4753.