This page is to help understand some of the milestones in the process which I may skip over in my posts.
It is not definitive, and is my take on those milestones, based on my experience and memory (bearing in mind that some of these came almost 2 years ago for us!).
You can find a summary of the process here: http://www.familiesthatlast.org.uk/theprocess and here: http://www.first4adoption.org.uk/the-adoption-process/
Assuming you’re going down the traditional route, once you’ve been approved you’ll see profiles of children your social worker thinks might be a good match for you. Once you’ve decided then there’re various meetings and fact finding sessions before you go to matching panel.
After approval there you have placement, where you gradually get to know your child before they ultimately come to live with you.
A chance to meet representatives from the local authority or agency you are interested in.
At these events you’re likely to be given a presentation explaining the adoption process, a chance to find out more from an adopter, and the opportunity to discuss further with the social workers.
Declaration of interest
A form giving a bit of information about you so that a decision can be made as to whether to visit you in your home in order to explore adoption further.
Nothing too onerous at this stage!
Initial visit and fact find – for them to learn a bit about you. It also gives you a chance to find out about the people who will be helping you through the process, as well as what that process will involve.
There are no right and wrong answers – everyone adopts for different reasons, and everyone’s circumstances are different. The most important thing is to be honest throughout the process – with each other, with yourself and with the social workers. Be enthusiastic, be as open as you can with a complete stranger, and most importantly of all, be yourselves.
Stage 1 – background checks
The background checks – make sure you dig out all (yes, every single one) of your past addresses, employers, significant relationships and significant events in your life. Not a stone is left unturned as they make sure that you can be deemed suitable to proceed to the next stage.
It is at this stage that you’ll need to have a medical – make sure you get it booked in straight away since it can take time to get an appointment with your doctor (we had to have double appointments to give time to complete the paperwork).
Each applicant will also need to choose their referees – usually a family member plus two others. Try to think of people who have known you for a number of years and who will have an idea of how you will be as a parent. If you’ve any experience with adoption through your family or friends, then they might be a good bet to understand how you’ll cope.
Whilst they do the various checks you get some training, where you get to meet others at the same stage as you and learn a lot about the process, the kids and the families they come from. There’s some really powerful stuff in there!
Stage 2 – home study and approval panel
If you pass stage 1, you’ll need to fill in a massive questionnaire about yourselves and your experiences – this forms the basis of the conversations you’ll have with your social worker as part of the home study. It can be a really intense time (I cried pretty much every session!), and you learn a lot about yourself and how your experiences relate to the children you might adopt. You also have another training course (possibly with people you met on the first one).
At the end of stage 2 you go to approval panel – your social worker will go in and answer questions, then you go and answer a couple of questions (which you’ll be pre-warned about). Assuming all is OK (it should be since your social worker wouldn’t put you forward for panel if they didn’t think you’d be approved).
Stage 3 – matching and matching panel
Once you have been approved as adopters you will start looking at profiles of children to decide which might be the best fit for you.
Once you’ve found a profile you’re interested in, your social worker will discuss with their social worker.
Following meetings with their social worker(s) and foster carers, you will ultimately be “matched” with the child(ren), then go to another panel to be approved.
You now finally get to meet your little one(s)!
Usually 7-21 days, you’ll build up the time you spend with the little one(s) bit by bit – the first half in and around their foster carers home and the second half in your home.
You also get to meet the professionals involved in their lives so far e.g. medical advisers and teachers.
At the end of introductions they will be placed with you and you’re flying solo.
Adoption order/celebration hearing
After the child(ren) have been placed with you for 10 weeks, you can apply for the adoption order – the legal document that makes them yours. That will be decided on in a court hearing you’re unlikely to attend (since birth parents will have the chance to be present).
Your day in court comes with the celebration hearing – a few weeks after the adoption order has been granted. It is what it says – a time for family and friends to come together in a ceremony that is pretty informal and just rounds off the whole process.