The adoption journey
Deciding to become an adoptive parent is the first step on an exciting and life-changing journey.
The next step is to get in touch for a chat with our social workers.
We will telephone you at a convenient time to talk to you about adoption and answer any questions you may have.
Once you are ready to start the adoption journey, we will arrange with you an information sharing virtual meeting with a social worker. If you are ready to begin, you will be asked to complete a Registration of Interest Form which is an application to enter the first stage of the process to become an adoptive parent.
The assessment process is in two stages and it can take as little as six months. The time it takes for each application to be completed can vary depending on individual circumstances and you can choose a slower pace if you wish.
Stage One - Checks and preparation (approx. 2 months)
During stage one, we will do some essential paperwork and checks, including requests for references from family and friends, the local authority, and from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
You will need to undertake a health assessment with your GP, which is also reviewed by our agency medical adviser.
You will be asked to attend some preparation sessions (which are currently held virtually) for you to gain a realistic insight about what it takes to become an adoptive parent. You will also be encouraged to read and complete e-learning about the needs of adopted children,
Based on the information gathered during this stage, we will talk with you about whether you are suitable to progress to stage two.
Stage Two - Full assessment (approx. 4 months)
During stage two, we will carry out further checks, including a health and safety assessment of your home, and interviews with personal referees.
You will complete further preparation and continue with self-study. We will support you to develop the confidence and skills you need to be an adoptive parent., you will have the opportunity to join a virtual group, with others on the adoption journey.
Your social worker will complete a series of home visits to get to know you and your family. These will be a mix of virtual, and face-to-face meetings. This will be a chance to talk with you about your own childhood experiences, current circumstances, motivation for adopting, experience of children, your understanding of the needs of adopted children and the types of children you feel able to consider adopting.
Information gathered during this stage is used to complete a Prospective Adopters Report which is presented to the Adoption Panel. It is shared with you for your comments and contribution. You are also encouraged to attend the Panel with your social worker if you wish, adoption panels are currently held as virtual meetings, using Teams.
The Panel makes a recommendation to a Senior Manager, known as the Agency Decision Maker, who, based on the all the information gathered throughout the process, will make a decision about whether you are suitable to become an adoptive parent
AEM agency decision makers are all senior managers in the partner Local Authorities.
Matching & placement
If your application is approved, we will begin the process of finding the right child or children for you. The search can take time and you may need to consider a number of children before everyone is happy that they are right for your family. We will offer you full information about every child you consider, including their health, education and any specific support needs.
When a match is proposed, a report is prepared to present to the adoption panel and you are invited to attend with your social worker, all meetings are currently virtual. The adoption panel then makes a recommendation to the agency decision maker who has the final say on approving the match.
Once approved, you can begin the process of getting to know each other. This is usually by visiting the child in their home, for increasing periods of time, before the child visits your home, for increasing periods of time, so you can learn all about each other and develop a bond before the child moves in to your home. Depending on the age of children this could be over a few days, or a number of weeks. After moving in, we will continue to support you with regular visits or calls to help ensure everyone settles into your new family life.
After a minimum of 10 weeks of living as a family and when you feel ready to take on full parental responsibility, you can apply for an adoption order to become the child’s legal parent. Once the Adoption Order is granted it cannot be reversed or challenged. You will receive an adoption certificate and a new birth certificate, which will replace the child’s original birth certificate.
The legal part of the adoption journey ends here but you will be at just the start of a new life together. Support to families continues to be available at any time, and we encourage you to access it.