The adoption process
If you're thinking of adoption, read through our guide to the process from first steps to legally adopting the child.
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1. Contact us
If you are thinking about applying to adopt, contact us to ask for an information pack.
2. Discuss your plans with one of our social workers
Before or after you have read the information pack, you may want to speak with a social worker about whether or not adoption is right for you. If this is the case, let us know and a social worker will call you to discuss your circumstances and answer your questions.
3. Arrange a visit from a social worker to exchange information
We do not have to visit you at this stage in the process, but many people find it helpful to discuss their particular plans in more detail. We are happy to arrange this and one of our social workers can visit you to find out more about you and your plans and give you more specific information. Remember we are here for you at any stage to answer any questions that you might have. We know that everyone is different and one size doesn’t fit all.
4. Send us your expression of interest
This will start your application or stage 1. If you decide to proceed, we will ask you to complete an expression of interest form. We will undertake a range of checks, including with the police and the local authority where you live. We will also ask you to complete a medical check and we will take up personal references. We aim to complete this stage within two months. During this time, you can start to work on your personal portfolio, to evidence your strengths as potential adoptive parents. Your social worker will advise you on this.
5. Attend an adoption preparation course
Either during stage 1 or stage 2 of the process, we will invite you to attend a residential adoption preparation course in London. You will be attending with other families who wish to adopt. We aim to provide an informal, relaxed and participative atmosphere, to help you explore the skills, knowledge and experience that you can bring to the task of adoptive parenting.
6. Your adoption assessment
This is the start of stage 2 of the process. Your social worker will visit you at home a number of times, to carry out your assessment. She will explore your life story and family history with you. She will also help you think about how children’s past experiences might affect their behaviour and help you identify the skills, strengths and experience you have which could help you meet a child’s needs. Your social worker will write a report about you, called a Prospective Adopters’ Report, which will be shown to the Adoption Panel. We aim to complete this assessment within four months.
7. Attend the SSAFA Adoption Panel
You will be invited to attend the SSAFA Adoption Panel with your social worker. You do not have to attend if you do not want to. The panel members are all people who have experience of adoption or an interest in it, from either a professional or personal perspective. They will look at the report written about you by your social worker and will make a recommendation about whether you are suitable to adopt and about the age(s) and number of child(ren) you could adopt. Their recommendation will then be sent to the SSAFA Agency Decision Maker who will make the final decision to approve you as suitable to adopt.
8. Find the right family and attend Matching Panel
Each child needing adoption has a Family Finding social worker. SSAFA receives information about these children from Family Finding social workers across the UK and we work with them to ‘match’ the children with our adoptive families. When a potential ‘match’ is identified, you will be given every opportunity to ask questions and find out more about the child. If the ‘match’ is favourable, you will go to Matching Panel at the child’s local authority, for the match to be approved.
9. Settle the child into your home
After the ‘match’ has been approved at Matching Panel, plans will be made to arrange for the child’s move to your home. This begins with introductions. You will meet the child in the foster carers’ home and spend time there each day, getting to know the child and taking over aspects of their care. The child will then begin to spend some time in your home. After an agreed period of time, the child is placed with you for adoption. This means that the child moves into your home and you will have responsibility for all aspects of their care.
10. Legally adopt the child
After a period of time, and if all is going well, your social worker will advise you on how to submit your application to adopt the child to the court. There will be an Adoption Hearing and if the Adoption Order is granted, you will be given full parental responsibility for the child. This means that you are now legally the child’s parent. Parenting an adopted child has particular challenges and SSAFA can continue to provide you with support, even after you have legally adopted your child.