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Sarah Worth from Adoption Counts answers five adoption FAQs

Thinking about adopting? You probably have a head full of questions. You’re not alone. It’s a big step but a rewarding one and it’s only right that you should try and find out as much as possible about the process.

Adoption Counts are able to offer all the support you need, whether offering you a friendly chat to find out more about adoption or helping your new family through life’s ups and downs.

Let’s start with the friendly chat. We sat down with Sarah Worth, Recruitment and Assessment Manager Social Worker from Adoption Counts to go over five adoption FAQs.

What is adoption and what does the process involve?

Adoption is designed to find permanent, loving homes for children who cannot be raised by their birth families. If initial criteria are met - prospective adopters embark on a comprehensive assessment process, often referred to as Stage One, involving background checks, medical examinations, and references. This is followed by Stage Two, a more intensive assessment involving home visits, interviews, and training sessions to prepare the prospective adopters for the challenges of adoption.

Once approved, adopters are matched with a child, considering the child’s needs and the adopters’ capabilities. This matching process is crucial and involves detailed discussions with social workers and often meeting the child’s foster carers. After a successful match, the child is placed with the adoptive family, and a period of supervised placement follows to ensure a smooth transition into a new family life.

The final step is the legal adoption order, granted by the court, which transfers parental rights and responsibilities to the adoptive parents. Post-adoption support is available to help families navigate any challenges and ensure a successful transition for both the child and the new family.

What training do you get when you adopt?

There is lots of training available.

Initially we do group training where you prepare to be an adopter and that’s a three day course. This is mandatory.

We have various top-up training sessions. For example, we have a training session on adopting siblings. We have a training session on what trauma means. We have a training session on what contact with the birth family involves.

We have specific groups such as play therapy. Once you’ve adopted your child, if it’s identified that you and your child would be supported by learning through play therapy, you can go on various courses.

We can access adoption support clinics with our therapeutic social workers and our adoption psychologists. We can also have an assessment of need if it’s required and that will also identify any training that may be appropriate for families.

There are also universal services that families can feed into as well as adoption services.

What sort of checks are part of the adoption process?

The DBS check, medical checks, ex-partner checks, employment checks or voluntary work checks, if you’ve had counselling we might ask for a counselling reference, overseas checks, armed forces checks if you’ve served in the army, navy or air force and local authority checks to see if you’re known to that authority for any reason.

Prospective adopters worry about us contacting ex-partners but it’s important for us to understand the relationships that have shaped you. We do understand the relationships you have now may be very different to relationships you have had in the past. If you think your ex is going to tarnish your reputation, that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to adopt. We discuss any issues as part of a transparent process.

Who do you contact for references?

You get to put three individuals or couples forward. We always say we’d like a mix of one family member and then, if you’re a couple, a friend of each of the adopters. If you’re a single adopter, two friends. It has to be someone that knows you really well. It should be somebody who’s positively supporting you but is able to say where your difficulties might be because we need transparency and honesty so that we can build the right support package around the adopter.

What are the main barriers to adopting a child?

We prefer to rule people in rather than rule people out. We’d always say, if people are wanting to go on an adoption journey and they’re uncertain about whether or not they’d be accepted, come and have a chat with us, talk to us if you’re in doubt. Where we would categorically say no are convictions for specific offences, for example any past offences against children or other serious offences.

We do have adopters who’ve had convictions and they’ve talked to us and been able to go on to adopt. A criminal record is not necessarily a barrier to adopting.

Unfortunately, some adults who want to adopt haven’t had an easy life themselves, some of them have had support to work through the challenges whilst others haven’t worked through their difficulties and they may never be able to work through them. We have to be confident adopters are able to support a child that may have experienced trauma so being as ready as possible is fundamental to the process.

It is also important to recognise that prospective adopters who have had challenging lives can really support a child because of their own experiences and that’s an opportunity for them to draw upon some of those difficult experiences and use them to positively impact a child’s life.

There may be adopters who aren’t adoption ready. They might need to move house to accommodate a growing family. For example they might need to work on their health, whether that be mental or physical. Following any initial advice we have given we can build in a review and if they’ve been able to work on their health, we could take them through to the next stage.

The other thing we say is, if you’re dishonest and not able to work truthfully with professionals or if you refuse to take advice to support your progress, then the process isn’t going to work for you.

Now over to Sarah for the final words…

I do believe there are a whole host of potential adopters out there who we haven’t yet reached and who could provide a really safe, supportive and fun environment for our children.

If you can provide a home for a child please just talk to us and explore anything you’re uncertain about. Contact us via our website and fill in a information form.

To see more of Sarah’s answers about other FAQs, see our article here.