If you are familiar with my blog, you will know that we adopted our little boy in 2017. Since then we regularly get messages and questions from followers, friends and fam asking what the adoption process actually entails. So, I thought I would post about each stage in my own words, helping you with what to expect from all the various forms and tasks required.
Obviously every authority/agency has their own way of doing things but from experience and research they all follow the same 2 stage pattern and then onto matching and family finding.
In this post I will cover Stage One.
Great, You’ve decided adoption is for you; first up you are going to want to research as much information as possible about adoption and the adoption process. There’s plenty of sites online and blogs that you can read for advice, but everyone is different and early research can really help form your first stage.
Initially, you need to look into whether you want to adopt via your local authority (like we did) or go through an agency. I’ve always been under the impression that agencies get given the children the local authorities can’t place, as harsh as that sounds and when we initially called our authority they stated that we were more likely to get a child with them as their ‘pools’ tend to be bigger.
For same-sex partners, I believe there are agencies that specialise in placing children within these family types, this could be something that makes you feel more comfortable (just presuming a lot of my website traffic comes from perspective LGBTQ+ adopters). I guess we were just lucky that when we approached the LA we adopted with they were really happy to have us on board as an LGBTQ+ couple. For those that have read the earlier posts, you’ll recall that the first authority we contacted were not so keen on our family type…Their loss entirely!
When you’ve settled on a local authority or agency it’s time to make contact, for us it was simply an online form and we got a call back from a ‘duty social worker’. After a brief discussion on the phone (surrounding family type and expectations) the social worker informed us that they would send some forms. The form known as an ROI was first up. This is used to formally register your interest to become an adoptive parent.
Stage One usually takes around two months. This stage is mostly to get your first round of checks done, these include a criminal record check and some authorities/agencies will send a ‘duty’ social worker to view your house and to inform you of what to expect during the process.
It is then at this stage that you can be turned away, originally when we first applied it was after our first phone call with the duty social worker that they basically turned us away.
We were told that due to our family time we would be less likely to be matched to adopt a child in their ‘small pool’ of children. They advised us to contact a large authority, which we did. Other reasons you could be turned away are: your property does not meet that agency’s expectations for placing children in, that agency requires you to have proof of healthy spending habits. Just because an agency/authority says no doesn’t mean that you can’t go elsewhere though. You can only submit an ROI to one place so that’s why it’s important to shop around before you commit.
Registration of Interest (ROI)
As I mentioned, the Registration of Interest form isn’t the same for everywhere. However, there are things you can expect to overlap from each authority/agency. For us filling out the ROI felt like the first big step in our adoption journey. The overall vibe of the ROI sets out what you can expect to be quizzed on in your assessment such as;
- Information about you
- Who lives at your house with you
- If you have children with an old partner
- Medical information
- If you smoke or drink
- Family member details
- Places where you attended education
- Information on your pets
- Previous addresses
- Mortgage info
- Employment history
- Transport details, such as do you own a car?
- even down to a list of past partners
… they really ask a lot from this initial form.
Pick your References
The ROI will also ask for names and contact details of your references, ROIs usually request 3 references per person, two of which are not allowed to be related to you. Your chosen references can include a maximum of 1 family member per applicant, and two others, these can be friends or colleagues.
Within the ROI pack there’s usually a legal disclaimer which allows the authority/agency to contact your references and send them their questionnaire. This will also notify them that you are adopting, so make sure that whoever you list down is kept in the loop with your plan to adopt…. or else this could be a bit awkward.
Your application form will also ask you to provide your registered doctors details, they need this to request a medical report. For us, we had to pay for doctors’ medicals in order to prove that we were fit to adopt. If there’s any medical issues that arise from this report they will be discussed with you, and sometimes further information will be sought. For us we were fine, the medical cost us around £75.
The police check is simply to confirm that you have no convictions or cautions that would prevent you from being an adoptive parent. Having previous convictions doesn’t necessarily exclude you, but it is important that you share anything that might come up, just be honest and use common sense. Your agency/authority will appreciate your honesty around this topic.
When you’ve submitted your ROI the social worker admin teams get on to contacting your specially selected references, It is really important to select the right people, the people that are going to sing your praises and give you a fair reflection. Don’t be tempted to ask your references to feed in information from yourself into the reference packs, social workers see right through it!
Back to School
Once submitted you will be invited to attend training/preparation groups with other prospective adopters. These will help you explore the benefits and challenges of adoption. Your attendance to these are mandatory and you can’t just sit in the background during the groups, you really do need to get involved. The social workers / trainers that hold these groups feedback information that will help determine whether you will pass Stage 1.
Overall we thought these prep groups were alright, we met some nice people and were able to listen to adoptive parents first hand. The prep days can be seen as quite negative but it’s my opinion that they weed out applicants that have not fully considered all the negative aspects of adoption at this point.
Once all the information is gathered from the ROI, reference checks and your attendance at the prep days, the authority or agency will then make the decision whether you can progress to ‘Stage Two’. If you receive a negative outcome from the Stage One decision the authority/agency must provide you with a written explanation as to why you’ve not been successful.
It was at this point in our journey where we took a break, if you wish you can take a break between Stage One and Stage Two of the adoption process. We did it in order to move house as although the social worker approved us for two children in the tiniest of houses we felt it necessary to move into a home where we can picture expanding our family! So we used this time wisely to sell and buy a new house.
If you choose to take a break you are allowed up to six months. Some authorities/ agencies may suggest taking this time in order to put things in place to make you successful in Stage Two.
And that is Stage One! If you have any questions ask me in the comments below or drop me a message on my insta @the.wild.dad