Once you are approved as adopters, it’s time to begin finding the right child or children to join your family.
It is important to consider not only your needs, but equally those of the children looking for families, so this means trying to get the best match between everyone’s needs.
Local Authorities have the responsibility for finding adoptive parents for the children in their care, but they are also often looking for parents outside their geographical area, especially if moving away from their birth family is in the best interests of the child. ARC Adoption North East work with local authorities throughout the country to find the child(ren) who would benefit most from being cared for by you and your family.
Adoption Activity Days
Some local authorities and Independent Adoption Agencies will arrange events to give you an opportunity to find out more about children they have waiting for families or to actually spend time with some of the children who need placements and engage with them in a fun environment. Your adoption social worker will support you in attending these adoption activity days if you wish and keep you informed about which agencies are holding such events.
The National Adoption Register
If you are in agreement we will place your information on the National Adoption Register as soon as you are formally approved as an adopter. This register holds information on children waiting to be adopted throughout England and Wales and approved prospective adopters who are available and able to meet the needs of different children.
Children Who Wait is a magazine published by Adoption UK which contains profiles of children from all over the country who are looking for adoptive parents. You may need to be an approved prospective adopter to access all the features on their websites, but the magazines are a helpful way to find out about children who need adoptive parents from around the UK. There is also an online service where you may find videos and additional information on the children.
The Decision Making Process
We will discuss any potential children with you and support you in deciding whether or not to follow up a potential match. If there are possible children you want to explore further then your adoption social worker and the child’s social worker will exchange more detailed information. You will then have the opportunity to discuss this information in detail with the two social workers before any decision is made.
At this stage it may be possible to meet with the child’s foster parent but it is still unlikely that you will meet the child until after the match is approved at the matching Panel. However it is now fairly normal practice that videos of the children in their foster homes will be shown to you during this exploratory phase. A life appreciation event may take place where you meet with your social worker, the child’s social worker, their foster parents, teachers and anyone else significantly involved in the child’s care.
Once everyone is in agreement that a suitable child has been identified we will produce an Adoption Placement Report for the child’s agency.
The Matching Panel
The adoption panel members of the child’s agency will read through all the information in the adoption placement report and your Prospective Adopter’s Report to consider the match. Part of the report is made up of an adoption support plan, which outlines the support which will be provided for you and the adopted child during the early stages as you get to know each other. You are generally invited to attend the panel considering the match and your adoption social worker will support you through this.
If the panel approves the match, the child’s adoption agency decision maker then makes the final decision about whether the match should go ahead.
Once the right child or children have been found for your family and the final decision to match is approved, then an adoption placement planning meeting is held. This meeting plans out in detail the introductions which will take place between you and your child(ren) so you can begin to get to know each other the actual detail of the introductions will be set out in the Adoption Placement Plan. This plan outlines all the support you will receive and when reviews of the placement will take place. It is there to make sure that you feel supported and the child is cared for as you go through this major change in your lives. Once everything is agreed, your child(ren) can come home to live with you.
If the initial meetings between you, the child(ren) and their foster parent have gone well then the child will come and visit you in your home. These meetings will be built up over time and at a pace that is right for the child(ren) and you before they actually move in with you.
After all of the introductions have taken place you are ready for the child to move in with you. Before this finally happens there will be a further planning meeting, this meeting will review how the introductions have gone and how you are feeling about moving forward and a decision will be made about whether it is right to continue with the proposed placement date.