Getting Started

The adoption process can be very rewarding, but it also has its challenges. That’s why your first step is to find an adoption agency that’s right for you. 

Before you make a decision, you can contact different agencies to ask questions and get a feel for how they work. You can also go to one of their information events or ask them to visit you at home. 

Once you’ve learnt about an agency’s adoption process and the children who are currently waiting for an adoptive family, you can agree to move forward with your application.

Your agency will try and prepare you for your adoption journey by inviting you to an adoption preparation group. It’s a great opportunity for you to learn more about the children who need a family, as well as the challenges and rewards ahead.

The group will also give you the chance to meet other adopters who are in a similar position to you. They’ll be at the same stage in the process, so you can share your experience and help each other. You will also get to meet people who already have adopted children.

Assessment and checks

The idea of an assessment might be daunting, but your social worker will spend time getting to know you and your family well. Your social worker will guide you through your assessment and answer any questions you may have. 

As part of the adoption process, you and anyone in your household aged 18 and over will go through a number of checks, including a Disclosure and Barring Service application, a medical by your GP, at least 3 references from people who know you well, including a family member.

Your social worker will make sure that you are fully informed and prepared for the challenges ahead. They’ll be there to remind you about the rewards of adoption too. 

In your assessment, they will ask you about your past, including your experience of growing up. You will also discuss how you’ve dealt with stressful events in your life. This part of the process is about assessing your ability to reflect on past experiences.   

You may have had a long-term relationship before or children from a previous relationship. Your social worker will talk to you about this part of your life and with your consent your agency may wish to speak with previous partners.  If you have children from a previous relationship the social worker may also need to speak with them. 

This might seem intimidating, but your social worker will discuss the process with and make sure it is done with sensitivity.

All families need support from time to time. Your social worker will ask about your support network to make sure that you have family and friends on hand when you need some help.   

Once your adoption agency has got all the information it needs, they will write a report and present it to an adoption panel. You can read and comment on the report before it is submitted. The whole assessment process should take no longer than six months.

The adoption panel

The adoption panel is made up of at least five people, including an independent chairperson, social worker, and other independent members who have personal experience of adoption. Every adoption panel also receives advice from an adoption agency advisor, a medical advisor and a legal advisor.

You will be invited to attend the adoption panel and your social worker will make sure you know what to expect. The adoption panel will carefully review your assessment report and may ask you some further questions. The chairperson will ask you to wait with your social worker while the panel makes its recommendation about your suitability to adopt. The chairperson will tell you the adoption panel's recommendation immediately.

The panel will pass their recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker, who will make the decision whether you are suitable to adopt a child.

Matching you with a child

The most exciting part of the process is finding the right child or children for you. Sometimes your agency will have children in mind for you. This is great, because it can make the matching process shorter for you and help the child avoid unwanted delays. 

However, there may be no suitable children with your agency. If so, you have the opportunity to put your details on the Welsh Adoption Register, a comprehensive register of all children in Wales who need an adoptive family.

When your agency identifies a child who they think is suitable for you, your social worker will exchange information with the child’s social worker. This is your chance to find out more about the child. You’ll see a video or photos of them in their foster home and get to meet key people in their life, such as their current foster carer.

Once you have all the information about a child, your adoption agency presents the match to the adoption panel.

Meeting your child

This is a very exciting and important moment, because the waiting is over and you meet your adopted child or children for the first time. 

You will go through a series of ‘introduction’ meetings to help you get to know each other. When you are both ready, they will move from their foster family to join your family. 

The legal process

our social worker will continue to visit until an Adoption Order is made. In this initial period, you and your adopted child or children will still be learning all about each other and adjusting to family life together. You can apply for an Adoption Order 10 weeks after your child has joined your family. Your social worker and the child's social worker can help you decide when is the right time to apply to court. 

When a court grants an Adoption Order, all legal parental responsibility transfers to you and the child takes your surname. 

Taking the next step

View the FAQs about adoption Frequently asked questions
Speak to an adoption advisor Find your nearest adoption agency

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