We know that adoption is a big decision. In Wales we hope to make the process towards being approved as an adoptive parent and becoming a new family as smooth as possible.
The adoption process can be very rewarding, but it can also have its challenges. That’s why your first step is to find an adoption agency that feels right for you. Social Workers in adoption are generally very experienced and will be able to answer any questions or concerns you might have.
We recommend reading and doing your research about adoption beforehand, so you know what to expect as you start your adoption journey. This website is full of information and there are a number of agencies you can call for advice and further details.
The first step is to make an enquiry to an agency who will then provide you with detailed written information and offer you an initial meeting where it would be possible to discuss what is involved and answer any questions you may have. This will happen within 10 working days of your enquiry and can take place at your home, in one of our offices or via the telephone. There may also be an opportunity to attend an information event with other people who are interested in adopting.
After your initial interview, you will be offered a Registration of Interest form to complete and return, so the agency can begin the assessment of you as an adopter.
In rare cases there may be a reason why your application can’t be accepted. If this happens you will know why and in most cases you will be told what steps you may need to take in order to be considered as an adopter in future.
When your Registration of Interest is accepted, the agency will expect you to be available to start your assessment as soon as possible. This means that if you need to make changes, for example to your home or workplace, they might advise you to do this before you apply.
Once your Registration of Interest is accepted, you will be allocated a Social Worker who will work with you and get to know what your strengths as an adopter are likely to be.
For best practice guidance for staff re Initial Enquiries – Initial Enquiries Good Practice Guidelines
Stage 1: Checks and References
This first stage will begin the process of the agency taking up statutory checks and references with the authorities as well as people you know. This will take 2 months.
The agency will contact the Disclosure and Barring Service, the police, your local authority, and your employers (where appropriate). You will be asked to supply us with the details of at least 3 people who can comment on your suitability to adopt and ask you to take a medical which will be shared with the agency Medical Adviser.
Pre-adoption preparation training
Training is provided by many agencies during Stage 1 and is designed to support you in thinking about exactly what is involved in adopting the children in care who need adoptive families. The agency will expect you to attend all of the training and if you are a couple there will be an expectation that both attend. This is a good opportunity to learn more about the children who need a family as well as the challenges and rewards ahead. The group is informal and will also provide you with a chance to meet with other prospective adopters who are in the same position as you. They will 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 have already adopted children.
The end of Stage 1
Once the agency has collected all this information and discussed your application with you, they will make a decision on whether to proceed to Stage 2. Your social worker will let you know the agency’s decision verbally and in writing. The two-stage process has been designed to ensure that those who enter Stage 2 are in a position to move forward with their application and are likely to be approved as adopters for the kinds of children needing families.
Stage 2: Getting to know you better
In this stage your social worker will visit you at home and talk through with you why you want to adopt, the kinds of children you would best be able to care for and your overall strengths and suitability. They will also consider whether you have any support needs. You will talk about your past, including your experience of growing up as well as how you have dealt with challenges or any stressful events in your life.
If you have had a long term relationship before or if you have cared for children from a previous relationship your social worker will discuss this with you and, with your consent, may want to speak to your previous partner. Please be assured this will not happen if it was likely to cause you, your family or your ex-partner any distress.
If you have children already, either living with you or living elsewhere they will also need to be interviewed or, depending on their age, seen with you. This may all seem quite daunting but your social worker will explain all this to you and make sure every task is undertaken with sensitivity.
We recognise that there is a lot to think about when applying to adopt and going through the process of assessment and approval. The agency you decide to work with will provide you with information and training that will support you to become adoptive parents. They will also ask you to provide them with information about yourself and to think about some of the issues that you may need or want to explore in more depth. Attached is a resource pack which includes some exercises that might assist you to begin to think about some of these things. The pack is designed for you to use as much or as little as you want at this stage and the agency you choose may also use some of the exercises included or others that are similar. Link
Once the assessment is completed, your social worker will write a report that will outline your strengths as an adopter and will present this to an independent Adoption Panel. The panel is made up of experienced adopters as well as people who have knowledge of relevant areas of adoption and a medical adviser.
They will consider all the information gathered during the assessment process and make a recommendation on your suitability to be an adoptive parent to the agency’s decision maker. You will see the report, have the opportunity to comment on it and to attend the panel.
Once you are approved to adopt, we will begin the search for a child whose needs you can meet. Sometimes your agency will already have a child in mind for you. This is great as it will make the matching process much shorter for you and will avoid unnecessary delay for a child.
Children may be found in a number of ways:
If you are adopting through a region they will consider all of the children waiting in that region
Through the Adoption Register Wales. During the assessment process you will be encouraged to place your details on the register once you are approved so that all agencies across Wales will know when you are available. Your social worker will explain how this works and there is information on this website to assist you to do this
By attending an Adoption Activity Day – these are held on annual basis in Wales and in the UK and are an opportunity to gain more information about the children who are waiting for a family
Through local, regional or national Exchange events where your details and those of children are shared with others across Wales in a safe and confidential environment
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 will 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 the child and feel ready to proceed the adoption agency will present the match to the adoption panel.
The waiting is now over and you will get to meet your child for the first time. Before children join their new family, this is a time for adopter/s and children to get to know each other through a programme of introductory visits. When you are both ready they will move from their foster family to join your family.
Once your child or children move in there is a period of living together, during which the agency will continue to visit and support you to get to know one another better.
After a minimum of 10 weeks, you can make the adoption legal and apply to the court for an Adoption Order. You social worker and the child’s social worker can help you to decide when is the right time to apply to the court. Once the court grants an Adoption Order all legal parental responsibility transfers to you and the child will then take your surname.
Building your future
The coming weeks and months will be extremely exciting but also challenging, sometimes in unexpected ways. Social workers will therefore continue to be available to provide a helping hand. They will be able to share a wide range of practical support strategies as well as emotional support to all adoptive families for as long as they need it.
For the majority of children in Wales, when they are first removed from their birth family either just before or at the start of care proceedings, they are either placed with family members or in a short-term foster placement with approved foster carers. If the care plan for adoption is accepted by the court, then the foster carer sees the child through their transition to their adoptive placement. With WEP, the foster carers who care for the child are also approved prospective adoptive parents. They act as any foster carer, caring for the child, facilitating contact with birth family and taking part in the child’s looked after reviews. If the care plan is for reunification or placement with family, then they help the child with the transition to their birth family. If the care plan is for adoption, the child remains with the WEP carers who can then apply to become their adoptive parents.
The huge benefit for the child is, if the care plan becomes adoption, they do not have the trauma of the transition from foster placement to adoptive placement and having to leave the people with whom they have developed attachments.
Want to know more about WEP?
WEP Carer’s: Laura and Jonny’s Story.
‘there was uncertainty, but we really valued the time with our son early on, experiencing his firsts and forming a bond…….its was of great value for our son and his attachments within our family’
In this video you will hear from parents, Laura and Jonny, who came forward to grow their family through adoption but choose to do this via the route of Welsh Early Permanence. As some of the first carers in Wales to be approved under the WEP Framework, Laura and Jonny demonstrated a strong commitment to caring for their son whilst decisions were being made about his future. In this video they share their journey through the fostering and adoption process and provide their personal insights into the positives and the challenges WEP brought for them and their family.
Becoming a WEP carer is not for all adopters but if it is something you want to explore further your agency can sign you up to one of our ‘Is Welsh Early Permanence right for you?’ webinars, where you will have a chance to look in more detail at the role of the WEP carer.