Adoption is a way of providing a new family for a child when living within their own family is no longer possible.
Adoption is also a legal process, whereby the granting of an Adoption Order by a court, ends a child's legal relationship with their birth parents and transfers parental responsibility to the adoptive parents. The child becomes a full member of their adoptive family, as if they were born to them. An Adoption Order cannot be reversed.
Our children: Children of various ages and needs, who are no longer able to live with their birth families need adoption and the early experiences of these children is explored in our regularly held Information Evenings for people interested in adoption. We would be particularly interested to hear from you if you would consider adopting child/children who usually wait longest - those who may have medical and developmental issues or learning difficulties; sibling groups of two or three and children over the age of four years.
In 2015/16, 82 children were adopted through the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Adoption service.
Our adopters: People choose to adopt for many different reasons. Some arrive at adoption following experiences of infertility and, for some, adoption is their first choice for starting or extending their family.
People who adopt a child can be:
- Single, married, or in a relationship. Your sexuality is irrelevant. The main thing is that your home life is stable.
- 21 years or older. Each application is considered on its merits and applications are welcome from people of all ages, as long as you are over 21 years old.
- Home owners or renting. You simply need to demonstrate you have the space and security to care for children as they grow up.
- Doing all kinds of jobs. You don’t need to earn a specific amount of money, but you need to show that becoming an adopter would not place you in financial difficulties.
Children who wait to be adopted have had challenging start to life and will have experienced some form of loss by being taken into care. That’s why people who adopt a child need to:
- Be committed. The assessment process to become an adopter is rigorous, so you will need to be sure that adoption is the right thing for you. Your social worker will help you consider the issues and support you throughout.
- Have realistic expectations. Some experience in caring for children is beneficial.
- Be energetic. You must show you can invest time and energy in developing your relationship with your adopted child.
- Be aware. You must be aware that, while adopting a child is very rewarding, it can also be challenging. You will need to accept that an adoptive child has a past and that it is very important for you to support them to understand their history and birth family.
- Be empathetic. Most children who are adopted today will retain some links with their birth family, either through an annual letter or, occasionally, face to face contact (eg when brothers and sisters are separated). Some contact may also continue with their foster family if this is important for the child.
- Have good support from family and friends.
- Have good sense of humour.
While undoubtedly challenging, becoming an adoptive parent is life changing, hugely rewarding and provides children with stability, security and love.
Steps to Adoption
The following steps are a brief guide to the process of becoming approved as an adopter by the Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Adoption Collaborative.
Step 1: Initial enquiry
If you require information in relation to adopting a child or wish to pursue your interest, you can request an Information Pack by contacting the Adoption Collaborative on 0800 023 4064 or by clicking on the enquire/contact us button. If after receiving the information pack you have some further questions you are always welcome to call for a chat with a social worker.
Should you wish to continue following receipt of your pack, you will be invited to attend an Adoption Information Evening.
Step 2: Adoption Information Evening
This is a meeting where prospective adopters are provided with more information about the adoption process and the needs of the children who require permanent families. The evening is facilitated by experienced adoption social workers, who after giving a short presentation are on hand to answer any questions you may have. At the end of the evening we provide you with a pack of information that gives greater detail on the most common areas of need that our children experience. We ask that you take this pack home, read it through and consider some of the other reading material we suggest before contacting us for an initial visit.
Step 3: Initial Visit
If you decide to proceed to an initial visit, a social worker from the Adoption team will visit you at home to discuss your individual circumstances and reasons for wishing to adopt. During the visit you will be asked about any criminal convictions and your health. If you advise us that you have a previous criminal conviction we will request a DBS check to be undertaken at this point in the process. In some cases we may also suggest a health assessment is carried out if you tell us about any health issues which may affect your ability to care for a child. This health assessment is then reviewed by the medical advisor for their advice. A short report is prepared following the visit to enable the Collaborative to decide whether you should progress to the next stage of the process. Sometimes we may feel that you are not ready to progress to the next stage and will provide you with feedback and advice.
Step 4: Training Course - Preparing to Adopt
Before we can accept an application you will be expected to attend our preparation training course. This course is run over 3 days and is facilitated by an experienced trainer in the field of adoption. The course provides a further opportunity to meet with other prospective adopters, to learn about some of the experiences of children requiring adoption and the challenges you may face as an adoptive parent. These courses are run regularly throughout the year so if you are unable to attend the next available course we will automatically invite you to another one.
Step 5: Application & Pre-approval checks
Following the Preparing to Adopt course we provide you with an application form and a number of forms for a variety of checks. As part of the application process you will be required to consent to a DBS check (if you haven’t already completed one with us). We also undertake checks of local authority areas in which you have lived since adulthood and ask you to provide names of persons who can provide you with a reference. You will also need to have a medical with your GP which will be forwarded to the agency’s Medical Adviser for advice on any medical issues.
Step 6: Information Evening on the Assessment Process
We invite you and those who were on the same Preparing to Adopt training course to attend a further evening. The evening is split into two sections. During the first part of the evening we will talk you through the assessment process, explaining what areas the assessment will cover and providing you with homework to get started. We will also let you know who your allocated social worker is, and they are often in attendance at these evenings in order for you to meet with them and arrange your first visit. The second part of the evening is an opportunity for you to meet an approved adopter who has children placed with them. The adopter will tell you about their experience and you are encouraged to ask them questions.
Step 7: Assessment
Your allocated social worker will visit you on a few occasions to get to know you and to provide a detailed report of all aspects of your life. The first visit they complete will involve looking through an assessment plan, which will provide you with information on the areas that will be covered during the rest of the visits. Health and Safety Checklists are completed including assessments of any pets you may have.
We encourage applicants to contribute to the completion of the assessment report and you will frequently be provided with homework to undertake, which will reflect your understanding of adoption and the challenges ahead. We also ask you to provide comments on the final report for presentation to the Adoption Panel.
Step 8: Approval
The completed assessment report, including details of checks and references will be presented to the Adoption Panel by your social worker. The Panel is made up of a range of people who have experience of adoption both professionally and personally.
We acknowledge that the information gathered is of a sensitive and confidential nature. Panel members and social workers are required to maintain confidentiality at all times. You will be given the opportunity to attend the Panel meeting.
The Adoption Panel recommends the approval of adopters and the Agency Decision Maker in the local authority in which you reside (usually the Head of Children’s Services) makes the final decision. Should the Panel not be in a position to recommend your approval there are procedures in place to enable you to appeal the decision.
Step 9: Matching & Placement
Following your approval we would seek to match you with the most suitable child or children from within our regional collaborative. If we are unable to match you within our regional collaborative we are able to refer you to the Wales Adoption Register, and we will also provide you with information and opportunities to make searches of available children yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here we answer some of the most common questions asked by people who want to become adoptive parents. However, if the following answers don’t cover the issues that are causing you concern or you need further clarification, please get in touch.
Is there an age limit?
There is no upper age limit, but you will need to be fit and healthy enough to support a child in your care safely into adulthood. The important factors are that you are able to provide a child with stability, security, a safe nurturing environment and have enough time to meet the needs of the child.
Are there any restrictions on health and disability?
You should tell us about any health issues early in the assessment process so that we can consult a medical professional and advise you appropriately. All adopters undergo a medical assessment.
Passive smoking is now recognised as being harmful to adults and children so if you want to adopt you should be a non-smoker or to have stopped smoking for a period of one year if you want to adopt children 0-5 years old. All prospective adopters will be expected to maintain a smoke free home.
Being a bit overweight will not stop you adopting a child, it only becomes a problem if it affects your health or ability to care for a child.
If you are disabled, this in itself is not a barrier to becoming an adoptive parent. It is your ability to parent a child that is important. However if your condition has implications for your life expectancy, or involves symptoms which may take looking after children problematic, then this would need careful consideration.
What if I have had or am having infertility treatment?
Adoption is emotionally tough and requires total commitment so we need you to have come to terms with any infertility issues you may have experienced before embarking on the adoption process.
If you are having or have had infertility treatment, we expect the treatments to have completed and for you to have a period of time to adjust. This is because it is important to give yourself time to come to terms with the fact that you cannot conceive and come to adoption in the right frame of mind.
What if I have a criminal conviction?
As part of our process we have to obtain information from the Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS). This will tell us if you have had any, including spent, convictions. Anyone who has committed certain serious criminal offences, including crimes against children or violent crimes will not be able to adopt. If you do have any criminal convictions we would urge you to be open with us as early as possible. We understand that people may have minor offences on record, and particularly there may have been youthful misdemeanours in the past – we will always look sympathetically at any record in terms of what it was, when it occurred, how regularly and how long ago. Further to the DBS checks we also undertake checks with Local Authorities in which you live, or have previously lived.
What if I already have children?
If you already have children (either adopted or born to you) it is essential that you consider how another child will affect their lives. If they are of an age that they understand adoption and its implications, the social worker who assesses you will also spend time with them to get their views. The ages and needs of your children will help us to determine the ages and needs of the children who will best fit into your family.
Do my finances and employment status matter?
The important thing is that you've enough money to care for a child. Your financial circumstances and employment status will be considered as part of an adoption assessment. You can adopt if you have a low income, are unemployed or receiving benefits.
What help will I get after I’ve adopted a child?
You or your child may need advice and support at different times throughout your lives. There are a range of services that may be available for you and your family, including advice, support groups, therapeutic support, financial support and training.
Need to know more?
We will be happy to talk about any questions or concerns you may have.