Assessment of Prospective Adopters
Adoptive parents have to be able to care for a child into adulthood. This requires commitment, skills and knowledge.
The purpose of the assessment process is to ensure that you will be able to parent the child well, safely and securely.
We do this in different ways and normally it will be completed within 6 months.
The first step is to attend a preparation course. You will learn more about adoptive parenting and if it is right for you and your family. The assessment process, properly, is very, very thorough.
As an Adoption Agency, we must ensure that there is no reason why you cannot be entrusted with the care of someone else’s child.
A full police report known as an enhanced disclosure check will be carried out. If you have a criminal record it does not necessarily mean that you cannot adopt a child, it depends on the offence and when it happened. There are some types of offence which would prevent you from being approved as an adoptive parent. In order for the police check to take place, you will be asked to give a list of your previous addresses from the age of 8 years.
Local Authority Checks
Checks will be made with the Local Authorities where you have lived since the age of 16 years. These checks are carried out to find out if you have had any previous contact with Social Work Services, which might suggest you should not adopt a child.
Your GP will be required to give you a medical examination to determine if you are medically fit to have the full-time care of a child. Disability or illness does not necessarily mean that you cannot be an adoptive parent. However, your ability to look after a child throughout its childhood will be assessed by the Medical Adviser to the Adoption Panel.
You will be asked to give the names of 3 people who can give you a personal reference. One of them should be a member of your own family and the other 2 should know you in your personal life rather that professionally in the way a Doctor or Minister might do. Your Social Worker will also be asked to interview 2 of your referees. Referees who can comment on you skills with children are particularly welcomed. We will also be in contact with any children of your own or from previous relationships to seek their views.
We will request a reference from your current or last employer.
Health Visitor’s Report
A Health Visitor’s report will be requested if you have recently cared for a child under the age of 5 years.
We will contact the school of any child under the age of 18 years who was or is in your care, asking for their opinion of your abilities.
You do not have to be financially well off to adopt a child, but you will be required to provide details of your income and regular out goings which your Social Worker may need to verify.
Other adults living in your household will be asked to consent to Police and medical reports.
You will be asked to produce your birth certificate and marriage certificate and any other relevant certificates, e.g. Extract Decrees of Divorce.
You and your Social Worker will work together to provide evidence of your skills and abilities. You must show that you are competent to care for children in the following ways:
Caring for children
- An ability to provide a good standard of care to children which promotes healthy emotional, physical, sexual and intellectual development throughout childhood and into adulthood.
- An ability to accept the individual child as he/she is.
- An ability to provide care appropriate to the individual child as he/she is.
- A knowledge of child development and an ability to listen to and communicate with children appropriate to their emotional age and understanding.
- An ability to set appropriate boundaries, and manage children’s behavior within these.
Providing a safe and caring environment
- An ability to ensure that children are cared for in a home where they are safe from harm or abuse.
- An ability to help children keep themselves safe from harm or abuse, and to know how to seek help if their safety is threatened.
- An ability to recognise the particular vulnerability of disabled children to abuse and discrimination.
Working as part of a team
- An ability to work with other individuals and organisations and act as an advocate for the child.
- An ability to communicate effectively.
- An ability to keep information confidential.
- An ability to understand the implications of the effects of discrimination and racism.
- An ability to promote an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory approach to parenting.
Adoption as a life-long process
- An ability to understand and meet the children’s needs in relation to their birth family and past history.
- An understanding that adoption is a life-long process and an ability to seek appropriate post adoption support at different stages.
- An ability to understand and promote a young person’s development towards adult status.
- An ability to appreciate how personal experiences have affected themselves and their families, and the impact adoption is likely to have on them all.
- An ability to develop a support system within the community and personal networks appropriate to the adoption task.
- An ability to use training opportunities and improve skills.
- An ability to sustain positive relationships and maintain effective functioning through periods of stress.
The Adoption Panel
All the information gathered during your assessment is presented to the Highland Council’s Adoption Panel. The Panel is made up of representatives from the Highland Council’s Social Work, Education and Legal Services; the Health Services and a Voluntary Organisation. There is also an adoptive parent on the Panel. You will be asked to attend the second part of the meeting, to discuss your application. Your Social Worker will be there. The panel makes a recommendation about your suitability.
You will receive a letter within 21 days to tell you whether your application to become a prospective adoptive parent has been successful. This decision will be based on the information provided and the recommendation of the adoption panel.
If you disagree with the decision, you can appeal within 21 days to the Director of Social Work Services, who will write to you outlining how the appeal will be conducted.
Once you have been approved, your Social Worker will remain in contact with you.
Updating your assessment
There will be an annual health check and a report to the adoption panel about any changes in your circumstances. Your police check is updated every 3 years. Should a placement be planned and there has been no check in the previous 12 months this must be done before placement.
The Right Family For The Child (Matching)
Any child needing a new family is considered by the Adoption Panel, who identify their health, social, emotional and educational needs.
One of the tasks of the panel is to match the child to a family who can meet these needs. The child’s needs for contact will be noted.
The birth parents are encouraged to be involved in the selection of the family for their child; the child will know that they have helped to choose the new parents. It may also help the birth parents feel that they have done everything in their power to give the child a secure future.
The matching process ensures all prospective adopters are considered for every child in their age range, until the family who are best able to meet all the particular needs of that child or children is identified.
Approval as a prospective adopter is not a guarantee that a child will be placed with you.
Post Adoption Support
We expect that you and the child may need help at any point. This is not a failure but is part of adoption. Your child will need continuing help to understand their past. This may be something you can do within your own family. Often the knowledge and skills of someone outside the family is essential, Social Work, Health or Education may assist.
Before the adoption order is granted we will discuss what might be helpful given the child’s known history. Previous abuse, neglect, or even uncertainty can produce ongoing worries in the child. These must be understood and worked on.
The Council has an adoption allowance scheme, which adoptive parents may join. The needs of the child and the income of the adopters are taken into account before a decision is made to grant an allowance and is reviewed regularly.