We have developed a list of the most common questions we get asked from prospective adopters. If your questions isn’t there, please call us call us on 0800 652 6955 for a confidential chat of complete our ‘Request a Call Back’ form here and a member of our team will contact you.
Adopters who already have children
A spare bedroom is preferable, need to think about the impact on birth child if they are suddenly having to share a room. Where do they go for space/privacy if they have not got their own room
How will you balance meeting the needs of the children already in your family with a child/ren being placed with you.
What difficulties do you anticipate and how will you manage these.
What does being a parent mean to you and how did you adjust to the life change?
What have been your biggest challenges as a parent and how have you dealt with these? Be aware that parenting adopted children is different than for birth children.
What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses as a parent?
Yes, we always include birth children in the adoption process as far as possible, ascertaining their wishes and feelings. We do this in an age appropriate way which takes account of your birth child’s individual needs. In getting to know your birth child, we will be better able to help you decide on the right child to join your family.
My existing children are adopted. Are there any particular issues I should be considering which might affect them?
It is important that a child/ren who has joined your family has had lots of time to feel settled and secure before thinking of adopting again. The time needed will vary depending on how old the child/ren was when they were placed with you and the experiences they may have had before joining the family.
Your older child/ren may regress when another child joins your family. It can come as a shock for adopters when their child/ren who has presented as being happy, settled and secure, ready for a younger sibling is suddenly demanding and challenging. Therefore you may find it helpful to talk through with your adoption team the timing of a further application and the age and backgrounds of children that you can consider.
You need to prepare your children as you would with a birth child for another child coming into the family. Using books can be helpful (see reading list).
Talk to your child and be honest with them, ask them how they feel and if they have any worries.
Involve your child throughout the process and try to address any issues they may raise. The social worker who will be completing your assessment will also talk to your child and involve them in the process in an age appropriate way. They will be on hand to answer any questions your child might have.
Will a Social Worker want to meet with my children and what kind of issues will they discuss with my children?
How did your parents raise with you the idea of adopting a child and how did you feel about this. Do you feel the same now or differently.
Do you know any children who are fostered or adopted
Why do you think children may need to be adopted
How do you think having another child/ren in the family will affect you
What type of child o you think will fit best into your family and why (eg age, sex, interests, individual or sibling group)
How could you help your new brother or sister to settle into your family and neighbourhood
What are the good things about living in your family
How would you feel about your adoptive brother/sister attending your school
Are there people you can talk to outside of the family about adoption
Are there any things that worry you about your family adopting a child
What do you think will be the good things about adopting a child for you and your family and what might be more difficult.
With younger children it might be better to use other communication methods eg drawing/ colouring worksheets or picture books to ascertain their views such as Adopting a brother or sister, a guide by Hedi Argent or Just a Member of the Family Bridget Betts.
Children Available for Adoption
Most of the children waiting to be adopted have been removed from their birth family, often as a result of some form of abuse or neglect, and so are likely to have suffered early adversity.
Currently the children waiting to be adopted tend to be those four years and upwards, children from ethnic minorities, sibling groups, young children with uncertain development and children with emotional difficulties as a result of their early experiences.
Yes, you can. Adoption agencies try wherever possible to match children with adoptive families that share their ethnic and religious background, however this is not always possible and sadly children of ethnic minorities are over-represented in the care system. We are therefore keen to hear from people who feel able and willing to care for a child of a different ethnicity to their own.
When assessing the suitability of applicants to adopt a child we need to build as big a picture as possible of who they are and what they have to offer an adopted child. You as referees know the applicants better than the assessing social worker and can add another dimension to the assessment.
We will want to know how long you have known the applicant/s and how often you have contact with them. This is to determine how well you know the applicant/s and therefore the significance of the reference.
If the applicants are a couple we will ask your opinion on their relationship such as is it strong and stable and what their strengths are. Also how do they cope with stress and how mutually supportive the couple are. This is because most of the children who are available for adoption have experienced instability and uncertainty in their lives. This can include having several carers since being removed from their birth families and a breakdown in the adoptive parents’ relationship can prove to be extremely traumatic for a child who has already suffered trauma in their lives.
We will ask if you have observed the applicant/s with children and how well they relate and interact with them. The applicant/s may have birth children or you may have seen them with your children or the children of families and friends. This helps us determine the level of experience
How the applicants have adjusted to childlessness if this is the case, how they have prepared to become adoptive parents, how much they have shared with the referees and how open they are in talking about the issues surrounding adoption
Where the applicant(s) have pets, how they are managed and if they present any risk to children;
Any reservations the referee has about the safety and welfare of any prospective adoptive children and whether the referee wholeheartedly supports the application;
What support the referee is able to offer the prospective adopters.
The information provided by referees will form part of the Prospective Adopters Report. This report is presented to the Adoption Panel whose remit it is to recommend whether prospective adopters be approved or not. References are an invaluable part of the assessment as they are from people who have known the applicant/s personally for several years.
The written account of the interview with referees will be shared with you and we will ask you to sign to endorse that it is a true and accurate account of your discussion. We will also ask for your permission to disclose the reference to the prospective adopters, or any interested third party, in the event of a complaint if required. Unless we have your written permission to do so, the information that you share with us will remain confidential and not be shared with the applicants, but any issues arising from the interview may need to be discussed as part of our assessment. We can assure you that this will be done sensitively and we can discuss this further with you should you have any concerns.
Before being matched with a child, you will be given full information about the child including their medical history, family history and care history. This is all contained in a report called a Child Permanence Report (CPR), which you will be given full access to. Your social worker will discuss this information with you in full, to enable you to decide if the child is the right match for you. You will also be given copies of any medicals undertaken in respect of the child and have the chance to liaise with the agency medical adviser should you have any further questions or concerns.
Each prospective adopter has a full medical as part of the adoption process, regardless of their health. As part of this we would consider the nature of your mental health problems in addition to the impact on you and your ability to parent. Each case is looked at individually by the agency medical adviser to determine your capacity to meet a child’s needs in to adulthood. We’ll work with you from the very early stages of the process to ascertain whether adoption is right for you.
Each prospective adopter undergoes a full medical as part of the adoption process, regardless of their health. As part of this we would consider the nature of your disability and the extent to which this impacts on you and your ability to parent. Each case is looked at individually by the agency medical adviser to determine your capacity to meet a child’s needs in to adulthood. We’ll work with you from the very early stages of the process to ascertain whether adoption is right for you.
We expect adopters to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle for both themselves and any child placed with them, and consider it is important that adopters model such lifestyles for children. Every adopter has to undergo a medical as part of the adoption process; an individuals weight is one aspect which will be looked at in the context of an individuals overall health and well being. We would be very happy to provide prospective adopters with advice and support in relation to this issue.
Your upbringing itself does not determine whether you are suitable to adopt, but rather how you reflect on your earlier experiences, whether positive or negative, and what you have learnt from these, is most important. Individuals who have overcome difficult past experiences are often able to use these positively to show that they are resilient and determined, two important characteristics for anyone who wants to become an adoptive parent.
If you or any member of your household smokes, you will not be able to adopt a child under 5 years of age as it is recognised smoking can have a particularly damaging effect on young children’s health. You may still be eligible to adopt an older child, but we would urge you to try and quit smoking for your own and the child’s health. Applicants who have previously smoked and wish to adopt a younger child must have stopped smoking for at least six months prior to commencing the assessment process, and must provide evidence of this. A Social Worker would be very willing to help you discuss this issue and help you to obtain advice and support. We can provide you will fuller details of our smoking policy and assistance available if that would be helpful.
It is ok to have some debt, but we do ask that applicants are financially secure. This means that you are managing your finances and if you have debt, can evidence that you are managing and reducing this. As part of the process we will ask you to complete a budget planner to evidence that you are managing your finances and are able to provide for a child.
I have heard that there is a maximum gap between the age of the child and my age for me to be able to adopt? Is this true
There is no maximum age gap between the age of the child and an adopter. We do, however, look at each case individually to assess the likelihood of an applicant being able to meet the child’s needs throughout childhood and beyond, which might, depending on your age, mean we ask you to consider older children.
Having a criminal offence does not necessarily prevent you from adopting, unless you or a member or your household or immediate support network have a criminal conviction or caution for offences against children or for serious sexual offences. We ask that you are open with us from the beginning about any other past criminal offences, which we will then discuss with you to ascertain the nature and circumstances of the offence, which will then be considered as part of the assessment.
Concurrent Planning is a potential alternative route to adoption which involves adopters looking after a child under a fostering arrangement, whilst the court decide whether the child should be placed for adoption. However, the first plan for these children is that they return to their birth family so potential adopters need to be able to accept significant uncertainty during the legal proceedings. These children are often placed with adopters from birth or from a very young age, but this is not always the outcome. If the court decides that the child should be placed for adoption, the child simply remains with their adopters and the status of the arrangement changes from one of fostering to adoption. This means that very young children do not have to move between foster carers and adopters as they under with traditional adoption. For more information on Concurrent Planning click here
Having a strong religious faith is not a barrier to adoption; we sometimes find that the support associated with being part of a faith community, can be of huge benefit to both adopters and children. Like any aspect of your life, we would require more information on how your faith impacts on your every day life and how you would respond in the future if the child decides not to share your faith. Lots of people with a religious faith adopt with us and with other agencies. We believe that we offer a service which is sensitive to people from a wide range of faith cultural backgrounds.
What happens if I can’t cope with the child when they are placed with me for adoption? / Suppose I don’t bond with my child?
As part of both the approval and matching process, we assess both your strengths and vulnerabilities so that we are able to match you with the right child for you and your family. We will never place a child with you if either ourselves or yourselves don’t consider you have the capacity or skills to parent the child successfully. That said, as rewarding as placements are, they can also be challenging and we would work closely with you to ensure you had the right support in place to parent the child successfully. In particular we pride ourselves on the level and quality of the support which we offer to adoptive parents. Click here for link to the Centre for Adoption Support.
Each adoptive carer has different family circumstances. We would need to discuss this with you to ascertain how often you will likely be away, who would look after the child in your absence and whether you are able to meet the needs of a child placed with you. It is usually best for the child in the early stages of an adoptive placement, to have as much stability in the new home as possible. Most adopters manage to find ways of adjusting the demands of their work so that they can meet the needs of the children who are placed with them.
What are my employment rights if I adopt in terms of pay and leave…..where is the best place to find out more?
To qualify for Statutory Adoption Leave, you must be an employee, give the correct notice and provide evidence you have been matched with a child. To qualify for Statutory Adoption Pay you must have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks by the week you were matched with a child. You must also earn on average at least £112 a week, (before tax) give the correct notice, provide and evidence you have been matched with a child. However, it is advisable to speak to your employer as some employers provide additional leave and pay, depending on your terms and conditions. More information can also be found at https://www.gov.uk/adoption-pay-leave/eligibility
The rules are slightly different if you’re going through the Concurrent Planning process. At present, employers do not have to provide paid adoption leave to concurrent carers whilst they are providing a fostering placement. You would however receive payment as a foster carer from the local authority during this time.
With concurrent placements, adoption leave would only take place once a decision has been reached by the Courts and not whilst you are fostering the child. If you are currently in employment it is advisable for you to consult with your employer as to whether they would allow you adoption leave from the outset. We would require one carer to be at home for the duration of the foster placement, whilst contact is ongoing with the birth family during court proceedings, and for some months beyond this if at all possible. Ideally one carer should be at home with the child for 12 months.
We can advise you furtheron this at an early stage in your enquiry.
I have heard that a lot of people get rejected as adopters, is this true and is there a right of appeal if I am turned down?
The vast majority of adopters who start the process with us, go on to adopt. If an individual does not go on to adopt, there is a specific reason for this, which would be explained to the applicant. An example of this could be a criminal offence relating to a child. On some occasions we ask applicants to come back to us in the future, for example when they have reduced significant debts. In Stage two of the adoption process, if you disagree with decisions made by the agency, you have the right to appeal against this decision either to Caritas Care or approach the Independent Review Mechanism, a body who will examine your case independently and then make a recommendation to the agency.
I have heard that social workers ask a lot or personal questions as part of the process, what will happen if there are questions I don’t want to answer
In order to be able to find a suitable match for our adopters, it is necessary for us to get to know individuals fully, which can involve asking a number of questions about you, your life and your experiences. These questions will always be relevant to your capacity to adopt. You need to be able to answer questions openly and honestly to ensure the assessment is accurate. If there is a specific area of your life you are uncomfortable talking about, we would encourage you to discuss this with us early in the process so that we can show sensitivity and support you to ensure you are able to share the information in a way that is right for you.
We always strive to develop positive working relationships with our adopters, and we hope you remain in contact with the agency post adoption. Your relationship with your social worker, does not however, have any bearing on the outcome of your assessment; you are being assessed against a standard criteria which is evidence based. Your case is also taken to our Adoption Panel following your assessment, in which a variety of individuals experienced in adoption, fully familiarise themselves with the case before making their own recommendation.
The final decision is made by our Agency Decision Maker who takes into account the recommendation of the Adoption Panel. We pride ourselves on our relationship with our adopters and the ongoing support we provide. Many stay in contact with us for several years after the adoption, although this is no pressure or obligation to do so.
We recognise that adoption is a life long commitment and therefore we mirror this in the support we provide. Caritas Care offers a comprehensive adoption support service through our Centre for Adoption support. This includes workshops, training events, social events for children and adults, social work support, therapeutic and psychological support, a newsletter, and a buddy system. Click her to find out more.
Adoptive families are expected to maintain some form of contact with the birth parents as this can be helpful for the child as they grow older. There are different forms of contact, but the most common form of contact is indirect (letters). Letters are exchanged with the birth family via the local authority who placed the child, and your address is kept confidential.
If brothers and sisters are placed for adoption separately, contact between the siblings is often in person on an annual or bi annual basis, which allows siblings to maintain a relationship as they grow older.
Prior to the making of an Adoption Order the birth parents will be informed that an application has been made by the prospective adopters. The birth parents have the right to ask the court if they can appeal against the Adoption Order being made, but they do not have a right to make a direct appeal without the permission of the court.
Once an adoption order is granted by the court, the child’s legal ties with the birth family end and you will become their new legal parents and be given all legal responsibilites in respect of the child.
Routes to Adoption
In the traditional route to adoption the court have agreed that the child can be placed for adoption before the child comes to live with you. Sometimes however, this can mean children wait several months before decisions are made about their future, are older and have suffered more disruption in their lives.
Caritas Care therefore offers an alternative route to adoption called ‘Concurrent planning’ or ‘concurrent care’ for children under two years old. Concurrent carers want to adopt but are prepared and approved both as foster carers and adopters while the courts decide whether or not a child can return to its birth family. During this time the child will need to see their parents regularly and the concurrent carers support the plan for the child to return home
However, if the courts decide that the child’s parents cannot provide long term care for the child, and there are no one else in the birth family network who can, the child will remain with their concurrent carer/s and be adopted by them. If the outcome is that the child is adopted, then the child does not have to move between foster carers and adopters, the foster carers become the adopters with no disruption to the child. Whilst it is often the case that these children go on to be adopted, concurrent carers must be prepared to work with the plan for the child to return home and accept the uncertainty of the situation. So this route is not for everyone. Please click on this link to find out more.
Fostering for Adoption is a slightly different route. In a small number of cases the local authority will decide early on that it has no plans for the child to return home to their birth family and therefore place a child with carers who are approved as adopters, but are willing to act as foster carers until the Courts make the final decision. If the court agrees that the child should be adopted and the adoption agency approves the ‘match’ between the adopters and the child, the child will go on to be adopted by their carers. Again, potential adopters need to be able to deal with the uncertainty of the situation and recognise that it is on the court which can make the final decision.
In traditional adoption, many local authorities give a settling in grant to adopters when the child is first placed, which is a one off payment of approximately £250. In a small number of cases an adoption allowance is also given to adopters, which is paid to adopters on a monthly basis, and assessed annually. An adoption allowance cannot be relied upon however, and therefore all adopters have to demonstrate they can afford to care for a child as part of the assessment process.
As a concurrent carer you would be paid whilst fostering the child, until the court makes a decision as to whether they should be returned home or placed for adoption.
Once you are approved, we will work with a number of local authorities to try to find a child that is right for you. The length of time it takes very much depends on the type of child you are looking to adopt. For example, if you are able to take two siblings aged 0-8, you are likely to wait less time than if you are approved to adopt one child aged 0-2.