Once you are approved as an adopter, we will begin the matching process to ensure the best match for you and a child/ren. We try to place children with prospective adoptive families as soon as possible within the agreed Statutory Timescales and National Minimum Standards for adoption, but there are no set rules as to how long you may have to wait for a child. Some prospective adopters are matched quite quickly, but for others, it may take longer. This can depend on the children currently waiting and your expectations of the kind of child you are looking for to join your family. We will keep you updated monthly during the matching process.
Finding a match
Your adoption social worker will visit you to draw up a Matching Agreement. This agreement will outline how we will go about finding the right child for you and your family.
This stage can feel a bit different, and adopters can sometimes feel “out of the loop” they feel that “nothing is happening” as contact with their social worker becomes less frequent.
This section is to reassure you about what happens next and to let you know about what will be going on behind the scenes and the contact that you can expect from your social worker.
Your assessment social worker is only part of the Adoption Team. There is another team of social workers who are called Family Finders. They have direct links to the Children’s Social Workers (sometimes called Permanence Workers) who take care of the children’s cases, where there is a plan for adoption.
Once a decision has been made by a child/children’s Local Authority decision maker that they should be placed for adoption a family finding social worker is allocated and will, in consultation with the children’s social worker and foster carer, create an anonymous profile on linkmaker. Anonymously profiling children prevents delay in commencing family finding and enables potential links to be explored and discussed at the very earliest stage. When/if a Placement Order is granted pictures, videos and the first name of the child will be added to the profile.
Family Finders look at the needs of the children first and see which adopters may best meet those needs. Your social worker will be able to give you an indication of the type of children waiting at a point in time, and discuss whether you might be a suitable family for them. You can talk to your social worker about any children you feel might be a appropriate match for you, and they will do the same if they become aware of a child/ren that they feel you’d be a good match for.
What Link Maker is and the role it plays . . .
Once approved it is crucial to create a profile on Link Maker (https://www.linkmaker.co.uk/register) so that you can see children available within Adoption West and nationally.
Please find further information on link below on how to set up a profile and how to familiarise yourself with the different functions on Link Maker.
Adoption West would advise that you include your opening summary to your Prospective Adopters Report on your Link Maker profile, as it gives an overview (in your own words) of your family and interests. We would advise including some photographs on your profile that clearly show your face (including eyes – so avoid photographs with sunglasses) and demonstrate your family’s interests.
Your social worker will help and support you to think about the content of your profile, it is important to remember that it should be a true reflection of who you are and the matching criteria you have discussed during the assessment process.
We are aware that LinkMaker enables you to make multiple expressions of interest (up to five) however it is important that prospective adopters only express interest in one child/sibling group at a time to ensure that focus can be given to considering that child/children’s individual needs and experiences.
Expressing an interest
It is important to remember that the process from the point in which you express an interest in a child/children can vary and will depend on the individual child/children being considered and the interest received. Once you have made an expression of interest in a child and discussed this with your social worker your Prospective Adopters Report (PAR) will be shared with the family finder and child/children’s social worker. The family finding social worker and child/children’s social worker will then meet to discuss the information in the PAR and the child/children’s needs and a decision made as to whether or not discussions are progressed to sharing the child/children’s Child Permanence Report (CPR) with you and your social worker.
Using these two reports, and the social worker’s combined knowledge and experience, the needs of the child would be carefully considered and whether the adopters could meet these needs, now and in the future.
The social workers focus on (but not limited to):
- The child’s early experiences and the impact that these have had on the child and what the future impact might be
- Contact arrangements
- Child’s history
- Known additional needs/ or a medical condition
- Child’s attachment style
- Arrangements for siblings
- Adopters existing children
- The impact of a child’s early life experiences on their emotional responses and behaviours
The child’s needs will always be kept at the centre of this piece of work, but alongside the above points the social workers will begin to consider the adopters:
- Experience of looking after children
- Understanding of early trauma and the needs of adopted children
- Support network
- Parenting experience (if relevant)
Once you and your social worker have read the CPR, and if there is mutual agreement and commitment to move forward with further discussions, the family finding social worker and the child/children’s social worker will arrange a visit to meet you at your home. If more than one family is identified as a potential match for the child, it is Adoption West’s practice for the family finder and child’s SW to shortlist and visit up to three families. When more than one family is being considered visits should be as close as possible together and the linking meeting arranged no later than five working days after the last visit has taken place.
The Home Visit
This is your opportunity to ask the child’s social worker more about the child and explore the information you have read within the CPR in more detail. It is also the social workers opportunity to ask you questions both about yourselves but also in regards to how you would meet that child/children’s specific needs both now and into the future. Your social worker will help you prepare for the visit and will be there on the day to support you, but you are encouraged to consider the questions you would want to ask based on the information that has been shared to date. It is not unusual for prospective adopters to feel nervous about a family finding visit but it is important to remember to be yourselves and to use this opportunity to explore and discuss information openly.
The decision for the potential match rests with the local authority and Adoption West will provide a consultation role. A linking meeting will be held after a family finding visit/s has taken place. This is a professionals meeting which includes the social worker and family finder involved in the home visit, the SW manager and AW senior practitioner or manager. The meeting considers multiple factors and weighs up strengths and vulnerabilities of each potential match. Your social worker will be invited to attend part of that meeting so that they can provide any reflections or queries you may have from the information discussed in the visit and to answer any remaining areas of uncertainty and to discuss strengths and potential vulnerabilities in the match. Your social worker will notify you of the outcome of the meeting (relevant to yourselves) as soon as possible after it is held.
The decision for the potential match rests with the local authority and Adoption West will provide a consultation role. A linking meeting will be held after a family finding visit/s has taken place. This is a professionals meeting which includes the social worker and family finder involved in the home visit, the Child’s social worker’s manager and and Adoption West senior practitioner or manager. The meeting considers multiple factors and weighs up strengths and vulnerabilities of each potential match. Your social worker will be invited to attend part of that meeting so that they can provide any reflections or queries you may have from the information discussed in the visit and to answer any remaining areas of uncertainty and to discuss strengths and potential vulnerabilities in the match. Your social worker will notify you of the outcome of the meeting (relevant to yourselves) as soon as possible after it is held.
Linking Meeting to Matching panel
Once a link is formalised a matching panel date will be arranged and various meetings will be arranged to ensure you are provided with the information you need to understand the child/children’s experiences and needs. This will include a face to face meet up with the foster carer (supported by one of the professional group), a child information meeting (this is attended by relevant professionals such as health visitors, previous social workers, family time supervisors, schools and nurseries who all share the information they have regarding the child/children,) a meeting with the agency medical advisor and if relevant, consultation with therapeutic services/Child & Adolescent Health.
A report will be written by the child/children’s social worker and your adoption social worker. You will opportunity to read and consider the report prior to documents being submitted to matching panel and to add your comments as to why you feel you are the right match for this child/children. The report also includes a section which details the delegated responsibility you would have once the child/children are placed for adoption so that you understand the agreement and any restrictions within this.
You would attend matching panel with your adoption social worker and the child/children’s social worker and will have opportunity to give your views and answer questions the panel may have. The panel will make a recommendation and then the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) will formally decide whether the match can go ahead.
Introductions and placement
Once your match has been approved, plans begin for the best way to introduce your child/ren to you as their new parent(s). It is likely that in the lead up to matching panel discussions in regards to a proposed transitions plan and how/when they take place will have already started and the plan is then finalised in an Adoption Placement Planning Meeting which will take place once the match has been agreed by the Agency Decision Maker. It is important to remember that introductions are centred around the needs of the child/ren and tailored to meet their specific personalities, emotional, physical, and developmental needs.
In most incidence, introductions start with your child/ren being shown pictures of you usually presented in a child friendly, age-appropriate book. From there a series of ‘playdates’ will be arranged before you gradually then start spending time at the foster carers home learning about the child/children’s day-to-day routines and moving towards a transference of care tasks. The time you spend at the foster placement will be gradually increased before transitions then move to your home. The plan will be regularly reviewed and when/if needed amendments made. It is important that the plan remains flexible and that the child/children remain the focus. Review meetings will be facilitated by the family finding social worker and attended by yourself, your social worker, the child/children’s social worker, foster carer and their supervising social worker so that progress and any amendments to the plan can be collectively discussed and agreed.
Adoption West use the UEA Moving to Adoption, model of transitions which includes a plan for the child to have ongoing contact with the foster carer post their move into your care which is gradually reduced in frequency. More information about the UEA Model can be found here: www.movingtoadoption.co.uk/
This is the start of your lives together, and while the early days can be full of joy and excitement, they are can also be exhausting, daunting and anxiety-provoking, and that’s why the start of your life together does not mark the end of our involvement.
We are very committed to providing ongoing high-quality support. You and your child or children will receive regular visits from us to talk through how everything is going and make sure that you are receiving good support, and you can always call us for help and advice.
Link to Post Adoption Support Resources
Applying for an Adoption Order
Following a period of post-placement support and everyone is satisfied that your children have settled successfully into your family, a discussion will be had at a childcare review meeting about when to apply for an Adoption Order.
With the assistance of your adoption social worker, you will then need to complete an Adoption Application Form and submit it to the Court, who will then request an adoption report from the agency. A hearing date will be set and once the Adoption Order is granted, all rights and responsibilities originally held by the birth parents will transfer to you, and you will legally become the child or children’s parents.
Your child can now take your surname.