First4adoption.org.uk lists four stages in the adoption process, with stage one being divided into two.
Pre-stage one – Exploration
If you are considering adopting a child, it is imperative to read as much information as possible from those who have adopted before and on the process itself. Adoption agencies can provide invaluable information on the process. This is also the stage where you select an agency to work with.
Stage one – initial checks and registration
This stage takes around two months to complete. Once you choose an agency, you will need to complete a Registration of Interest. You will normally be offered an informal meeting with a social worker before doing this. You will also need to agree to a Prospective Adopter Plan, which sets out you and the agency’s duties and responsibilities.
The Application of Interest will ask for details about you and your family, including aspects such as your income, occupation, support network, and health.
You will also be required to provide around three referees and three written references.
A DBS check will be carried out, and a medical report requested from your GP.
You will also be invited to attend preparation groups with other potential adopters where information about the process and the special skills needed when adopting a child will be outlined.
A decision will then be made regarding whether your application can proceed to stage two.
Stage two – assessment, training, and approval
This process takes around four months, and at the end, a decision will be made on whether you are suitable to become an adopter. This stage involves a ‘home study’. A social worker will spend time with you, your other children and friends and family to learn more about you.
The information obtained during stage two will go to an Adoption Panel who will review the findings and make a recommendation to the agency on whether you are suitable. The agency’s decision-maker will then make the final ruling on whether you can adopt a child.
Stage three – matching you with the right child
If you are approved, the agency will work with the local authority to find a child who is right for you. At present, most adopters and children are matched within 6-12 months.
Stage four – moving in
Once you and your child have been matched, social workers will support you in spending time with them so you can both get to know each other. This will include short stays at your home before eventually, the move becomes permanent. After the child moves in, you can apply to the Court to legally adopt him or her.