Journey to a Forever Family (UK) – The Application Process

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The Adoption Application Process – Home Study

In April 2012 we received the application form to start stage 5. It was 20 pages long and covered questions on everything including: Personal information, descriptions of ourselves, our house and community, our finances and referees and work information. We also needed to fill in a 4-page chronology report to include all events from birth to now.
We then received a letter stating that the process was officially started! We had been assigned a social worker, had to book medical examinations with our GP and were to start the ‘Home Study’ element shortly. We also had to get CRB and Local Authority checks back and approved.

Stage 6 – The Home Study – took from May to August 2012. It involved 10 home visits – one each fortnight – with our assigned social worker and lots of homework following each meeting.  Our social worker was lovely – very open and honest and positive about the process. She said she was aiming to get us to panel, for a final decision, by October 2012.

Our first visit involved a general discussion of us and our lives, the Home Study process and answering any concerns we had. Our homework was to create family trees and a support map (diagram showing our different sources of support).

The second visit took 2.5 hours and covered our lives from 0-18yrs. Our homework was to look at our childhood, family backgrounds and current lifestyle and decide what we would implement in our own family.  We also had to write a typical 7-day diary of what we do from waking to sleeping.

Our third visit covered our lives from 18 years until the present day, including our jobs, homes and relationship. Homework was to write all about our interests, religion, values and morals, education and employment –including the past, present and intentions for the future.

Our forth visit involved answering questions on our extended families, interests, religion, hobbies, education and employment. Homework was to create an ‘Ecomap’ and explain what kind of support each person shown could give to us, when and how often.

The fifth session was an emotional one to tackle but was better than we had expected. We discussed types and frequency of support we have and how we feel about asking for help. We had to state what we thought would happen if one of us died and how we foresaw ourselves reacting and feeling. Homework was to write an ‘Idiot’s Guide’ to how CF affects our lives – daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.

The sixth session was to complete the Child Matching Preference form about the sex and age of our preferred child, the number of children wanted, contact issues with birth and foster family, background history, existing medical conditions, past experiences, ethnic and religious considerations and current / future functioning. We discussed each one in depth before making a decision. Our homework was to answer questions individually on all aspects of us and how we work as a twosome.

The seventh session was a ‘Mr and Mrs’ style visit – an hour and a quarter with each of us individually followed by a joint account after lunch.  We had to describe ourselves and our strengths and weaknesses, and then do the same for the other person. We then had to explain why we work as a couple and how we deal with chores, demands and issues, along with what we might need to work on as parents. We discussed how we felt about adoption, the process and any concerns.

The eighth session was very straightforward. We went through a health and safety questionnaire and what a ‘safe caring policy’ entails. Our homework was to write a safe caring policy; to complete questions on disability, sex, gender, culture and race; to write statements on our parenting capacity; to organise a fire service check and to get a fire plan.

Our ninth session was a combination of discussing culture, disability, gender and sexuality; finances and parenting capacity. We were told that, next, our social worker would speak to our referees and family about us.

The tenth and final visit was to show how my medicines, equipment and health regime worked. She also told us that all of our references and parents were lovely, supportive and it was her pleasure to meet them. All the information is now being pulled together to compile our final report.

As part of the training you have to do another day part way through your approval process and so in july 2012 we completed the last day of training and went through the procedure for selecting, linking, matching and placing a child with approved adopters. We looked at the scoring system that social workers use and talked through the introduction period with a foster carer. It helped us to feel one step nearer.

That same week we had our review meeting with the social worker.  We went through all the areas of the report that had been written up. We also revisited areas that needed more information. We asked all our final questions were told we would be receiving the referee and family reviews that week to sign.

Two weeks later, in August 2012 we received the news that all the managers had agreed to take us to panel, providing we received a successful second opinion visit. A second social worker came to visit for this, who would also be our support worker post-panel.  After this we signed final report and the panel date was set for three weeks’ time!

Getting Panel Approval

Panel was very strange! We arrived half hour early and were given 3 questions and warned there might be more. The questions were simply:

  •  Why did we choose this Local Authority?
  • Who would support us if I was ill?
  • How did we think we would manage with the uncertainty of delayed development?

After 40 minutes of waiting we were invited in. They were the most nerve-racking 40 minutes as there should be no reason to be refused at that stage but your nerves still make you think negatively!

There were 9 people, our two social workers and us present for the meeting. They all introduced themselves and started to ask the three questions above. We just answered the best we could, making sure to smile lots! They also asked how we thought a child would affect our lifestyle. We were in there for about 15 minutes and then we were asked to leave whilst they spoke to our social worker. Those 15 minutes flew by and they are a bit of a blur – I’m just glad both me and my husband are confident and are at ease when speaking in public settings as it would have been very hard if not.

After 10 minutes our social workers and the chair of the panel came out to congratulate us of being successful and to wish us all the best! We had been approved! We were over the moon – but then realised this was it…. Now we would be on the waiting list to get a child… Our child!!!

Read the next part of our journey here…