First Steps – What does the Assessment process involve?

The process of assessment with adoption@heart is outlined below and is designed to support our children to become your children.

There are two stages to the assessment process. Stage 1 takes two months, is led by you and involves all the statutory checks. Stage 2 takes four months and is more in-depth.

Stage 1

We will take up checks and references with:

  • DBS/CRB;

  • The local authority;

  • Your employers (where appropriate);

  • Your landlord or mortgage company.

In addition:

  • We will ask you to supply us with the details of people who can act as a personal reference and can comment on your suitability to adopt we will ask for a combination of friends and family references;

  • You will have a medical with your GP and consideration will be given to your physical and mental health and lifestyle-related issues, and we’ll need to know of any specific health issues you have in order to consider what impact these could have upon parenting a child.

We’d encourage you to give us a call if you have a physical or mental health issue or a weight issue you’d like to discuss. Everyone’s circumstances are different, so it’s worth having your questions answered. We treat everyone as an individual; we’re non-judgemental and look for your strengths.

We will ask you to attend training designed to support you in developing your understanding of the backgrounds and needs of children for whom adoption is the plan and the support available to you with the adoptive parenting task.

Once we have collected all this information we will arrange an end of stage 1 meeting to discuss with you next steps and progression to Stage 2 of the assessment process.

The Government has designed this two-stage process to ensure that those who enter Stage 2 are well informed and in a position to move forward with their application and are therefore likely to be approved as adopters for the kind of children requiring families.

Stage 2

This is where we get to know you a lot better. In this stage, a social worker will visit you at home on a number of occasions to complete a Prospective Adopters Report (PAR). You will also have some joint visits with a social worker from the adoption support team who will attend the adoption panel with you and your assessing social worker, and take over as your supporting social worker once you are approved as suitable to adopt. This promotes our ability to provide you with high quality adoption support from the start.

The assessing social worker will also undertake visits and discussions with the people you identified in stage 1 as your personal references. You may also be invited to attend further training modules about specific issues, for example adopting siblings. You friends and family will also be invited to attend a ‘Family & Friends Workshop’.  Your support network is important when starting your adoption journey and we will talk to you about this as part of the assessment process. As part of your preparation to adopt, we provide training for family members and friends so that they can learn about the needs of adopted children, and how to support you emotionally and practically once a child or children are placed with you.

In parallel to completing your stage 2 assessment, your social worker will be liaising with the adoption@heart Family finding team to begin to consider children who might be suitable as a ‘match’ with you – this may include children identified for an early permanence placement.

Once the assessment is completed, you will receive a copy and are invited to make any comments about it. The assessment is then presented to the Adoption Panel which you will be invited to attend.

The Adoption Panel will consider all the information gathered during the assessment process and make a recommendation on your suitability to be an adoptive parent which is then passed to the Agency Decision Maker (ADM) who will make the final decision, taking account of your assessment report and the panel recommendation.

What happens when I’m approved as an adoptive parent?

At the point that the ADM makes the decision that you are suitable to adopt you will be formally allocated a social worker from the adoption support team who will support you through the process of matching and placement of a child.

Finding the perfect match

Once you are approved to adopt, we will continue to work to identify a child or children suitable for your family.

For many adopters this process happens very quickly but some may have to wait several months for the right match to be identified. We know this can be frustrating but adoption@heart is committed to finding families for children based on the needs of the child and the parenting capacity of the prospective adopters. The matching process is vitally important as adoption is for life. More information about our children and matching process.

As an approved adopter, you will have access to adoption@heart support services including:

  • Invitation to training /workshops;
  • Peer support groups;
  • Social events;
  • adoption@heart Newsletter;
  • Adoption Buddy.

More information about our adoption support team can be found here.

Once a child is placed with you, we will continue to visit and support you with all aspects of the placement including support with completing your application for an adoption order, which you can apply for after the child has been placed with you for a minimum of 10 weeks.

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