The adoption process

At TACT Peterborough, we understand how difficult it can be to pick up the phone or to make the first contact about adopting and we aim to make the process as relaxed as possible. Our team offer a friendly, warm and personalised service. All of our staff are experienced, skilled and knowledgeable, and are experts in adoption.

1. Research and information gathering

Becoming an adoptive parent is a big decision, so it is understandable that you will want to do thorough research to ensure that you understand what to expect and to help you decide if adoption is right for you. Our website aims to answer some of your initial questions about the adoption process and what it’s like to be an adoptive parent, but you may also find it beneficial to do some additional reading. Organisations such as First4Adoption, Adoption UK and New Family Social have a huge amount of impartial information and advice for people considering adoption.

2. Initial Enquiry and Meeting a Social Worker

As part of your research an information gathering, we actively encourage you to contact us to speak to one of our friendly advisers. We will be able to answer any specific questions that you have and we’ll also ask a few initial questions about you and your interest in adoption.

If after the initial conversation you decide that adoption is right for you we can arrange for you to meet with a social worker, either one to one or at an information session, to further discuss your interest in adoption and what to expect from the rest of the process.

This can be a daunting time, but everyone that you speak to throughout the process will be there to offer advice, support you through the process and help you to decide if being an adoptive parent is right for you.

3. Assessment 

At this stage you formally apply to become an adoptive parent and start the assessment process. The assessment usually takes around six months to complete and is divided into two separate stages:

Stage One – Training and checks

Stage One of the assessment takes approximately two months to complete. During this stage you will submit your formal application to adopt (this is called a Registration of Interest). The Registration of Interest grants us permission to take up references and gather certain information about you, including a medical report, a criminal background check and written references.

During this stage you will also be invited to attend our Preparation for Adoption Course. These groups are designed to help you further explore the benefits and challenges of adoption and develop the skills that you will need as an adoptive parent. During the group you will look at key parenting skills as well as the specialist skills needed to care for children who may have experienced abuse or neglect.

The preparation groups also give you the chance to meet other prospective adopters going through the process, as well as other experienced adopters who will be on hand to answer questions about their adoption journey and the realities of family life. It is possible, if required, to take a break of up to six months before commencing stage two of the assessment.

Stage Two

Stage Two of the assessment process usually takes around four months to complete. Second time adopters will begin the process at this stage as part of the ‘Fast Track’ assessment.

During this stage, you will have a series of meetings with your social worker, where they will get to know you and your family and spend time helping you think about what strengths you could bring to being an adoptive parent. During these meetings your social worker will also ask you to reflect on your own life, including themes such as your childhood, relationships with your family, how you manage challenging or stressful situations, your capacity to reflect on your own past experiences and what type of parent you hope to be.

If you are applying as a couple these meetings will involve both of you, as well as some time for each of you to meet with the social worker individually. Your social worker will also meet any children you already have and other people who live with you, as well as some of your friends and family.

The whole adoption process can be daunting, and at times may feel quite intrusive, but it is important to remember the whole process is focused on finding the right homes for children in care. It’s important to ensure we get a rounded picture of you and your family during the assessment and that you (and your partner if applicable) have the resilience and emotional maturity to be a good parent.

4. Going to Panel

Once the assessment process is complete the social worker will gather all of the information together into a Prospective Adopters Report which is presented to the adoption panel. Our adoption panel is made up of a range of people who all have a professional connection to adoption.

You will be invited to attend the panel meeting and the panel members will talk with you and your social worker before they make their recommendation as to whether you are “approved”, which means you are suitable to adopt.

5. Matching the right child

Once you are approved as an adopter, your social worker will keep in touch and let you know about children who need families. Our aim is to find the ‘best match’ between children awaiting adoption and approved carers. If there are no suitable matches in Peterborough within three months of your approval, we will search regionally through the East Midlands and London consortium’s. This brings together adoption agencies in the region and aims to increase the possibilities for matching children with teams. We will also recommend a range of tools that you can use yourself to search for potential matches, such as LinkMaker.

6. Becoming a family

After the match has been approved at panel, the social workers involved will discuss with you how you will be introduced to the child, what support will be in place for you and any proposed contact arrangements with the child’s birth family.

At this stage you have not yet legally adopted the child. You will share joint parental responsibility with us and the child’s birth parents until an adoption order has been granted, although the balance of parental responsibility will vary depending on each individual case. To make the adoption legal you must apply to the courts for an adoption order to be granted. The child must have lived with you for at least 10 weeks before you apply, however many families benefit from a longer period of adjustment and value the continued support of social workers during this time.

Once the adoption order is granted you have legally adopted the child and have full parental responsibility for him or her. The child is now a full member of your family and can take your surname. An adoption certificate will replace the child’s birth certificate, this will be in the child’s new adoptive name and is necessary for formal identity such as a passport.

7. Support

Here at TACT Peterborough we don’t see the Adoption Order as the end of your journey – it’s just the start! We will continue to be here for you to offer you and your new family a lifetime of support. This could include:

  • Advice, information and counselling
  • Training
  • Therapeutic services
  • Financial support
  • Support groups