Congratulations!  You’ve made the decision to adopt one of the 4,000 children in England waiting for loving adoptive parents.  Not an easy decision and one that will affect the rest of your life, and there’s.  So what happens next? The adoption process can be broken down into 5 distinct stages and here we’ll guide you through what each one entails…

1. Exploration

Presumably in making the decision to adopt, you’ll have done some research already and that’s what the Exploration stage is all about.  Getting information (just as you’re doing by reading this!), speaking to experts and trying to talk to other parents who have already experienced the highs and lows of adoption.

You’ll want to look at the different routes to adoption; through your local authority or through a voluntary adoption agency.

2. Initial Checks and Registration

Once you’ve found an agency that you think is right for you, When you have found an agency you are comfortable with, they will send you information about the process, will arrange to meet with you and also to start the formal evaluation process, which includes things like references and background checks. This stage will take no longer than 2 months.

3. Training and Assessment

During this stage, you’ll be invited to attend some preparation classes – a great opportunity to find out how adoption may affect you.  A police check and full medical examination will also be carried out and you’ll be asked to give the names of referees to give you a personal reference.  In addition to this you will meet with a social worker who will spend time with you and your family to assess your application.

This training and assessment stage usually takes around 4 months and culminates in a report that is presented to the Adoption Panel, a group of people who are experienced in adoption.  Once they’ve had a chance to review the report, they will make a recommendation to the adoption agency as to whether they feel you would be a suitable adoptive parent.

4. Matching you with the right child

Once your agency decides you can adopt, they’ll begin the process of finding a child for you to adopt.   You’ll be place on the national Adoption Register and a matching panel will make the final decision.

5. Moving In

Once you have been matched with a child and this has been approved, you’ll each spend time getting to know one another with the support of your social workers.  Visits will gradually get longer and more frequent, with short stays being introduced until you are finally ready for your child to move in.  Once at this stage, you are able to apply to court to become the child’s legal parent.

Of course this is a very general guideline of what is a very emotional process.  For more information, you can visit First4Adoption where there is more detailed information about the various stages along with advice and support too.