For anyone who has considered whether adoption could be right for them, you will need to make that initial phone call or send that email to your local authority or chosen adoption agency to tell them that you are interested in finding out some more information.
They are likely to want some details from you (nothing too heavy), mainly contact details, address details and things like that. From there, they are likely to invite you to an Adoption Information Event where you can find out more information and hear more about adoption.
I can only speak knowledgeably about the local authority that we did our process with, but my understanding is that most local authorities handle the training very similarly as there are standard expectations to most of the adoption process and journey that people take.
It is perfectly understandable to arrive at this event with some nerves as you may still be unsure that adoption is for you. You may even find yourself trying to work out whether you measure up to a good enough standard against the other couples or individuals there. You will also be trying to work out what you are expected to do as part of your attendance at the evening and whether its possible to screw up any chance you have of being successful by saying something stupid at this first hurdle.
I remember feeling most of these things when we first attended our Adoption Information Event. If I’m really honest, some of that event is a complete blur at this point because I think I allowed some of those thoughts to take up too much of my headspace rather than soaking up every detail that was shared.
My best advice to you – try to relax! I know that is easy to say as we are through the process and have our family but there is very little that you can say or do on that first evening that is going to screw it up for you. In fact, the main purpose of the evening is not for you to be assessed thoroughly but for you to receive information that may help with making your decision.
Most events of this nature, will also have profiles of children who are currently waiting to be adopted for you to have a look at. This can feel a little bit surreal as I remember knowing that these children needed ‘forever’ families as they were no longer able to live with their birth families, but I don’t think we had fully prepared ourselves to read those profiles at that time. I remember feeling like I just wanted to give all of them a home which I now appreciate is completely unrealistic.
The evening will usually involve a couple of Social Workers or Team Managers talking through the legal aspects of adoption, the reasons why children are unable to remain with their birth families, the actual process involved to be approved as an adopter or adoptive family and some of the relevant statistics for that particular local authority in respect of how many children they are currently trying to place in new families. It really is a quick tour through all of these aspects so don’t panic if you don’t remember it all, it will all be revisited on numerous occasions and in more detail at the different stages of the process.
They will also usually have invited an Adoptive Parent to come and share briefly some of their experiences having previously adopted with that Local Authority. I count it an absolute privilege that I get to do this a couple of times a year for our Local Authority and I love the opportunity to meet so many people at the start of their journey.
There are likely to be a number of Social Workers present for the evening and with our Local Authority, if you are interested from what you have heard with proceeding further you are invited to stay on for a 10/15 minute chat with one of them. Even at this stage it doesn’t commit you to the whole process but it does allow them to ask a few additional questions about whether you have completed fertility treatment, whether you or your partner are smokers, whether you have any large plans like moving house, building renovations, getting married or round the world trips planned and whether you already have a spare bedroom in your home.
You can then be sent an application form for completion that will then take you through to Stage One of your adoption journey.
I realise that every area may do things slightly differently but that is how it currently works in our area and it really isn’t anything to really worry about. Take it seriously? Absolutely! Worry about it? Not so much.