Frequently Asked Questions

Use to drop down boxes below to find answers to our frequently asked questions; if the answer to your question isn't here please contact our friendly team.

Why do you carry out checks?

The Adoption Team have to carry out a number of checks on all applicants. A free medical with your doctor will ensure that you are fit and healthy enough to adopt. We have to carry out checks with the police and probation service to ensure that people we approve are suitable to look after children. You will be asked to nominate three referees, (close friends and family members) who know you well and can comment on your ability to parent a child.

What is an allocated social worker?

During the adoption process you will be allocated a social worker. Your social worker will support you through the assessment process and help you by addressing any questions or concerns you have, so you can understand more what to expect from becoming an adoptive parent.

What is an Adoption Panel?

The Adoption Panel is a group of people with relevant experience of social work and adoption. They consider applications to adopt, make recommendations about the suitability of applicants and approve adoption matches. You will be invited to attend Panel with your allocated social worker when any decisions are made about you.

What is the Agency Decision Maker (ADM)?

The ADM is a Senior Head of Service who ratifies decisions made by panel, this ensures a fair and equal decision making process for all.

What is parental responsibility?

Parental responsibility refers to all the rights, duties, powers and responsibilities which a parent has in relation to their child. The process of adoption sees parental responsibility transferred from the child’s birth family, to the local authority and then on to the adoptive parents. Once the Adoption Order is granted, the adoptive parents have full parental responsibility for the child.

How will I be introduced to the child?

Before you meet the child who you are matched to adopt, you will be given all the details about their life, character, personality and you will also see photographs and maybe a DVD of them. Following this, a period of planned introductions will be drawn up, which usually lasts over two weeks. You will start off by visiting the foster carer’s home and gradually getting more involved in the child’s life and routines. The child will then visit your home and begin to spend more time with you. The idea of the introductions is to gradually allow the child to move away from the foster carer to the prospective adopters as the main care givers.

What is an Adoption Order?

An Adoption Order is granted by a court when they believe that it is appropriate for a family to take on full parental responsibility for a child. It has the effect of legally severing all ties between the child and their birth parents. The prospective adoptive parents make an application to the court for the Adoption Order. The prospective adopters and child attend the court to hear the Order being made. Once the Order is made, a new birth certificate for the child will be produced, with the adopters listed as the child’s parents. An Adoption Order can be made any time up to a child’s 19th birthday.

What is family time?

If it is in their best interest, some children may have different types of contact with members of their birth family, this may be with parents or it could involve grandparents, siblings or other significant family members. The most common form of contact is the Letterbox service, which allows indirect correspondence between a birth family and the adopted child. Letters and cards can be exchanged which come through and are checked by a member of the Adoption Team, before being forwarded on. Occasionally direct contact with a birth relative may be agreed if it is in the child’s best interest.
We will discuss all possible contact arrangements with prospective adopters during the matching process to ensure you are happy and comfortable with the arrangements.

Adopting a child you’re fostering

If you are interested in adopting the child you are fostering; if you want to adopt a partner’s child; or are interested in adopting a child from overseas we can provide you with some information or point you in the right direction. Just give us a call or speak to your existing social worker.

Adopting a partner's child

Step parent adoption happens when the new partner of a parent, legally adopts a child from a previous relationship of that parent. This transfers all levels of parental responsibility from the ‘absent’ birth parent, to the step parent. A court will grant an Adoption Order which severs all legal links with the child’s absent birth parent and wider family. The application must be made before the child’s 18th birthday.

You can apply to adopt a step child if:

  • You are over 21 You are married to one of the child’s birth parents, or are living with a birth parent in an family relationship for a minimum of 1 year
  • The best interests of the child must be considered prior to applying for adoption, it is important to consider their thoughts and feelings, as well as those of the ‘absent’ birth parent and their family.
  • You reside in the British Isles and have done so for at least 6 months

To find out more about adopting a step-child, please contact our adoption support team by emailing fostering& or calling 01302 735508

I am related to someone who was, or is going to be, adopted

If you are ready to take the first steps in trying to find a family member who was, or is, adopted then you can register your interest in searching for them. PAC-UK is an independent agency who we work with to provide adoption support services. They are a team of specialist workers who help provide individuals and families affected by adoption. Find out more, and register your interest in searching for someone who has been adopted, by visiting their website:

Tracing birth relatives

Once an adopted person reaches the age of 18 they are legally entitled to see their original birth certificate and read their adoption file which will contain details about their birth family. If they wish, the adopted adult can try to trace their birth family.
The birth family can register their interest in getting in touch with their birth child through an adoption agency. They will then try to contact the adopted person. It is then up to the adopted person whether they wish to make contact with their birth family. The birth family cannot make direct initial contact with an adopted child.


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