The Assessment Process (Part 1)
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The commonly used assessment form consists of five parts, which are summarised over the next few pages. Bear in mind that although the form is extremely comprehensive (which is understandable in the circumstances) your agency social worker is there to assist you through it. Try to view the report as a joint venture, while acknowledging that most agency social workers will feel quite comfortable compiling the report, after all they will probably have done it many times before. You on the other hand will be stepping into totally unfamiliar territory.
Remember too that you are not expected to be 'perfect applicants' - social workers are not looking for them either. Many know that they do not exist! Social workers look for, and often use the term 'good enough' parent to mean one who is both suitable to adopt and has the experience or potential to parent a child/ren.
This part of the form gives factual information about you. Your agency social worker and you are asked to:
1) Provide details of your adoption agency.
2) Provide your details.
These include the language you speak at home, your religion, ethnic descent, occupation, and current or proposed hours of work. You are also asked to provide a recent photograph of yourself.
3) Outline the children in your household.
This includes their ethnic descent, the type of school they go to, and their relationship to you.
4) State what type of care you are offering.
There are several options - including 'adoption', 'long-term fostering', 'adoption (with an adoption allowance)', etc.
5a) Consider the type of child or children that you will be eligible to adopt.
There is a detailed checklist included, which is to be completed only after a full discussion has taken place between you and the agency social worker regarding the issues involved. The checklist is intended to reflect a mutually-agreed position between you and the agency, outlining what you all agree would be the most appropriate type of child(ren) for you to adopt.
It begins with an outline of the children:
First, the age range - for example, that you will be allowed to adopt a child or children between the ages of 4 and 9. If you already have children all adoption agencies will want any adopted child to be at least two years younger than the youngest. Some agencies insist on a greater age gap.
Secondly, the number of children you will be allowed to adopt - one or perhaps a family group of two or three, or even more.
Thirdly, what gender child(ren) will you be suitable to adopt.
Fourthly, would you be capable of looking after a child or children from a different ethnic or religious background to yourself?
There then follows a comprehensive checklist
Detailing various possible characteristics and backgrounds which you and the agency agree it would or would not be appropriate for you to consider in an adoptive child. There are over forty possibilities, so the following is only a selection:
Children with hearing impairment.
Children with severe learning difficulties.
Children who may have been physically abused.
Children who are unlikely to make relationships easily. etc.
5b) Describe you and your family.
This covers you and your family's personalities, interests, experiences etc. It is designed to be a 'snapshot' of your family that will aid your adoption agency in the initial stages of matching you with a child.
6) Provide details of any other children.
For example, details of any of your children living elsewhere.
7) Provide details of other adult members who are part of your household.
For example, grandparents living in your home or a lodger.
8) Detail other significant adults who will have contact with any child of your household on a regular basis.
For example, a neighbour or a close friend who visits you frequently, or perhaps a baby sitter you use for children within the family.
9) Detail your accommodation, neighbourhood and mobility.
You need to outline your neighbourhood - its ethnic composition, its schools and recreational facilities, and the public transport that is available to you. You are then required to give a simple description of your accommodation and the proposed sleeping arrangements for your child. You are asked for health and safety information, and finally whether or not you intend to move house in the near future: and if so, what the implications of such a move would be for any child placed with you.
10) Detail any restrictions on pets.
What pets do you already have (if any), and would there be any limitations placed on a child who might bring a pet with her / him?
11a) Confirm whether or not you have a permanent home in the U.K, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
This is necessary for anyone who wishes to adopt in England or Wales. You also need to provide your date of birth and marital status, with confirmation that the appropriate documentation has been seen by the social worker.
11b) Describe your work and educational history.
This includes periods of raising a family, unemployment, part-time employment and voluntary work. You must also provide your National Insurance number for confirmation of these (where applicable).
11c) Detail the various compulsory checks that have been carried out.
These statutory references include police checks and personal referees. If you have a criminal record you need to make the agency aware of this and ask them if this would stop you being able to adopt. In many cases as long as you have not committed an offence recently and the offence did not involve violence against a child the agency may still be prepared to consider your application. You will also be expected to take a medical and complete a medical questionnaire. If you have concerns about a previous illness affecting your application you should speak to your GP about it. You may also have to prove that your mortgage payments (where applicable) are up to date. Other areas that may be checked include education and employer references (where applicable).
12) List detail of your home visits.
This includes the number of times the visits have taken place, and who was seen at each one.
You also need to describe the number and type of preparation group meetings attended, and to describe the ethnic mix of the group and aspects of the training covered, as well as your participation and what you felt had been useful. Any further areas of training that might be required should also be identified.
Finally, for those who have not had the opportunity to attend a preparation group there is a chance to list what preparation or training has been utilised instead.
13) Provide details of medical information.
The date of your medical examination, comments from the agency medical adviser, details of any physical, mental or emotional disabilities within your extended family, and details of any disabled children.
14) Give details of personal referees.
You are asked for the referees' relationship to you, the time that they have known you, and comments on the information they have provided. In England and Wales there is a requirement for the referees to be personally interviewed by the agency social worker, and a record of these visits should be attached to the form.
more follows on next page........