The Home Study / assessment
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The details on home studies / assessments are covered in our next five information pages. You are able to download a copy of the entire contents of these pages that you can print out at home. The link to this file is at the end of the fifth page entitled "Assessment Ends".
If you download this file it is provided on the basis that the document will be for your own use only. Students are granted the right to use this and any other material on the web site for any "truly" academic use as long as the content is attributed.
Deciding to adopt a child is a huge step. Naturally, potential adopters are apprehensive about what adoption entails, and in order to lessen this anxiety we believe in being as open as possible about the adoption process. For this reason the coverage given to this topic is quite detailed and lengthy. If you wish to skip this entire topic click here.
It might be helpful to take a brief overview of the various stages potential adopters go through during the assessment process. Please bear in mind that the following is a generalisation and that not every agency (social services department or other adoption agency) will always fit this pattern.
The First Step
Assuming that you fulfill the adoption agencies basic criteria (e.g on age, health, residence in the U.K, etc.) and are deemed after a brief interview or discussion on the telephone to be a potential candidate, you will probably be invited along to an Introductory adoption meeting. This meeting will give you the opportunity to find out quite a bit more about adoption and to ask as many questions as you want about the whole process. At the meeting you can start to find out how the agency conducts their home studies and gain a very rough idea of the likely time scale should you choose to apply. Agencies are likely to base this upon the priority your application might be given. For example if you want to adopt a very young child your application will probably have a lower priority than someone who wants to adopt an older group of siblings.
You should also use this opportunity to find out what the agency is looking for in prospective adopters, how adoption becomes the plan for some children, and what are the 'typical' difficulties and frustrations applicants often face, etc. If at the conclusion of the meeting or shortly afterwards you wish to pursue your interest further you may be invited to attend a 'preparation for adoption group'.
The Preparation for Adoption Group
These groups consist of prospective adopters like yourself and agency staff, and exist to acquaint you with the range of issues surrounding adoption. These groups tend to meet between 4 to 6 times, usually spaced over several weeks. You will usually get the opportunity to meet parents who have already adopted a child, and you may well have the chance to listen to visiting specialist speakers. The groups are a chance for you to question your own attitudes and beliefs in relation to children and adoption. They are also a chance for the agency staff to start to get to know you.
After the sessions you may be asked to think about your application a bit more, and then confirm to your agency your willingness to continue. Most agencies will not accept your application immediately, they want you to go home and to think about all you have seen and heard and to discuss the issues with your partner (if applicable) as well as family and friends.
The next stage, should you decide to continue is when you begin to receive 'home visits' from your agency social worker. Your social worker will talk to members of your household both individually and together during these visits.
Bear in mind throughout this stage that the entire assessment process is not solely about deciding whether or not you will make 'suitable' adopter(s) - it is also about providing you with information in order that you can decide whether or not adopting a child is right for you and your family.
The primary purpose of these home visits is to build up a comprehensive profile of you and the parenting environment you can provide, and to determine the type of child(ren) whose needs you will best meet. Most social workers will assess your suitability to be an adoptive parent using a document often referred to as the the "Form F".
Throughout this stage and in co-operation with you, your social worker will start to fill in your Form F. Upon completion if there are any points of disagreement between you and your social worker they can be recorded. Finally, having read and agreed to what has been written, all sign the document.
Over the next few pages we shall examine the assessment procedure, and in particular the structure and content of the form F which, once completed, is the major part of a final report that is submitted to the adoption panel.
It is important to point out that your social worker's role is to assist you through the adoption process, and to identify your needs and abilities to see if these can be matched to a child's needs. Ideally you will build up a close and honest relationship with your social worker, and the finalised Form F will reflect this, being arrived at by mutual agreement.
The whole process, from first home visit to being recommended by the Adoption Panel and then finally being approved by the Decision Maker, can take anywhere from about 6 months to over a year, depending on the agency, and on such things as how long you had to wait for the Adoption Panel meeting to consider your application.
more follows on next page........