Preparing to adopt.
For many, the road to fatherhood involves a nine month journey. One that often includes eye opening antenatal classes, fuzzy images on ultrasound scans and midnight quests to supermarkets for pickles. One that culminates in hearing those words “I think the baby’s coming...
What to Expect
To adopt a child in the UK you need to be accepted by an adoption agency and go through a series of checks with them before you are approved to adopt.
Once you are registered with an agency there is an initial pre-assessment period in which a series of police, health and reference checks are done. You can use this time to undertake your own research and preparation. This first stage should only take two months.
The second stage (which should take about four months) involves training and preparation with your agency. A detailed report will be submitted to an adoption panel who will then decide if you are suitable to adopt.
Your adoption agency will begin to search for a suitable child or children to be placed with you. You can also take an active part in this search.
Your social worker will discuss potential matches with you and once a match has been agreed arrange a series of introductory meetings where you meet your new child for the first time.
After the introductions the child will move into your home and you now have parental responsibility (shared with the birth parents and the agency). After ten weeks you can apply for an adoption order which gives you sole parental responsibility and your child is now a full member of your family.
How to prepare
Think about your budget and childcare
Adopters are entitled to similar rights as birth parents concerning paternity and maternity leave. Check out what adoption pay and leave you and/or your partner may be entitled to.
Test drive those buggies!
Once you know the age range of the child you are likely to be matched with you can work out what you’re likely to need. Work out a basic kit list - i.e. nappies, cot, baby bath etc for an infant or bed guards, potties etc for toddlers. Don’t buy too much too early until you’re sure about your child’s needs. Family and friends may be able to lend you equipment or you can spend this time researching the best options so if you do have to buy a lot of kit at short notice you’ll know you’re making informed choices.
Preparing for fatherhood
Your social worker will make several visits, asking detailed questions about your family background, relationships, childhood and current circumstances, and interviewing other members of the household. Engage as fully as possible with this process to prepare yourself emotionally for fatherhood.
It’s good to talk
Build friendships and share support with other adoptive parents. Contact Adoption UK to find out more about support groups – including some specifically for Dads - in your area.
Book a holiday, tackle that big project, enjoy some lie ins while you still can!
You may be impatient to have your child move in with you but make the most of your last few months without kids - most adoption agencies request that adoptive parents spend a minimum of six months at home when a child is first placed, depending on their age, in order to help you to get to know each other and encourage emotional bonding.
All children looking for adoptive parents will have gone through a number of changes in their lives and some will have experienced abuse and/or neglect. Their resulting behaviour may be challenging. Adopters are entitled to a range of support services. Check these out now so you know what is available further down the line.
Adopting a child can be one of the most demanding, yet rewarding life choices you can make. One adopter describes the process of adopting his 14-month-old daughter as “a very challenging, but wonderful time. Your child is your child from the moment you know about them, whether they are a birth child or an adopted child.”
Adoption UK is a national charity that supports adoptive families throughout the adoption process: www.adoptionuk.org.uk / 0844 848 7900