What you need to know about adopting a child

Adopting a child is a major undertaking and one that can bring enormous joy and lifelong fulfilment to everyone involved. However, it is also an emotionally charged process that needs to be handled with tact, care and the most diligent preparation and research. Here are some areas to consider when thinking about adopting a child.

Expert advice

Seek help from professional bodies and organisations that can help you early on in the process. This includes local authority experts and specialist solicitors who will be able to advise you and protect your position as the process moves through its various stages. There are normally numerous information evenings and open events for prospective adoptive parents to attend prior to putting in an application to gather information, meet others in the same position and ask questions. These should be attended wherever possible.

Look around

You don’t have to approach your own local authority when you begin the process. In fact, it can be more beneficial to go elsewhere for many reasons. The child may be better off coming from a different geographical area, either for reasons of safety or to help him or her differentiate between their old life and their new family set-up with you. Make sure you feel comfortable with the people who will be working with you during the process, as you will have to be very open with them for the adoption to be successful.

Open your mind

You must be prepared to be open, honest and flexible when it comes to being paired with a child. You will need to answer a lot of personal questions and have every area of your lives examined. Attend the preparation courses offered to you and be willing to communicate with the course leaders and your fellow would-be adopters. Often, you will not be able to be paired with your exact choice of child in terms of age, gender, background or ethnicity so you will need to remain open-minded. You may be asked to consider adopting a child with a troubled background, a physical or learning disability or a mental health concern.

Trust the process

Remember that your social worker is on your side as it is in everyone’s best interests for an adoption to succeed. You shouldn’t feel threatened by their questions, or put on an act. At the end of the day, they will be the ones presenting you to the adoption panel, so they must know you inside out, with no secrets or hidden skeletons to jeopardise the process later on. They are not asking you to be perfect, just open, resilient and able to adapt your life to caring for a child.

Stay tough

Finally, you will need to retain your courage during the process, especially if your application takes a knock or you are not approved straight away, it could be that you need to make some changes in the place you live, your financial situation or your own emotional mindset. Although it can be extremely hard to be turned down, try to understand the reasons why and work out how you can address any concerns raised so you can try again in six months or a year’s time if you still wish to do so. Don’t forget too that there could be external reasons why you cannot adopt just yet that have absolutely nothing to do with you. It could be that you are not a match for the children who are available right now, for example, or there could be administrative or financial constraints delaying the process. Stay calm, seek expert help and remain resilient!

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