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Adoption rules and agencies vs LA

Avocado April 25, 2019 20:05

Prospective adopter here and trying to get an idea of how this works. Are there laws regulating the adoption procedure or are the SWs free to make up their own rules?

I've been reading these forums and making notes but there is much conflicting information. Posters are given entirely different advice by their SWs it seems!

We went on a couple of info nights and often the SW answered questions with "my manager will decide". When people pressed, asking is there a rule to give us an idea? The SW would say yes, there is a rule (say there is a 5 year time limit on a requirement) but even if you fulfil the rule, my manager still will decide in the end.

They didn't even try to give the impression that the procedure is concrete and universal, they kept saying, sure we have some guidelines but the final decision is up to us!!! It felt quite wrong and we are not going back with them, now planning more info nights with other organisations.

Same thing I see on here:

Some people do 10 days of voluntary work with children across the year, others are in rainbows for 2 years now and are told they need to diversify their volunteer work. Some were told there is a 45 year gap between adopter and child, others got babies when both parents were over 50. Some are told at matching stage to register interest in no more than 2 child profiles, others were told 5 at a time. One SW told a poster their BMI should be 40, another told them 35. What are the actual rules?

Also, one last thing, is a voluntary agency or local authority the best way to go?

Any advice appreciated,

Avocado

MellowGreens April 25, 2019 20:42

There is statutory guidence on adoption, but in many things different agencies and organisations have their own requirements and peculiarities. In addition at different times they may have a different range of children's needs they are recruiting for.

Often, in my opinion, it can be useful to contact a few local authorites and VAs located near your home and see which one you have the best interaction with.

Avocado April 25, 2019 20:55

Wow thanks MellowGreens! I just googled what you wrote, 'statutory guidance for Adoption uk' and found the .gov.uk site with a 244 page document!

Which I'm going to scan through and finally get some actual info.

Thanks ever so much!

Did you go with VA or with LA, if you don't mind me asking?

Edited 25/04/19
MellowGreens April 26, 2019 09:03

I adopted via an LA, although when first contacting various places there were several LAs that put me off and some VAs that were encouraging. I actually think it can have as much to do with which social worker you speak to as it does which organisation they work for.

If I had paid any attention to the first person I spoke to at an LA when I called in I never would have adopted at all. It is the best thing I have ever done so don't let your first few contacts put you off.

Edited 26/04/19
Avocado April 26, 2019 22:05

Thank you, it's good to know I'm not the only one feeling this way! We will book more info evenings over the summer. Very grateful for your help, MellowGreens!

Edited 26/04/19
chestnuttree April 27, 2019 20:59

Same here. Our first contact wasn't exactly encouraging. However, we just would not have been suitable for the children that LA was looking to place at that time. We went with a VA in the end and they were excellent.

It might be good to keep in mind though that LAs "have" the children and place the very young and easy to place ones mostly themselves. VAs mostly place older and harder to place children. Harder to place does not equal harder to parent though. It can just mean the parents need to be of a certain ethnicity. Or for some reason the LA has not been able to find a suitable match and are now starting to look nationwide.

I would look for the right chemistry between you and the agency. The agencies can only make so many rules universal, because people are different. Someone might learn what they need to learn very quickly, while it takes someone else much longer. Different people need to work through different things. You have to trust your social worker and their expertise. We are 7 years into our adoption and I still sometimes think of things my sw said. She was very experienced and wise and I learned heaps from her. If she had told me to volunteer for a year, I would have done it. Don't loose heart and good luck!

Vegpatch September 11, 2020 18:09

Hi all. We enquired with our LA but when they asked was our house done up and we said no, they said do your renovations and then apply in earnest. Good advice. We might have gone with our LA but knew someone who had already adopted and said the post-adoption support, courses and events were good/better than with an LA so we followed suite. Our process was straightforward: info day, expressed our interest in starting, initial interview, paperwork/checks, acceptance to training course, more paperwork and checks, approval pane (via Zoom in lockdown!) acceptance to adopt, family finding...Aah, this is where the whole process slowed down for us. Everything has slowed down and our preferred profile does not come up much on LinkMaker so it’s a waiting game (VA’s don’t have children on their books; they only family find). The waiting is harder some others. When profiles are scare and you can’t attend Activity Days because of lockdown or your area suddenly goes into another lockdown and you are not eligible to attend, there is a lot of thumb twiddling. We have a good SW who is doing all she can but there is only so much that can be done. Apparently the court processes are picking up again and more children will enter the adoption system. We have already been waiting 6 months, but the average appears to be longer from what I have read, but you have to factor the effects of lock down in as well. You just have to be patient, I guess, and hope that your time will come. It’s hard because it’s so surreal and real at the same time. An adopter gave me a piece of advice; enjoy yourself and do nice things and treat yourself whilst you wait for a match.

To give ourselves the best chance, we have said we will go/drive anywhere no matter how far to facilitate a match. We are reading/learning about therapeutic parenting and other adoption matters and hope to start going to Activity Days soon. There are online courses but some have a cost implication if your adoption agency does not cover this for you.

Regarding Avocado’s post, I have heard that the ‘rule of 40 (years)’ I think it’s called, no longer applies. I have only seen a few profiles where a max. age limit was specified and that was because the children were energetic. As well as geographical preferences (e.g. you cannot adopt if you live here or here due to birth family location), there are sometimes preferred ethnicities, religions, family situations (e.g. no birth children), etc. that would benefit the child. Sometimes you see a profile/profiles you like, it you won’t be eligible or get a look in.

Whenever we expressed an interest, despite help from our SW, the responses would vary: no reply, no thank you, slow, delayed, some information but not the CPR or not enough for us to make a decision about whether we wanted to proceed, a ‘glossy’ profile that did not really match the CPR or follow-up information on the child. This is the hardest part of the process. You have to suck it up and as you learn more you can start to see how complicated it all is.

We’re still happy we went with a VA, though, as we have heard that with some LAs they sometimes try to foist the child/children at the top of their list on you and you might have little say in the matter. I don’t know how often this is the case but it’s worth considering. We feel we have more control of our choice. Fingers crossed!

Fiona September 15, 2020 17:49

Hi Vegpatch, this was an interesting post and I totally relate to your comments. I too was approved during lockdown having gone through the process with a VA and am now just trying to manage my own expectations of the next stages, frustrating is certainly one word for it. Where I have noted interest, as like yourself, I have either had no response or a rejection due to location. I have not even got as far as obtaining any further information on any specific child yet. My SW is great but coming from a business background I am really struggling with having to pass the control to someone else and not being able to, for want of a better word, market myself and network. Do you note interest directly or does your SW do it on your behalf?

I am finding LinkMaker quite limited for my profile choice also and on reflection wonder if I would have been better going with my LA, I have heard of matches being considered at the same time as being approved! I think I have also convinced myself that my LA have more children than is possibly the case, statistics on this are hard to obtain.

I have also heard great comments about matches from Exchange days but given the present situation with COVID-19 this is not happening.

I suppose once you get approved you really believe it is all happening finally and allow yourself to start getting excited and plan.

Edited 15/09/20
JoandAlex November 13, 2020 07:29

I’m with an LA and our SW put us on LM the day we went to approval panel, it’s a similar issue with COVID where the children don’t have POs yet so it’s slow everywhere. We have one EOI open in LM at the moment that we are waiting to hear on so fingers crossed ? - I completely appreciate with what you are saying Fiona, I’m finding it hard to not be more persistent. What’s helping is I’m trying to keep it front of mind that Linkmaker isn’t for us, it’s for the children and it could all be moving fast behind the scenes - I just don’t get to see that part!

Vegpatch November 14, 2020 23:08

Thanks, Fiona. We are in a similar position to you and feel pretty much the same way. We are not in full control and have few ways to market ourselves. You can't simply send out your profile to agencies of your own volition. The exchange day we could have attend was an opportunity to chat to SWs and FFs via video link in a room in another city that we would have had to drive to...hardly enticing! Due to our ineligibility to attend due lockdown restrictions or event cancellations we have only been able to attend two Activity Days since lockdown in March. This is really frustrating because it is so powerful and important meeting the children in real life in 3D. I hope someone at LinkMaker is reading this because the quality of photos of the children on this site is so poor; too small, taken at different ages, poor quality, too far away. Sometimes it's hard to see what they really look like. I read somewhere that there was going to be a push on uploading videos. These are still few and far between. The ones I have seen are great and give you a feel for how the children act and play. So much more could be done on this site! We went to the effort of uploading good photos of us that show a range of things and made and edited a clear and informative video. I don't see what's stopping FCs doing the same. I probably sound bitter but I'm not; it's 2020 and everyone's got an iPhone or similar nowadays...point and shoot!

We have the feeling that 'easier to place' children get snapped up by adopters with LAs and adopters like us who are with VAs can only see harder to place children on LM and only get told about harder to place children by their SW or family finder. I know that VAs work hard behind the scenes and lots of meetings and connections across the country. We express interest directly on LM then our SW follows up. We have only read about 2 or 3 real-life CPRs as we have been turned down at the initial interest stage on geographical or other grounds. There is often little feedback, not the SW's fault. The child's/children's agency simply says to our SW 'other couples are being considered'. There are not many profiles that match our criteria coming up at the moment as we are not looking to adopt boys. There seem to be mainly boys coming on to the site. Apparently, these thing happen in waves. We were expecting things to pick up at the end of lockdown 1 but they have slowed down again. We have been approved for over 6 months now and, although that may not sound like a long time (average time to adopt 6-18 months approx. ???), it feels like it when some adopters find or make a match just or soon after approval panel. It's down to luck and that's what we have to live with.

Your comment about whether one might be more successful with a LA is pertinent. You would have better access but might have less choice as your LA might not have many suitable profiles at the time of your approval.

Anyway, those of us who have to wait longer get to save up a bit more and get the necessary DIY/ nesting sorted. It's keeping us sane anyway...Keep the faith everyone. Someone recently told me 'when you find him/her/them, you'll know'. I've heard that before elsewhere and so am clinging to that! You've got to hope this will be the case, haven't you?

toujours November 19, 2020 15:32

Hi all,

Reassuring to see these posts as this is how I feel too. Its fascinating how the doubt sets in after approval about whether we should have gone with a LA...

I found the LA open evening completely off-putting so we went with a VA. Our process took almost two years so we are probably more anxious than most to get things moving and feel very disheartened by the lack of responses on Linkmaker and the fact that our social worker is saying that there doesnt seem to be that many children around at the moment.

Fiona November 23, 2020 17:38

I am so glad it is not just me over thinking things and that others via VA's are feeling the same. I contacted my LA when I was looking into the process initially but compared with the initial chat I had with my now VA it was like night and day. I totally agree that it is probably more to do with the person than the organisation but luckily everyone at my agency is really supportive and encouraging, something I don't think I would really get at my LA. That may just be my background talking though as I have always worked for private companies where you are not just a number but a true person.

I actually contacted the LA again last week though, just to make some enquiries about what may be involved if I wanted to go through them, despite being approved by my VA in July of this year, and no one has called me back. I live in Scotland and last week was Scotland Adoption Week so they may have been very busy but on the whole not great.

Absolutely Vegpath I have heard the same about when you find the one and am holding onto that also. Despite all the prep we do to get approved no one really prepared you for this 'in between' part - it doesn't seem to be spoken about much, if at all. I just feel disappointingly in limbo now and with an uncertainty of not knowing how long I will be here.

Vegpatch November 26, 2020 17:24

Hi Fiona. I think you're right re agencies. Despite the long wait to date, our VA is supportive and our SW is good. She is pushing for us and doing all she can as far as I know. If an adopter is looking for a girl or girls without too many major issues then they have to wait and wait. However, there seems to be a flurry this week/month and there are more profiles that are not a single boy (of which there have been so many!) or two boys or boy +girl or groups of 3+ siblings.

Your response below absolutely hits the nail on the head regarding the waiting period:

"Despite all the prep we do to get approved no one really prepared you for this 'in between' part - it doesn't seem to be spoken about much, if at all. I just feel disappointingly in limbo now and with an uncertainty of not knowing how long I will be here."

Advice I was given by adopters and professionals was to enjoy life, do nice things, go on trips (not easy now!), decorate and child-proof the house and look after your partner (if you are lucky enough to have one). It's hard sometimes to keep one's spirits up but keeping busy is the best way to keep sane. Long walks, cooking nice food, lots of DIY and upgrading the house and preparing 'the room' are all good activities. We're not jinxing it, though, and have not bought any children's things. Call me superstitious!

I think I read somewhere that the average waiting time is 6-12 months. With COVID I guess you could easily add 6 more months!

What are other peoples views on 'limbo'? I'd love to know what other people are thinking or feeling...

*** Update ****

We found out today that we are going to zoom some SWs regarding a potential match in the near future. This has buoyed me somewhat but when you factor in that there are a number of other couples being considered, that the SWs might not 'like us' or consider us the best match, that we might get to meet the child in person only to not have any chemistry or that something else (unexpected) could go wrong THEN there are a lot of factors that could work against you. I, along with some of you, have already heard of the adopter(s) being 'pipped to the post' by another and having their hopes dashed for any or a number of reasons...It's just not straightforward.

Anyway (I should be more positive!), fingers crossed...

I hope any of you reading this find your match soon! They ARE out there!

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