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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,


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 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


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