18-31 Services for adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents
18 Getting information
19 Getting a response
20 Dealing with your application
21 Being prepared
22 Being assessed
23 Completing the adoption process
24 The adoption panel - how it works
25 The adoption panel - its decision
26 The matching process
27 Preparation to adopt a child
28 Financial information
29 At the point of placement
30 Support after adoption
31 Adopting a child from another country
The adoption agency will tell you about the full range of adoption services and the processes involved in adopting a child.
1 The agency makes sure you are aware of the range of needs of children who are waiting for families, locally and across the UK.
2 You can be confident that the adoption agency publishes details of adoption services in a variety of ways, including libraries and online.
3 You know that the information published is accessible, in plain English, and in a language and format you can understand.
4 You have the opportunity to gather information in a way which does not commit you to further involvement with the agency.
5 You are given information about the agencies recruitment strategies, including the way in which it makes sure it recruits from a wide range of adoptive parents.
6 The information you receive includes details of the costs involved in adopting and any financial help that may be available.
Getting a response
You receive a quick and thorough response when you enquire about adoption.
1 You receive a response with an information pack about adoption within seven days. The information includes:
- the agency's conditions for accepting applicants;
- the preparation and assessment process;
- information about children who need to be adopted in Scotland;
- support services after a child has been adopted;
- charging and payment policies and financial help that may be available to adopters;
- representation and complaints procedures;
- the appeals process; and
- policy on criminal record checks on adoptive parents.
2 You receive written information about step-parent and other family adoption within seven days.
3 If you are a potential adopter of a child from overseas, you learn from the agency where you can obtain information on the criteria of other countries.
4 You know that the agency has details of services on the Internet and responds to e-mail enquiries.
5 You can be confident that the agency tries to make information available in the language that you choose and other formats such as audio tape, Braille and large print.
6 You are offered a first interview with a social worker who knows about adoption within four weeks. You are told about the assessment that is carried out if you decide to go ahead, and the responsibilities you have in addition to those normally expected of birth parents, such as dealing with the child's history and possible links with the child's birth family. You know about the help available to meet these responsibilities.
7 You are confident that agency social workers have knowledge of domestic, inter-country and step-parent adoption.
8 A social worker is identified who speaks your first language, or an interpreter is provided.
Dealing with your application
You are dealt with openly and sensitively if your application cannot be taken forward.
1 You receive a written explanation from the agency if, following your enquiry and first interview, your application cannot be accepted.
2 You receive information about procedures for reconsidering applications.
3 If the agency considers that your application could be accepted by another agency, it will provide you with information about that agency.
You are confident that the adoption agency will use the most effective preparation and assessment methods available.
1 You are confident that, where possible, preparation arrangements include hearing directly from social workers, adoptive parents, birth parents, foster carers and people who are adopted.
2 The agency helps you to understand:
- children's health, education and developmental needs;
- the effects on children over time of separation and loss, abuse and neglect;
- the implications of contact with birth families; and
- legal issues.
3 You are confident that the adoption agency meets regulations and guidance in recruiting and preparing families.
4 You are confident that the agency social worker has specialist knowledge of adoption and the effect that adoption has on everyone involved.
5 You have your own social worker who contacts you regularly and is readily available.
6 You have access to your social worker's manager and can discuss the assessment with him or her.
You take part fully in the preparation and assessment process, and are told about any specific issues that must be dealt with before the application can continue.
1 You receive regular feedback on how the assessment is progressing.
2 If any difficulties arise during the assessment, there is an early opportunity to discuss the issues with the adoption panel.
3 You contribute to the assessment and sign it. Any disagreements are recorded.
4 If you have children the agency consults them to find out what they think about your intention to adopt.
5 You are treated with sensitivity, respect and dignity throughout the preparation, assessment, approval and matching process.
6 You can provide written feedback on the process.
7 You know that the final report will clearly show whether the content relates to a domestic (Scottish or UK) or overseas adoption.
Completing the adoption process
You are confident that the agency will do everything it can to make sure the adoption process goes ahead as soon as possible.
1 You are confident that, from the date of the initial interview until the recommendation to the adoption panel, the agency will aim to complete the assessment process within six months.
2 You know that the court report from the adoption agency social worker in relation to a step-parent or family member adoption is submitted to the court within 12 weeks of statutory notification.
The adoption panel - how it works
You can be confident that the agency's adoption panel and decision-maker work in a way that is legal, open and fair.
1 You know that the agency's adoption panel and decision-maker work in line with relevant statutes, regulations and guidance.
2 You know that the adoption panel is made up of people with a range of knowledge and experience of adoption, including representatives who use or have used adoption services.
3 You know that adoption panel members undergo local authority and police checks, and sign a confidentiality agreement.
4 You know that the agency's procedures and practice show a clear distinction between the adoption panel's duty to recommend and the agency's responsibility to decide.
5 If you choose to attend the agency adoption panel, you will be supported to prepare for it.
6 You are told by the agency what the panel will entail and that going to the panel is not part of the assessment process but that you are entitled to do so if you wish. You know about the adoption panel's procedures beforehand, including procedures for reconsidering recommendations.
7 You are supported to contribute fully to the adoption panel discussion. You may be accompanied by a friend.
8 You know that the agency's social worker goes to the panel and what their role is.
The adoption panel - its recommendations
You are told about the recommendation as soon as possible and how you can ask for a reconsideration if you disagree with it.
1 You are told about the panel's recommendations to the agency decision-maker within 24 hours of the panel meeting.
2 You receive written notice of the decision about your application within 21 days. The letter makes it clear whether you have been approved for a domestic or overseas adoption and the range of children you are approved for.
3 If you are not approved as an adoptive parent, the reasons are given to you in writing.
4 The adoption agency provides you with clear information about the process of making an appeal against a decision.
5 You can be confident that the appeal process is independent of the decision-maker that made the original decision.
6 You know that the adoption panel will review your registration within two years if you have not adopted a child.
The matching process
You are confident that the process of matching children and families is published and that it is consistently applied by the agency.
1 You know that the agency has clear criteria for matching each child with a family.
2 The adoption agency makes sure that you have full information about the child, in writing. You will also have the opportunity to meet a range of people involved in the care of the child including professionals, foster carers and, in some circumstances, members of the birth family. You are shown photographs, and perhaps a video of the child if possible, and as long as the child's rights to confidentiality are protected.
Preparation to adopt your child
You are fully prepared for your role as an adoptive parent.
1 You know about a child's ethnic, cultural, faith, language, emotional, health and developmental needs and potential future needs.
2 Care is taken to protect you from becoming too involved with a child you may not be matched with.
3 If you decide that you are not the right family for a child, the agency respects your views.
4 You can make an effective contribution, spoken or in writing, to the matching panel.
5 You know that, if a match is not made, the agency will offer you an explanation without breaching confidentiality about other applicants or parties.
You are told about relevant financial matters.
1 You can be confident that the matching panel recommends what legal expenses and allowances should be paid and whether adoption allowances will be paid or considered for the future.
2 You know that when allowances are agreed, they are paid from the time when a child moves in. If a commitment is made for payment of allowances in the future, this is recorded by the agency.
3 You can be confident that payments will be reviewed annually in accordance with regulations.
At the point of placement
You are consulted and fully supported during introductions.
1 Your views are taken into account about the format and speed of introductions and whether the child is ready to move.
2 You are supported in making sure that your child's health, education and other needs are met at the point of placement and will be met in the future.
3 You know that the agency will ensure that all statutory notifications are made, and that written information about your child is given to the GP with whom she or he will be registered.
4 The agency keeps you up to date with the legal process, what legal costs are to be expected and how these will be paid.
Support after adoption
You have access to a full range of support services after your child has been adopted.
1 The adoption agency makes sure that you have written information explaining about adoption as children grow up and about your adopted child's rights when he or she is an adult.
2 The adoption agency provides you and your child with access to independent counselling.
3 You are offered opportunities to widen your knowledge of adoption. This may be through meeting other adoptive families or going to relevant groups or meetings.
4 You know that the adoption agency makes sure that there is access to a range of support services to any member of your family, after your child has been adopted.
5 You can be confident that the agency has clear criteria for allocating adoption allowances. Where an ongoing package of financial support (including adoption allowance) is agreed, a written agreement is drawn up between you and the agency, which will be reviewed every year.
6 Wherever possible, you receive from the agency copies of photographs and letters and any other significant items about your child, such as a life storybook. The agency also helps you to keep them safe.
7 When you ask for support, a social worker will visit you within two weeks.
8 You know that, if at any time, the agency receives information about a health condition in a member of the birth family that could affect your child the adoption agency's medical adviser will tell you. Similarly, if your adopted child develops a hereditary health condition, you know to tell the agency, so that they can inform the birth family.
9 You know that the agency will assist at any future time in any review of the adoption.
Adopting a child from another country
You receive a quick and full response to any requests for placements of children from another country.
1 You know that the adoption agency will respond quickly to enquiries, telling you what is involved and about any charges that may be made.
2 You are offered a meeting with a social worker to discuss your interest, the needs of a child being placed from overseas and any conditions that apply. These conditions may be the agency's conditions as well as those imposed by the country where the child comes from.
3 You can attend a preparation programme.
4 Your assessment is undertaken by an experienced social worker. The agency explains what will happen at the adoption panel and that going to the panel is not part of the assessment process. You know about the adoption panel's procedures beforehand, including procedures for reconsidering recommendations.
5 Your application is dealt with as soon as possible. From the date of the initial interview until the decision of the adoption panel, the process normally takes no more than six months.
6 You have access to your social worker while you are waiting to be matched.
7 You have access to agency staff, including the medical adviser, at the time of matching.
8 You know that, if your child is to be adopted in Scotland, the agency will undertake or arrange supervision and support services and reports for the court.
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