I'm Jamie, one half of Daddy and Dad with my fiancé Tom. In 2014 we adopted siblings Lyall and Richard – cheeky little boys aged 8 and 9. I blog about our experiences as adoptive gay dads via our website Daddy & Dad and our Instagram feed.
Here, I take a quick look at the British adoption process.
The Adoption Process
The adoption process is designed to prepare budding adoptive parents for the realities of adoptive parenting.
The UK adoption process can be broken down into five key stages:
- 1.The assessment
- 2. Approval panel
- 3. Family finding
- 4. Matching panel
- 5. Introductions
During the adoption assessment, adopters are assigned to a social worker. Our social worker was lovely; a very well organised, friendly young lady called Michelle. First, your social worker will survey your house or apartment to ensure that it's a safe environment for kids.
Then, over a period of about six to eight weeks, you'll be assessed for your suitability as adoptive parents. You'll be expected to reveal some fairly personal stuff about your relationship, finances and any traumatic experiences that you've been through. It's not as intrusive as it sounds – in fact Tom and I found the assessment quite therapeutic.
A panel of experts are provided with your assessment report to peruse and then they interview you to iron out any issues or concerns from your assessment. Our panel took place in an adoption agency meeting room with ten experts; a mixture of paediatricians, senior social workers, teachers and MPs. I won't lie – it is nerve-racking but the majority of adopters that reach this stage are successful so don't worry. I'm a panellist myself now and I still get nervous every time – that said, it's reassuring for adopters to see a civilian on the panel!
After your panel interview, the panellists make a recommendation (yes or no) and a decision maker provides an official decision in the post… eek!
This is the stage of the process in which you choose your future children. However callous that might sound, you have to approach the family finding stage pragmatically because every gorgeous little child is accompanied with an emotional and often devastating bio. It's very upsetting reading, even for thick-skinned boys like me and Tom.
We found this process less upsetting when we stuck to our preferences. For instance, we knew that we wanted two siblings and preferably boys, so we were able to narrow our search down considerably.
Anyway, as soon as we saw Lyall and Rich's grinning little faces on their profile we knew that they were our boys, despite their traumatic back-story.
When both your social worker and the children's social worker are happy that you all make a good match, your assessment report and the children's equivalent report (can't remember what it's called) are presented to the Matching Panel. Another team of expert panellists will scrutinise the reports, discuss the potential issues and make a recommendation.
If the recommendation is affirmative, you can start to prepare yourselves (and the children) for the final stage of the process; the introductions.
By this stage, your children (you can safely start to describe them as yours, now!) will have been thoroughly prepared to move on from their foster accommodation and will know who you are, through photos and videos.
But, unless you found your children during a family finding party or event, you won't have met them yet. Scary stuff, eh?!
The introductions usually happen in the children's foster care setting, in the company of their foster carers and social worker.
Prepare yourselves for the most beautiful but nerve-racking and emotional day of your lives! You can read about our introductions with Lyall and Richard here.
During the following few weeks you will gradually take on more and more of your children's daily routine in their foster care setting. When everybody is ready, the children say a tearful goodbye to their foster carers and come home with you. Get the tissues ready for that day… it's another emotional one.
And that's when the real fun begins!
Anyway, here were are – four years on and we're a happy, settled, loving family. Adopting our boys was the most wonderful thing we've ever done. We couldn't recommend adoption enough. It's magical.
If you'd like a more detailed (and revealing) account of our adoption process, you can find it on the Daddy and Dad blog here.