adoption 300

What is the Warwickshire Adoption service?

The Warwickshire Adoption Service recruits families for children who cannot live with their birth families and who require a stable, permanent home.

We prepare, assess and support people who want to adopt children in Warwickshire by providing expert advice, guidance and training. We also provide help for adoptive families by offering them a range of services to support them in the work they do.

We always place the needs of children first in all our decision making and actions. We therefore prioritise the assessment of adoptive families according to the needs of children we have waiting for families.

Currently our greatest need is for:

  • families who can care for larger sibling groups;
  • families from ethnic minority backgrounds;
  • families who can deal with health uncertainties in their adoptive child;
  • families for older children.

Children who need families

Why do children need families?

Warwickshire County Council looks after hundreds of children each year. For most, this is a temporary fostering arrangement, whilst their parents are unable to care for them due to ill health or other short term problems. For some, who have been removed from their parents because of concerns about the care they have received, this Authority will try to provide support and services to ensure that the children can return home.

In a small minority of cases, however, this is not possible and long term fostering or adoption will be considered as the best way of offering a child a permanent, loving and stable home with continuity of care.

Who decides that children should be adopted?

Sometimes parents decide that they cannot look after their children and ask for them to be adopted. Under certain circumstances, social workers may decide that adoption is the best plan for a child even when their parents do not give their consent. In this situation the Local Authority has to apply to Court for a Placement Order to allow a child to be placed with adoptive parents. In this case, a report is presented to Warwickshire’s agency decision maker, who decides whether to recommend adoption as being the best plan for the child.

When parents give consent a report is presented to Warwickshire’s Adoption Panel. The Adoption Panel is a group of people who have an interest in adoption through either their professional or personal experience. Councillors are represented as well as medical and legal advisers. An adoption can only be finalised by a Court order made at a Magistrate’s Court, County Court or at the High Court.

Who are the children needing families?

In Warwickshire, as in most parts of the country, there are very few healthy babies under 1 year of age needing adoptive families. However, there are many young children, particularly of school age who need adoptive families. There are often groups of brothers and sisters who need to stay together, and some children with disabilities needing special care. Warwickshire’s Children, Young People & Families Services Department decides each year the types of families needed for children waiting.

Most of the children we place have had difficult upbringings. They may have suffered physical or sexual abuse or may have been neglected and denied love and stimulation. They may also have experienced several moves and separations.

As a result, many children become confused and angry about what has happened to them. They need an enormous level of commitment, love and attention to help them recover. Their experiences may affect them for a long time, and be revisited at different stages in their lives.

We also place children who have disabilities, medical problems or learning difficulties. In addition, for some younger children there may be uncertainties about their future educational abilities and potential.

What about the child’s birth family?

Whilst adoption severs all legal ties with a child’s birth family, some adopted children may benefit from keeping in touch with other members of their birth family. This may be through direct “face to face” contact or a “Letterbox” arrangement which is facilitated through the Adoption Agency.

Arrangements for contact will always take into account what is in the child’s best interests.

Can I adopt a child?


By inquiring about adoption, you have taken the first of a number of steps in the process which could lead to a child joining your family. You can apply to become an adopter with any of the agencies listed but you can only be taken through the approval process by one Agency.

Warwickshire Adoption Agency’s main priority is to find permanent homes for children in the care system. Upon application applicants must be in a position to undergo the home assessment process, and to be able to provide an immediate home for a child upon their approval as adoptive parents. Acceptance of applications will be prioritised

In Warwickshire you can apply to adopt a child if:

  • You are over 21 years of age;
  • You live within the county boundaries (or just outside);
  • You are a single applicant (male or female), or a married couple, or you are a couple in a stable partnership;
  • You have concluded fertility investigations (where applicable);
  • You have satisfactory references;
  • You are prepared to complete our preparation and training groups and undergo a home study assessment;
  • You are physically and mentally fit for the task;
  • You ( or one of you if a couple) are in a position both financially and through your employment to take up to 6 months adoption leave;
  • Maintaining continuity of heritage and identity is important for children so we welcome adopters who reflect all sections of the community. If you are an Asian, Black or mixed parentage family, we would be particularly interested in hearing from you.

What qualities do I need to be an adoptive parent?

All sorts of people can make a success of adoption. It doesn’t matter whether you are married or single, in or out of work, or whatever your race, religion or sexuality.

But you do need plenty of patience, humour and energy – children are demanding. Most importantly, you need to be determined to give a young person the sort of support that will really make a difference to their lives.

What qualities are we looking for?

We need all sorts of families for all sorts of children, but all adoptive families need certain essential qualities. You may find the Adopters Checklist a good guide to what you need.

The adopter’s checklist

  • Your marriage/partnership and/or support network of family and friends is strong and secure;
  • You genuinely like children and enjoy their company;
  • You can tolerate, understand and deal with difficult behaviour;
  • You can be satisfied with small achievements and accept that children may take a long time to show love and trust;
  • You have an awareness of issues of race and discrimination;
  • You are prepared to accept a child’s past history as a part of their identity which needs to be kept alive. This may include some form of ongoing contact with the child’s birth family;
  • You understand that adoption is a different form of parenting than caring for your own children;
  • You can recognise your own limitations and are able to ask for help;
  • You, or one of you, if you are a couple, are in a position to take several months adoption leave in order to consolidate a child’s placement with you, (both financially and from your employment).


What next?

Applying to adopt

What is adoption?

Adoption is a legal way of securing permanent families for children who cannot remain with their own parents. Adopted children lose all legal ties with their birth families and become full members of their adopted families.

Adoption may take place with the consent of the child’s birth parents who hold Parental Responsibility, or on the basis of a Placement Order obtained through a legal process.
An adoption can only be finalised by a Court Order made at a Magistrate’s Court, County Court or at the High Court.

Who arranges adoption?

There are nearly 200 Adoption Agencies in England, Scotland and Wales with over 20 of these located in the Midlands. Most are based in Local Authority Children, and Families Departments, but there are also some voluntary Adoption Agencies.

Adoption Agencies are responsible for:

  • Finding permanent homes for children;
  • Recruiting and assessing prospective adopters;
  • Supporting adoptive families;
  • Counselling adopted adults;
  • Supporting and counselling birth parents.

Does Warwickshire County Council act as an adoption agency?

Yes. Warwickshire County Council is an Adoption Agency. We are committed to a Permanency Policy which recognises the right of every child to have a loving and stable home with continuity of care. Where it is not possible to achieve this within a child’s own family, we believe that adoption can offer a positive alternative for children.

What will it cost me?

Adoption Agencies do not normally charge a fee, except in the case of Intercountry Adoptions. Voluntary organisations may ask for a donation. However, you will be expected to fund the cost of a medical examination. Legal costs (with prior agreement) will be paid for where the child is over 12 months old and parents oppose the adoption application.

What do I do next?

If you would like to know more about adopting through Warwickshire, please contact us. Any assessment we may undertake will include statutory checks with police and local authorities, and a full medical assessment. If you have any concerns about medical issues or criminal convictions, it is best to discuss them early on to avoid unnecessary delays later.

What can I expect?

Wherever possible we aim to: –

  • Offer you a place at an Adoption Information Meeting within 2 months of your initial enquiry.
  • Arrange for you to meet with an adoption social worker to discuss adoption and your particular circumstances after we receive your registration of interest.
  • Advise you within 5 days of the above meeting as to whether we will progress your registration of interest to adopt through Warwickshire Adoption Services.
  • Complete your ‘Home Study’ assessment report within 6 months of receiving your registration of interest to adopt, unless you chose to take a break between stage 1 and stage 2.
  • At any time in the early stages of considering adoption the Adoption Services Duty Social Workers are available to answer queries. These may be about adoption in general, or your particular concerns and circumstances, or whether it is the right time for you to proceed with an application to adopt at the present time.

Preparation and assessment


Adoption is a life long commitment. It can be a challenging but rewarding experience. The training and assessment that you carry out will prepare you for a child to join your family.

In Warwickshire, you are firstly invited to attend an Information Meeting. If you wish to proceed you will have a meeting with an adoption social worker who will recommend whether or not we should progress your registration of interest. If we do agree to accept a registration of interest you will be invited to our Adoption Preparation Groups, and then to take part in a Home Study.

What information will be required on the registration of interest?

You will be asked to complete a registration of interest giving personal details and the names of 3 personal referees, 2 non-related, and one family member. We will also ask your permission to make statutory enquiries from police, probation, health, and local authorities. If your application proceeds, you will be allocated a Social Worker to complete a Home Study Report.

What is a preparation group?

Preparation Groups are led by Social Workers experienced in adoption, who will give you information about key issues in adoption. These include:

  • Child development;
  • Separation and loss;
  • Managing behaviours;
  • Law;
  • Medical issues;
  • Contact with birth families;
  • Effects of physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

The groups give you an opportunity to discuss issues that you may not have thought about before and to ask any questions you may have. You will get a chance to meet experienced adopters who will talk about their own experiences.

The group is usually made up of around 16/20 people, like yourself, who want to become adopters. Most people find groups a helpful and relaxed way to inform themselves and get advice and support.

What is a home study report?

The Home Study is a detailed report about your family which will be presented to the Adoption Panel. A Social Worker will arrange to meet with you to learn more about your family background, your motivation to adopt and your support networks. You will be interviewed jointly (if you are a couple) and individually over a period of months. The Social Worker will also interview all of your referees, and will need to contact ex-spouses/partners, and grown up, or other children living away from your home. Home study meetings could be at your home, or at one of our offices. There is an expectation that you will try to be available during working hours, 9am – 5.30pm.

By the end of the Home Study you will have a good idea about the type of child or children who would best fit with your skills and lifestyle. You will have a chance to read, sign and comment on the Home Study Report before it is presented to the Adoption Panel to consider your suitability to adopt.

What happens if we are approved?

Your details will be made available for Social Workers looking to place a child in Warwickshire. Your own Social Worker will talk to you about any potential children and you may be visited by the children’s Social Worker. Sometimes more than one family is seen, so that the “best” match can be made. If you are selected, then the match will go before the Adoption Panel for approval.

What happens if we are not approved?

Applicants have the right to appeal the decision and this will be reviewed by the Director.
If you have any comments, positive or negative about the service you receive from our department, you can make your views known through our Complaints and Representations procedures.

Adoption panel

What is an adoption panel?

All Adoption Agencies are required by law to have an Adoption Panel to consider all aspects of adoption work. Key responsibility include making recommendations to Warwickshire County Council as the adoption agency whether:

  • a relinquished child should be placed for adoption;
  • applicants to adopt are suitable to be approved as adoptive parents;
  • a particular child or children should be matched with approved, adoptive parent(s) for the purposes of adoption.

Who sits on the adoption panel?

Warwickshire’s Panel is chaired by an independent person who has relevant professional and personal experience in the areas of child care and adoption. Other members include a county councillor, social worker staff and independent members who have personal experience of adoption or a professional understanding of adoption. There is a Medical Advisor and the Panel is supported by the Legal Advisor and Adoption Panel Advisor.

How does the adoption panel reach decisions?

Panel members receive reports from social workers about children who are to be approved for adoption; on prospective adopters; and on children where it is proposed that they are placed with particular adopters. If you have been assessed as a prospective adopter, your social worker will have gone through the ‘home study’ report with you and you will have the opportunity to attend the Adoption Panel with your social worker to answer any questions raised and clarify any matters within the report. The Adoption Panel members at the meeting will usually make a recommendation to the Head of Children in Need Service, who will make the agency’s final decision. In a few cases decisions may be deferred pending further information.

What happens next?

If you attended the Adoption Panel you will know its recommendation, but you will be formally notified in writing of the adoption agency’s decision verbally within 2 days and in writing within 5 days. If the outcome is not to recommend your approval as prospective adopters, you will be advised of the Independent Review Mechanism where you may request for your circumstances and the recommendation of the Adoption Panel and adoption agency to be reviewed.

What happens after approval?

If you are an approved adopter your details will be placed on a list of approved adopters which will be considered when children’s details are presented at the Placement Allocation Group. The selection of adopters for a child will depend on the child’s needs and circumstances, and what each particular family available could potentially offer the child through adoption. It is not based on the length of time that prospective adopters have been approved to adopt. The details of approved adopters, with their consent, are passed onto a regional (West Midlands Family Placement Consortium), and national database known as the National Adoption Register so that children from other areas can be considered for placement when they have been approved for 3 months.

How long does approval last?

Prospective adopters within Warwickshire are reviewed annually. If there have been significant changes in the household in this period then a report is presented to the Adoption Panel. Police, medical and local authority checks are renewed every two years. A full reassessment is required after three years.

How is a placement match made?

If a suitable child or children are identified for you, you will have discussions with the child’s social worker and your own social worker. You will see photographs or a video of the child or children and you will have the opportunity to talk to people who know about the child, and the child’s history and circumstances. The placement may then be formally proposed to you and an Adoption Placement Report is prepared for the Adoption Panel. You have 10 days to comment on this report , which will also include details of contact plans and support services.

Is that the end of the adoption panel’s involvement?

The Adoption Panel will be notified when a legal adoption has taken place through the court process. The Adoption Panel will have further involvement if you decide to apply to adopt again as the Panel need to consider your new application in the same way as before.

Occasionally adoption placements experience difficulties and the Adoption Panel will be kept informed of these developments, or if a placement should end, this is called a disruption and a Disruption Review Report is considered by the Adoption Panel. This is so that the agency may learn from this experience, as research has found that a number of factors tend to contribute to placement disruptions.

Post Placement

Adoption allowance

Since 1991 Adoption Agencies have been able to pay adoption allowances in some circumstances. These arrangements have been updated in the light of new requirements in 2003 to support adoptive families. Their aim was to offer an allowance to people who would like to adopt children with particular needs, but could not otherwise afford to do so. The allowance relates to the special needs of individual children and will rarely be considered in respect of babies or very small children.

Who is eligible?

A weekly payment may be considered if a child falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • They already have a strong and potentially permanent relationship with their carers (e.g. Foster carers);
  • It is desirable that they should be placed with the same adopters as their brother or sister, or another child with whom they have lived;
  • They have a disability, or emotional or behavioural problems, and they need special care, at a greater cost, because of this;
  • They are considered likely in the future to develop greater difficulties or a severe illness, which would require greater expenditure. In this case, the allowance would be activated at the appropriate time;
  • The payment of the adoption allowance must be necessary to ensure that as adoptive parents you can look after the child placed with you, or to ensure that the child can continue to be looked after by you;
  • As an adoptive parent you may now approach the local authority where you live, at any time up until your adopted child’s 18th birthday, and request an assessment of need for adoption (including financial) support.

How is the allowance calculated?

Once it has been agreed that the child is eligible for an allowance, the calculation is made in two parts:

  • Firstly, there is a basic rate adoption allowance, the eligibility for which is assessed on the prospective adoptive parents income, and can fluctuate accordingly over time. Prospective adopters will complete a form which will allow Children, Young People & Families Services (previously Social Services) to work out whether or not they qualify for a basic allowance.
  • Secondly, there are 3 levels of additional needs-based allowances, which are dependent upon the child’s needs, not their carer’s income.

How is the application dealt with?

The Social Worker for the child will inform you whether an allowance has been agreed and at what level. Legally an adoption allowance is considered to be non-profit making, so it should not attract tax or affect any benefits. Once it has been decided that an allowance can be paid, you will be notified in writing about this. You will be told how it will be paid and how this will be reviewed.

What if our financial circumstances change?

When a child has been adopted, it is the responsibility of his or her adopters to let Children, Young People & Families Services (previously Social Services) know immediately if the child has ceased to live with them. Adopters agree to supply details of their income annually for review, and the allowance ceases when the young person gets a job or reaches the age of 18, unless they continue in full-time education.

What should I do if I am dissatisfied with the decisions made?

Initially, any representation about the amount of adoption allowance should be discussed with the Team Manager responsible for the initial placement. If no agreement is reached, a further approach can be made to the Assistant head of Children’s Services who will make enquiries in an attempt to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Failing this, an appeal can be made to the Customer Relations Team.


Contact

The idea of contact in adoption is a new one to many people. Contact means any sort of ongoing link between a child placed for adoption and his/her birth family.

Who arranges contact?

Contact Orders can be made by the court in connection with Adoption Orders, but contact arrangements are more often agreed by consent and negotiation.

The child’s need for contact will be discussed with you at the outset. We will help you to make a voluntary agreement with the birth family which can be reviewed if circumstances change.

Who is the contact with?

It may be with birth parents, but can also be with brothers and sisters placed separately, grandparents or aunts and uncles, or previous foster carers. It may take place once or twice a year, or occasionally more frequently.

Why have contact?

Contact should always be in the child’s best interest. Contact with the birth family should help to ensure that the child grows up with a realistic understanding about their past. If possible, one meeting will be arranged between the adopters and birth parents at around the time of placement.

What form will contact take?

Contact can be either through ‘letterbox’ exchange scheme operated by the Adoption Services Team, usually in the form of letters, photographs, or cards, through direct ‘face to face’ contact overseen by the relevant Children’s Team, or a combination of both.

What about the child?

The child’s need for contact will be assessed on the basis of the child’s age and his/her understanding of the past.

The previous experience of contact will also be taken into account. Alongside the child’s needs, the birth family’s capacity to maintain realistic contact without undermining the adoptive placement will be assessed.

What help will I get?

Adopters are prepared for contact during preparation groups and their home study. You will have the opportunity to consider the implications, both positive and negative for yourself and your adopted child(ren). In many cases, contact can help the child to have a greater awareness of their identity. Helping a child to keep these links is one of the extra tasks of adoptive parenting.

Over the years contact arrangement may need to change. We do not underestimate either the complexity or potential rewards from ongoing contact.

As part of its post placement services, Warwickshire is committed to helping you maintain contact arrangements, or adjust these as necessary.


Further support

Support for birth families

Many people have been separated from a child through adoption.

The Warwickshire Adoption Service can:

  • Sign post birth parents and relatives to an Independent Service for birth parents and relatives;
  • Direct to other organisations that could provide counselling, support groups and intermediary services.

Talk to someone

If you would like to speak to one of our Adoption Services team for an informal chat, please do not hesitate to call us on 01926 746956. We treat all calls in strictest confidence and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

When you call, you will need to speak to an adoption duty social worker, so please give a telephone number where you can be contacted and a time when it would be convenient for you talk between 9.30am and 5pm.


Online enquiries

If you are a relative who would like to:

      • gain information about who has been adopted;
      • potentially contact someone who has been adopted through a mediation service;
      • provide information for an adopted person.

you can also find out this information by completing our online form for an adoption enquiry by a relative.

Support for adopted people


If you are a young person or adult who has been adopted, you may want to talk about how this affected you.

Being adopted is a very positive experience for most people but we know that many people may still have questions about their origins and some may want to trace members of their birth family.

The Warwickshire Adoption Service can:

  • provide advice and guidance about the process;
  • help people over 18 to get information from their birth records;
  • put you in contact with other independent adoption services.

Talk to someone

If you would like to speak to one of our Adoption Services team for an informal chat, please do not hesitate to call us on 01926 746956. We treat all calls in strictest confidence and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

When you call, you will need to speak to an adoption duty social worker, so please give a telephone number where you can be contacted and a time when it would be convenient for you talk between 9.30am and 5pm.

You can also complete our online Adoption Records Request Form if you would like to make a request to see your adoption records.

Support for adoptive families

We provide a range of services for adoptive families who live in Warwickshire or have been approved. These include:

      • advice and information;
      • regular support groups for adopters (people who adopt) and their children;
      • workshops and training on topics of interest;
      • services in relation to therapeutic needs of a child;
      • a regular newsletter to tell you what’s going on;
      • family fun days and events;
      • the Adopter’s Mentoring Service – informal telephone support from an experienced and trained adoptive parent;
      • sign posting you to other services that might provide additional support to a family.

If you or someone in your family is affected by adoption, please do not hesitate to call us on 01926 746956 to find out more about the services that are available to support you or to be put on our mailing list.

Adoption Support Services Advisor _ ASSA

All local authority services must appoint a person to act as the Adoption support Services Advisor ( ASSA) In Warwickshire this role is held by Louise Hathaway, Practice Leader – lead on Post Adoption.

The role of the ASSA is as follows:

to give advice and information to people affected by adoption and act as a single point of contact to provide information, signpost to appropriate services and to advise on how those services may be accessed;

to give advice, information and assistance to other staff in the local authority on assessments of need for adoption support services, the availability of services locally, and effective planning for service delivery, in particular, supporting and facilitating intra – and interagency working where needed;

to give advice on good practice in adoption where needed;

to consult with, and give advice, information and assistance to other local authorities as appropriate, for example liaising between authorities where a family is moving between authorities to try ensure a smooth transition in the provision of support services.

Contact the ASSA

Louise Hathaway
Saltisford Office
Ansell Way
Warwick
CV34 4UL
Tel 01926 743072

In Louise Hathaway’s absence please contact –

Adoption duty 01926 746956

For lots more information please visit the Adoption support fund website.

The adoption passport provides support information for adopters.

Other agencies and organisations


As prospective adoptive parents you may wish to make enquiries to a range of adoption agencies before deciding where to make your application to adopt. This can include neighbouring local authorities or voluntary adoption agencies:

Useful organisations

First 4 Adoption
Supporting adults affected by adoption.

BAAF Adoption and Fostering
Leading UK wide membership organisation for those concerned with adoption, fostering and child care.

Adoption UK
Supporting adoptive families before, during and after adoption.

Talk Adoption
For young people with a connection to adoption.

After adoption
Offers support to anyone who has been, or is, involved in the adoption process, and provides Birth Records Counselling to adopted adults.

Gov.UK – birth certificates and adoption records
If you were adopted or if you’re a birth relative of an adopted person, you can add yourself to the Adoption Contact Register to express an interest in finding your family.

How can I find out more about adopting in Warwickshire?

If you are over 21 and you can provide a permanent, stable and caring home, and if you have the time and space in your life to care for a child or children, we would very much like to hear from you.

If you would like to speak to one of our team for an informal chat, please do not hesitate to call us on 01926 746956 or you can also express your interest by completing our online Register your interest in adopting form.


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