Changing children s lives

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1 What is adoption? 01 What is adoption? Through adoption you can give a child a permanent, caring home and a sense of belonging, with the love and security of a stable family life guaranteed until they reach adulthood. Adoptive parents take full responsibility for a child, welcoming them into their family as their own son or daughter. Adopted children have the same rights as any child born into a family. This is made possible through a court order which transfers all parental rights and responsibilities to the new adoptive parents, giving the child a permanent, legal place within the family. Who can adopt? We welcome and encourage adopters aged 21 and over from different cultures and faiths, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, regardless of age, religious belief or disability, to apply to adopt in Kent. Applicants can be single, with a permanent partner, in a civil partnership or married. People who already have children and those who don t are both welcome to apply. Everyone is assessed in a fair and open way and will be asked to show they are able to safely and lovingly parent a child. To apply you must be a resident in the UK and be clear of particular criminal convictions, including those against children.

2 There are many reasons why permanently placing a child in a new family may be the best way to ensure that child has a stable, secure future. Changing children s lives Many of the children that we are looking to place in adoptive families have not received the consistent, appropriate care that they needed from their birth families, and finding a permanent adoptive family is the only answer. Adopters need to understand the child s background and accept that their upbringing may have been difficult. Bringing up children is rarely easy. However, people who have adopted tell us that seeing their children thrive, and being able to offer them the opportunity to change their lives forever, is immensely rewarding. 02 Changing children s lives Children who need to be adopted have usually had a difficult start in life, and need to be placed in loving homes where they will receive support and encouragement. It is unusual for babies to be given up by their birth parents and, while babies do get placed, they often have very special needs.

3 We are particularly looking for people to adopt children who: are in sibling groups who need to stay together are from black or dual heritage backgrounds have health problems, a physical disadvantage or impairment have a family background of poor mental health, learning difficulties or drug and alcohol dependencies Before moving to their adoptive parents, children will usually have been in foster care. What do the children need? All children need: love and acceptance security, safety and consistency physical care appropriate role models attention and stimulation fun, laughter, someone to turn to, and someone prepared to listen clear boundaries and acceptable discipline.

4 03 Who can be an adoptive parent? A wide range of people can become adopters. Adoptive parents need to understand children s past experiences and their feelings to help them deal with what has happened to them. Ideally, adopters need to be: adaptable and emotionally resilient open-minded and understanding of the trauma and loss the child will have gone through optimistic and energetic, with a sense of fun and happy to enjoy a child s company sensitive, tolerant and have a generosity of spirit able accept a child as they are willing to learn, while seeking and establishing a support network able to remain committed to the child through good as well as challenging times. Who can be an adoptive parent?

5 These qualities are often found in people who have developed good relationships and have a real interest in and involvement with others. Sometimes, their own life experiences contribute to these extra qualities. People considering adoption need to understand that it may take time and a lot of effort before parents of an adopted child start to see any results. Being a parent, whether by birth or adoption, is not an easy job, it can be both challenging and rewarding. What will I need to consider? There are some important questions that you will need to consider if you decide to make an adoption application. When is it a good time to consider adoption? When your lives are settled and no major life events are about to happen. It is not a good time if: you have suffered a recent bereavement fertility treatment was completed only within the last year your family is undergoing a time of major change, such as moving house, changing job, your child starting a new school you are experiencing financial difficulties. What knowledge of and experience with children do you have? If you feel your experience has been limited, let us know what you could do to increase it. What do you know about adoption and the issues facing adoptive families? Are you willing to learn more? Do you feel able to take onboard an adopted child s background and past history in a way that will help them understand why they were adopted? Would you be prepared to meet and maintain a link with important people from the child s past? If you have been unable to have children of your own, how have you been able to overcome this? Why did you decide to consider adoption as an alternative way to bring children into your family?

6 Kent County Council will prepare you for becoming an adoptive parent. Kent County Council will provide: advice and information from the start to help you consider whether adoption is right for your family a four-day course to prepare you for adoption additional information on all aspects of adoption during the assessment period the opportunity to meet and talk to other people who have become adopters with Kent County Council access to training events concentrating on different aspects of adoptive parenting, such as explaining adoption to children. Help and support 04 What help will I get to prepare for adopting a child?

7 What support will I have? Kent County Council will support you every step of the way, from your first enquiry to achieving legal adoption, and beyond. Before a child joins their new family, we provide prospective adopters with: a duty adoption worker to discuss your interest in becoming an adoptive parent adoption information events to give you a better understanding of the challenges of adoption visits to your home, where we can talk in private about your circumstances, before going further an Adoption Social Worker, who will be allocated to you from the beginning of the preparation course, through the individual assessment and adoption process, until the child who joins your family has been legally adopted carefully planned introductions to the child who will join your family a written adoption support plan for each child who is placed for adoption, giving details of all the arrangements to support the child and their new family an assessment of the practical support required, which will depend on the child s needs consideration of financial support. Some children may want to keep in touch by: occasional correspondence through the adoption agency - your address and identifying information will be kept confidential face-to-face contact arrangements with birth relatives or important people in the child s life. We are looking for people wanting to adopt who understand how important these arrangements are to support a child s sense of identity and understanding about the past, and that the child s need for contact may change as they grow older. Every adoptive parent needs support from time to time. This is available from both local and national adoption support services. Kent County Council s Adoption Support Service provides a range of services to adopters, adoptive children and adults, their birth families and relatives. What is contact in adoption? Most adopted children benefit from continued links with important people from their past, such as a member or members of their birth family, including brothers and sisters.

8 05 Frequently Asked Questions I would like to care for a child. What is the difference between adoption and fostering? Adoption is a permanent legal arrangement that transfers parental responsibility entirely Fostering is usually a temporary arrangement, and many children looked after by foster carers will return to their own families. Foster carers share the responsibility for looking after a child with the local authority (Kent County Council), and the child s parents. We are a white English couple. Can we adopt a black or mixed heritage child? Kent County Council will try to place a child needing a new family with adopters of similar racial and cultural origins. When this causes unreasonable delay to placement, we will consider adopters of a different origin, who have the ability to value and promote the child s racial and cultural background. Frequently asked questions Why do people adopt? a desire to have children a desire to have further children to provide a family for a child in need. Who can adopt with Kent County Council? anyone aged 21 or over people who come from all sections of the community and all kinds of backgrounds are welcomed, particularly applicants with different ethnic backgrounds a single person or couples in long-term relationships unmarried partners (of the same or different gender) can adopt a child jointly. Where do the children put up for adoption come from? They are usually children from Kent-based families Some children may come from our consortium partners (Medway, East Sussex, Brighton and Hove, Bexley and Bromley). Occasionally, children come from further afield. They may have been living with foster carers. Usually, the children have been separated from their own families by court order. I m on my own. Can I adopt a child? Yes - this has always been possible Children can thrive with single carers Adoption enquiries are welcomed from single carers.

9 How long will it take until we are approved as adopters? Under the National Minimum Standards for Adoption, the timescale for approval of prospective adopters should be no more than eight months from the acceptence of your formal application. However, there may be good reasons for slowing down the process, or putting on hold the assessment if there has been a sudden change of circumstances for applicants, such as bereavement. What is involved in the assessment? The assessment (known as a home study) is an opportunity for you to learn more about adoption and for us to consider your suitability to adopt, and what children you would be best parenting. This process will take several months, and is an opportunity for you to think through carefully whether adoption is right for you. You will be asked to have a medical with your own GP. The following checks and references will also be undertaken: Criminal Records Bureau Local child protection agency Personal referees Family reference Employment references Financial reference if self employed Significant previous partners Adult children. Your Adoption Social Worker will complete the prospective adopters report (BAAF PAR), which will be presented during an Adoption Panel Meeting, which applicants are invited to attend. That s followed by the Agency decision maker approval. What costs are involved in adoption? The usual expenses of raising children. No cost or charge for the assessment. Medical fees of approximately 75 for each applicant, and the cost of any medical updates. Legal costs are paid by the agency when birth parents do not agree with the proposed adoption. What are the first steps to adoption? Contact a Duty Social Worker to discuss your interest, using the telephone number given in your accompanying letter. An initial home visit will need to be arranged. You will be invited to attend a preparation training course. A home study assessment will be arranged. You ll be invited to attend an adoption panel for approval as prospective adoptive carers. How can I learn more about adopting? Becoming an adopter is a twoway process. We expect you to find out as much as you can about adoption issues, and we will offer our help. In addition, you can:: talk about the process with parents who have adopted a child, or anyone with direct experience of adoption increase your experience with children read some books with an adoption theme watch TV programmes on adoption topics search the internet join Adoption UK look for related magazine and newspaper articles. How long will it take for a child to be placed? It is difficult to predict. It is dependent on the children needing placement at the time,and the range of children you are able to parent. Most agencies are short of adopters for the range of children they need to place. Far fewer adopters are available for children over four years, larger sibling groups, and children of all ages with additional complex needs, as well as children from ethnic minority communities. We aim to find the right adopters for children within a few months, but sometimes it can take longer to ensure the best match is made. Kent County Council also has strong links with other local authorities in the South East, through the Adoption Consortium. If a suitable match for a child can t be found within Kent, we will work closely with our consortium partners to avoid delay in finding a child. Approved adopters have the right to be referred to the National Adoption Register after three months. The adopter s approval is reviewed every year, and advice given if no placement has been made.

10 06 Your next steps If you re still thinking of adopting a child with Kent County Council, please contact the County Adoption Team. Your next steps Should you need further advice or guidance contact the County Adoption Team on and ask to speak to the Adoption Duty Social Worker. Website: Thank you for your interest in the Kent County Council s Adoption Service

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