Thinking about Adoption?

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1 Thinking about Adoption?

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3 DFW Adoption is a Registered Charity, a Not for Profit organisation, based in Durham and operating throughout the North East of England. We find adoptive parents for children from many different backgrounds, who cannot be brought up within their own families. DFW Adoption has 60 years of experience as an approved adoption agency finding families for children.

4 The principal activities of DFW Adoption are: preparing, assessing and approving a diverse range of prospective adoptive parents working with local authorities in the north east and nationally to place children with adopters we have approved providing support to adoptive parents and families all through the process of adoption providing a range of social and networking opportunities to adoptive families supporting and assisting adults who were adopted as children in their search for knowledge about their original birth families supporting and assisting birth families in their search for information about their adopted relatives contributing to regional and national professional developments and policies

5 The Staff Director Margaret Bell Adoption Social Workers Irene Redshaw David Harrop Helen Linforth Beth Miller Pauline Reed Gethin Richards Lynnette Swanson Finance & Office Manager Christine Mutch Admin Team Helen Brown Jan Stokes Christine Wilson

6 Are you able to offer a permanent family home to a child or a sibling group? There are many challenges to adoptive parenting and many rewards No one can tell you exactly what to expect through the adoption journey, but DFW Adoption will support you at every stage of the process

7 This leaflet aims to answer some of your questions about adoption Adoption is a process by which children gain new legal parents and become full members of a new family. In law, adopted children are treated as if they had been born into their adoptive family. An adoption order is not time limited and once made cannot be revoked. The adoptive parents acquire exclusive parental responsibility for the child. Anyone who previously held parental responsibility for the child loses it once the adoption order is made. All legal relationships that the child had with parents, siblings and other family members prior to adoption are severed permanently. Adoptive parenting presents unique challenges of caring for children who may have been emotionally affected by trauma and harm in their early life. It is also the means by which children who cannot be brought up within their own families can find the stability, love and security that they need to grow and develop. The majority of children who wait the longest for adoptive parents are aged four years upwards, sibling groups, children with a disability and mixed heritage children.

8 Who are the children? It used to be that the children who needed adoptive families were babies who were given up for adoption at birth by their parents. This could have been because the baby was illegitimate and born at a time when this still carried a huge social stigma. It could have been that the baby was born as a result of an extra-marital affair and the way to save the marriage was to give up the baby. There were a whole range of reasons and we are now working with many adults who were adopted in these circumstances as babies. This is no longer the case, and the number of babies relinquished for adoption by their parents is negligible. The children now who need adoptive parents have usually been removed from their parents by the courts. There is a vast range of circumstances that lead to parents being unable to look after their children satisfactorily, and you will learn more about this if you proceed through the process. The children are usually living in local authority care in foster homes and the options for them being brought up within their own families have been exhausted. They are children of all ages from birth up to early teens, boys and girls, sometimes on their own, sometimes with brothers and sisters. Some children will have been abused, some neglected but all will have experienced the trauma of being taken into care and separated from everything, and sometimes everyone that was familiar to them. Their individual experiences will have had an impact on their wellbeing and development and this will vary significantly depending on the child and their circumstances. They come to adoption with a history and with existing relationships with people who have been significant in their lives.

9 Adopters going through the process of approval are helped to think in great detail about the kind of child they feel able to parent, and the adoption social workers at DFW Adoption are there to provide advice and guidance about the needs of individual children and the implications of their background experiences. As an independent adoption agency, we receive details of children from all parts of the UK. We are not restricted to one local authority area. This can be an advantage because it increases the potential for finding the right match between adopters and children. One of the saddest things about adoption today is that the children who wait longest for an adoptive family are older children, often of school age. These children need families who can care for brothers and sisters together. The children understand what s happening to them and their sense of insecurity is made worse by not knowing how long they will have to wait for a family. The message therefore is that we need more adopters for all kinds of children but particularly for: children aged between 4 and 9 years of age for brothers and sisters who need to stay together children who have a physical or learning disability children from mixed heritage backgrounds

10 Who can Adopt? Marital status Married couples and single people can apply for an adoption order. Additionally, the Adoption and Children Act 2002, which was implemented in December 2005, for the first time allows unmarried and same sex couples to apply jointly for an adoption order. Criminal convictions We require all adoptive applicants to apply for a CRB enhanced disclosure. This means that all convictions and cautions are disclosed, even those which would normally be classified as spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act Some convictions relating to offences against children would automatically bar you from being considered as an adopter. Other offences would be considered in relation to the nature and circumstances of the offence, the age you were when you committed the offence and the number of offences of which you had been convicted. Many minor convictions will have no real relevance to your application to adopt. If you decide to apply to adopt you need to discuss with us any convictions against you so that we can advise you accordingly Age There are many myths around about how old you have to be to be able to adopt and some people still believe that if you re over 35 years of age you are too old. This is not the case as there are no automatic restrictions to age. The law says that you have to be over 21, but it does not set an upper age limit. We currently have very successful adopters of all ages. All kinds of people are suitable to adopt. We consider all your circumstances in deciding whether you will be suitable to adopt, and what kind of child you will be able to parent. Your age is one of the factors we consider alongside your health and lifestyle, and the age of the child you may be thinking about adopting.

11 Health and Lifestyle There are many stories about people being turned down for adoption because they are overweight or because they smoke. In relation to smoking our view is that we would not approve a smoker as an adopter for a child under 5 years of age, and we would discourage any adopters from smoking anywhere near their children. We would, however, support prospective adopters to stop smoking and would need to be confident that this had been achieved for 12 months. All prospective adopters are required to have a medical examination done by their GP. The only conditions that would raise concern would be those that limit your life expectancy, or in some way inhibit your ability to care for a child into adulthood. We need to be as sure as we can that you are going to be able to care for your adopted child/ren for the rest of their childhood. So for example, being overweight may not be a problem, but being overweight with high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle and a family history of heart disease may be. Talk to us if you are worried that you have a physical or mental condition which may prevent you from going ahead. Experience as a parent Many adopters who are childless and come to adoption because they can t have their own children. Some adopters have brought up their own children but feel they have more to give. We have adopters who have children from a previous relationship either living with them or living with their ex-partner.

12 An issue for childless, prospective adopters could be that they have no experience of parenting to fall back on and we need to accommodate that during preparation and assessment. Consideration could be given to you gaining experience in a voluntary capacity, for example in a nursery. An issue for prospective adopters who already have children either living with them or visiting, is that their existing children s needs have to be thought about during assessment and matching. We provide an independent children s worker to consider these issues with you. Many differing circumstances are taken into account but we know from experience that all kinds of families can successfully adopt and we welcome enquiries from a wide range of people. Religion and culture Although we are an adoption agency linked with the Anglican Church, we welcome adoptive applicants from all faiths or none. We also welcome applicants from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures.

13 What happens next if I wish to apply? You will be initially contacted by telephone and an Enquiry Form, with basic information about you, will be completed Following an initial home visit, if all parties are happy, you will be invited to an Information Day, after which an Application Form will be offered. We will invite you to a Preparation Group - a series of group meetings with other adoptive applicants where you will learn in much greater detail about modern day adoption and the needs of children who are waiting for adoptive parents. The Preparation Group is the first stage of your assessment. Following the Preparation Group you will have an adoption social worker who will meet with you and your family regularly over a period of approximately 4 months. The social worker will discuss with you many aspects of your life and the possible impact of your past experiences. You will need to have a medical examination by your GP. We are required to undertake a range of checks on all adoptive applicants. These checks include CRB disclosure, Social Services Department, NSPCC and possibly Education Department, Health Authority and CAFCASS, if you already have children. The purpose of these checks is to eliminate anyone who is considered to be a risk to children. At the end of the assessment the adoption social worker will prepare a report to be submitted to the Adoption Panel. You may contribute to the report if you wish, and your personal written contribution is always valued. You will also be given a copy of the report and invited to submit any comments to the Adoption Panel. You will be given the opportunity to attend the meeting of the panel when your application is being considered. The panel will make a recommendation as to whether you should be approved as an adoptive parent, and the agency makes the final decision. DFW Adoption is committed to working with you openly and honestly. We try always to ensure that you understand what is happening and why. If there are any concerns or difficulties arising from your checks or during your assessment, we will discuss these with you at the time. We want to hear your comments on our work, particularly if you have ideas about how we can improve. When you attend the Adoption Panel, you will be given the opportunity to complete a feedback questionnaire.

14 How do I find out more? Deciding to adopt is a major step, and you will need the opportunity to spend time thinking and talking about how it would affect your life. We offer you the opportunity to meet informally with one of our adoption social workers who will be able to answer more of your questions, and talk through any particular worries you may have. You may decide then that you are ready to go ahead and make an application, you may want more time to think about it or you may decide that adoption is not right for you. We will respect whatever you decide. If you want to go to the next step and meet with an adoption social worker, please complete the enquiry form on the website, or , or contact us at: DFW Adoption Agriculture House Stonebridge Durham DH1 3RY Tel: Fax: Website: WE LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU

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16 Agriculture House Stonebridge Durham DH1 3RY Tel: Fax: DFW Adoption is a registered charity [Registered Charity Number ] DFW Adoption is a company limited by guarantee [Registered Company Number ] May 2012

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