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A new online tool has been devised to help couples who are wanting to adopt.

The new service is called First4Adoption and aims to be a complete service for those couples hoping to go down the adoption route and the need for assistance for those wanting to adopt is clear. A recent poll suggested that over four million people in England would consider adopting and last month alone saw 4,600 children waiting to be adopted. It is estimated that over 600 additional adopters are needed annually to keep up with the demand with a further 3,000 being necessary to cope with the backlog of children waiting for homes.

The survey which found four million who would consider adopting, also found significant misconceptions regarding the type of people who can adopt and about the whole adoption system. Therefore prospective adopters should have an idea of the system they will have to go through in order to satisfy the necessary criteria.

Those who want to adopt will be allocated a social worker who will assist them through the whole process which takes up to eight months from start to finish.

The stages

  1. Initial application

After making initial contact with an adoption agency, the couple will then be invited to an information meeting and then asked to complete an application form. They may well also be asked to group workshops which can help them with any queries they have as well as putting them in contact with some couples who have already been through the process.

  1. Home study

This part of the procedure looks into the couple and their suitability for adoption. They will be subjected to around half a dozen visits from the social worker who will explore the family background, their relationships and their current circumstances. By the end of this stage the social worker will hope to have a much better idea as to the couple and their suitability for adoption. Other checks also take place at this time including references taken. The social worker records the information in a Prospective Adopters Report.

  1. Approval

The couple will then attend an adoption panel meeting which will decide whether or not they are suitable to be adopters. This decision will be given orally inside two days or in writing within five days. Couples not chosen can ask for a review through the Independent Review Mechanism.

  1. The wait begins

If approved, then the wait starts for a suitable child who needs a family. This child may be in the same local authority area as the couple themselves or maybe from a different part of the country.

  1. Matching

When a suitable child is found a meeting is arranged between the couple and the agency and an Adoption Placement Report is prepared, which then goes before the adoption panel who recommend whether the match should go ahead. The agency will then hold a placement meeting. Once this takes place then an introduction between the couple and the child will follow. There will usually be a series of meetings giving them the chance to get to know one another.

  1. Placement

The placement then begins with the child moving into the adopter’s home. The couple now have parental responsibility in law along with the child’s birth parents and the agency. Once 10 weeks have elapsed the parents can then apply for an adoption order which means the child is a full member of the family and can take the family’s surname