Of the 65,000 children in care in the UK only a relatively small number of adoptions (3000) take place every year. This number has also been decreasing in recent years and the government has recently put in place some incentives for local authorities to increase the number of children being adopted.
This is a general guide on some of the key issues for someone considering adoption:
Who is Eligible to Adopt?
If you are over 21 years of age and can provide a caring, stable permanent home for a child you are eligible for the process. There is no ceiling limit on age, but there is a requirement that you are healthy and have the required energy for bringing up a child. As part of the adoption process applicants are required to undergo a full medical check-up.
You are allowed to apply for adoption regardless of sexuality, race, religion, or marital status. Employment status or disability will not serve as an impediment to applications. Once you have made your application an adoption panel will check the details. Even those with a criminal record may apply, unless the conviction is for an offence against a child.
Applicants do not need to be home owners, or wealthy. However, you must be able to show that you can support a child financially. If you are successful in adoption you will be eligible to apply for tax credits and child benefits to help supplement your income.
What is the process?
The first step in the adoption process is to make contact with a recognised adoption agency. A list of those in your local area can be found on www.baaf.org.uk. After you have made contact you will be invited to a public information meeting. Here you will have the opportunity to discuss the adoption process with social workers, adoption experts and adoptive parents. You’ll also be offered counselling to help you decide if the process is right for you.
If the result of the meeting is a decision to proceed you will then need to complete an application. If this application is approved by the agency you will then be invited to attend a series of preparation classes. At this point you will also be assigned a social worker. They will carry out a further assessment which will involve between six and ten visits to your home. You will also be required to provide two references from friends in addition to the aforementioned medical check.
The whole assessment process is lengthy and can take up to eight months. If you are successful then the process of finding a child will begin and this can take anywhere from a few weeks to over a year.
What employment leave am I entitled to?
If you have been in employment with the same employer continuously for more than 26 weeks prior to adoption, you will be entitled to statutory adoption leave. This may be for up to 52 weeks. If you earn above the lower earning-limit (£87 a week before tax), you are entitled to statutory adoption pay for 39 weeks.
If at any point during adoption – be it the initial application process, during further assessments, or when you are going through the final stages – you feel you are being unfairly treated in any way, then contact a family law expert, who should be able to provide you with advice and assistance.
Written by James Sheehan, a passionate blogger with past legal experience