Which agency?(8 Posts)
Dh and I have been talking about adoption for quite some time. Reached the point where we feel ready to approach an agency/local authority. Is it better to go to the local authority you live in or a neighbouring one? I've heard people say that your own local authority is not always best because of the possibility of birth parents bumping into the child.
Some LAs cover a very big area. Some are tiny (like, only for a town). I have found that the big LAs will only take you on if you live within their area, whereas the little ones will only take you on if you live outside of their area.
But I'm generalising from my own experience here... so what you'd need to do is contact both/all of them and see what they say!
The chances of bumping into birth parents is something that would probably be considered way down the line when you're talking about matching. The big LAs can easily move children around within the area and still get a good distance. So they would probably not match you with someone whose birth parents live very close by.
I enquired with every agency within an hours drive. I'd say get info from everyone who's willing to send it, then visit a shortlist, then decide which you want to go with.
I think Meita is right, big counties can take their own residents because there are enough different towns, leisure areas etc that you wouldn't have to be always looking over your shoulder; whereas small unitary authorities don't take people from their own area because there's only one town centre etc, so you'd have a high likelihood of bumping into birth family.
Depending on where you live, this might give you quite a lot of choice e.g. between the county you live in, nearby counties,a nearby city LA who only take external adopters, a VA etc. I live in a biggish county where there is also a VA based in my town, and ended up going with the LA of the neighbouring county. Although I'm across the LA border, the adoption team's offices are only 25 miles from my house, which is nearer than some adopters within the county and made me attractive to them because they will always have children they can't place in the county. At the end of the day I think an agency will take you on if they think they can match you - at my prep there were 2 families from within the (very large) LA itself, and 3 from 3 different bordering LAs. Good luck!
Above all, remember that adoption agencies vary hugely and you HAVE to find the one that is right for you. That means it is efficient and that it wants you because the children on its books need a family like yours. When I started looking at agencies I imagined that they were all pretty much the same, that they all assess to the same standard and according to the same criteria. But a friendly sw explained to me that adoption is a market and the most important thing is to find an agency that will "bite off your hand at the wrist" to get you on their books. I had a huge choice, living in London, but opted for the agency that was really keen on us and also very efficient in the early stages of our enquiries.
So I strongly advise you to talk to all the agencies within an hour's travel. Some will have their own rules about placing within the area (my local authority wouldn't take on prospective adopters within its borders, because it is the most densely populated area in the UK and nobody is that far away), but you may in any case eventually be matched with a child from another area entirely, as I was.
You could also check their Ofsted reports. And go to their information evenings - you don't have to commit to one agency till after that point.
We're also at this stage and so far the two LAs who we have contacted have responded in very different ways: the first clearly read my email and replied promtly with information evening dates, the second sent a generic letter with background info I told them I's already had and no mention of the upcoming dates. Oddly the second got the better Ofsted report.
So will have to see how we feel about them both when we eventually get to the point of choosing, hopefully we will know what Devora means, ie what to look for. It's difficult to know who will be most efficient and balance that with who may have children who need your kind of family.
We have gone with Coram and they were amazing. We know quite a few others who have gone with them and they all had very positive experiences.
What to look out for is the post-adoption support. Most agencies don't provide any or just the bare necessity. However, lots of adopters need post-adoption support at some stage. Coram adopters can go back for help any time after the placement - even years.
Local authorities have children to place. They assess you and check first if they can place one of their children with you. Independent agencies only have adopters. They find children for you who are in the care of a local authority. That has advantages and disadvantages.
One difference in going with a local authority or with an independent agency is that local authorities try to place their children first and you go on the national registry after 3 months. Indep agencies will put your profile up on the national registry straight away and will look nationally for children for you. We felt that was an advantage.
Because Coram works with our LA to oversee their Concurrent Planning, I'm not sure whether we can go with Coram themselves, everything seems to point back to the LA. Guess I should ring and ask!
Thanks for the feedback on them :-)
Argh, sorry OP, thought this was my thread, oops, sorry for the hijack there!
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