Please come and talk to me about, well, adoption...!

(7 Posts)
JBrd Fri 16-May-14 16:17:33

Just that, really.

I am 42, DH is 44, and we have 1 DS (3 years). I have always wanted more than one child, and we have been ttc for nearly 2 years now, hoping for a sibling for DS. But it’s not happening, I have just had my 4th miscarriage.
I will readily admit that I am a bit all over the place at the moment, so please forgive my rambling! But I am considering my options – I don’t know if I can face continuing ttc any longer, and I feel that I don’t want to go down the fertility treatment route, as I can’t see it providing any more certainty for a successful outcome. But my heart is breaking at the thought that I might not have another child…

So, after watching an episode of the ITV adoption programme (by accident!) recently, I have started thinking, and I would really value any information or input you ladies are willing to share! I’ve talked to DH, and he would definitely be happy to explore this possibility, so that’s the first tick (of many, I guess!). I have not done any research about adoption, where to start and how it even works, but I was hoping that you might have some answers for the questions that are running riot in my head at the moment.

Firstly – our age. Am I crazy to even assume that anyone would consider letting us adopt?! Especially a baby/small toddler, which is what I would want (ideally)? We both work in good jobs (as stable as they come these days), decent incomes, house with plenty of rooms, our marriage is very good, we are healthy – but will authorities let you adopt at this age? I am very conscious that we are older parents, but this is one of the reasons I would love for DS to have siblings!

How long does the process take? Are we looking at years and years before you get approved and matched with a child? What expectations about timings are realistic? What is the shortest, what the quickest time people have experienced?

From my very quick scans through other threads on here, I get the impression that they want you to have a break between finishing ttc/fertility treatments, before you embark on the adoption process. How long would that break be? And how would you ‘prove’ that you are no longer ttc? I am not having any fertility treatments, so no problem there, but ‘natural’ ttc, do they want to see a contraceptive prescription or something like that?

I am not British, but Swiss, but have lived in the UK for nearly 17 years now – would that be an issue? DH is British.

I realise that this is all very random, but I am grateful for any information! Also, for any pointers towards websites, books etc. that I could start looking at to get more information that would help me to decide if adoption is for us.

64x32x24 Fri 16-May-14 16:47:59

Hi there,
so sorry to hear about your MCs. Of course you are 'all over the place'. When we were TTC after a (single) MC, I found it very hard, can't begin to imagine what it must be like after four.
We went on to conceive and had DS who was nearly three when we started the adoption process. We are also from abroad, have lived here for much shorter than you; I have British citizenship but DP does not. So you see we have some things in common! Nationality has never in the least bit been an issue.

Nor should your age. Not in the least bit. You would be youngish to average for adopting.

You would be 'allowed' to adopt a child who'd be at least 2 years younger than your DS. So HIS age may limit you. Some agencies we approached sent us straight away - told us to come back when he was 5, as the average age of children at adoption is 3 plus something. Others were happy to start assessing us though - as they have recently had more younger children to place. There are quite a few of us here who are adopting/have adopted after having a BC and it definitely can be done.

Since last year, the assessment/approval process is meant to last no longer than 6 months. It may take a little while for you to find the right agency (it took us about 5 months from the first phone call somewhere, until we were signed up); and you can interrupt the process after the first 2 months (stage 1), for up to 6 months. I have to say for us if we'd gone straight into those 6 months, it would have been too fast. In the time before, we did a lot of reading and thinking and researching, which then helped - the 6 months were just about right. We have very recently been approved.
After approval, it is a question of how long is a piece of string. We were proposed a tentative link the very day after approval panel! (Though can't say for sure if it will go ahead or not). Others have waited over a year for the right child. Much of this depends on how open you are. You'd be restricted to young children due to your DS' age. If, in addition to that, you'd be restrictive as to health issues/behaviour difficulties etc. that the child may have, i.e. if you'd only be willing to adopt a healthy (presumably white) baby under 2, you might find yourself with a long wait. The reality sadly is that children who need adoption don't have these kinds of backgrounds.

We have been asked to confirm that we are using contraception, that was it.

I found reading 'When Daisy met Tommy' (I think) by Jules Belle, very useful at the start of our journey. It is a real account of a family adopting; it starts when their birth daughter is about 3 if I remember correctly. Though things have changed since then, particularly the approval process/mainly the speed of it.

Yes, a break between TTC and starting the adoption process is usually required. Some agencies will 'count' from your last MC or from your last fertility treatment, others will ask you when you stopped TTC (but how could they check that I wonder?). Some will require 6 months, others a year. Some will require that you had counselling (to prove that you have come to terms with not having another BC). You'll just have to ask.

This is not one of your questions but you should know that you can inquire with as many agencies as you want. Usually they may consider you if you live within an hours drive or so. If you go to First4Adoption, they have an agency finder where you can put your postcode and find all agencies by distance. You could just call them and ask about their policy regarding how long to wait, ask them to send you reading lists, ask them if there are any information evenings you might go to to learn more.

Good luck!

64x32x24 Fri 16-May-14 16:54:12

Oh and First4Adoption is a good website for getting a first idea of how things work. And I forgot to say, it took us pretty much exactly 6 months from 'registration of interest' to approval, so in our case at least they managed to keep to the new timeframe.

Lilka Fri 16-May-14 17:56:40

Hi and welcome! smile

64 covered pretty much everything

In adoption, the ages of parents are skewed to the older end, and you are definitely not too old! You couldn't even be classed as older adopters IMHO, just as 64 said, you'd be a very average age to go through the process. I know a couple on my LA who adopted a 1 year old when they both in their early 50's, which made them older adopters.

Your nationality isn't an issue at all, the legal requirement is that a person has been habitually resident in the UK for at least 1 year. Neither parent needs to have British citizenship.

I think it's realistic to expect a 6 month (ish) timeline to approval once you are signed up with an agency, but accept that sometimes there are delays which may add a few months on. As 64 also said, it can be a really good idea to contact more than one agency, to find which one is the best fit for you. They should be enthusiastic about what you have to offer.

After approval, say it takes 6-8 months as an average, although it may be a bit shorter or take longer for some people, you are on to searching for a child, and this is very variable. None of us could say how long it will take, as it depends on a lot of different factors, for instance where you live and which children are in care near where you live, what kind of child you are looking for and what needs or background isues you are comfortable with. Being linked is what we call it when you have identified a child you would like to adopt but you haven't been officially identified as the childs adoptive parents yet - there is a process which usually takes a couple months+ where you get more information, the social workers interview you and make their decisions, you meet the foster carers of the child etc, all of which will enable you to make a final decision about whether you definitely do want to go ahead or not. Then you get booked in for a panel, which you probably saw on the TV program, and only after you pass the panel are you properly 'matched' with the child and can look forward to meeting them soon. Anyway, it can take weeks to find a child and be 'linked' for some people, for others it will take months. I would expect it to take a few months. Then you add on another maybe 2 months for the linking and matching process up until you meet your child.

All in all, the whole process is likely to take over a year, but it might be slightly shorter. It shouldn't be too much longer than that. It certainly shouldn't be taking 2/3 years nowadays unless there are really exceptional circumstances.

Because of the required 2 year age gap between your BC and new child, you'd only be able to adopt a young child. Unless you foster the child first under a concurrent scheme, you won't be able to adopt a very young baby, but you're looking at a child aged at the youngest about 6 months, but majority of waiting babies are 9/10 months +, up to the second birthday which is where you get out of 'baby' and into 'toddler'. Any child aged up to their second birthday will be classed as a baby really. And of course, all these babies have varying different backgrounds, and needs

My LA now expect at last 6 months post last fertility treatment, it used to be a year a few yers ago. They can't check whether or not you are naturally TTC but they expect you to be using contraception is there's a chance you could get PG without fertility treatment. They want people to have emotionally moved on from TTC/fertility treatment before they go through the adoption process, and they would be looking for evidence of that shift or lack of it, in what you say and do.

I definitely agree First4Adoption is a good place to begin, read about the process and look for agencies in your area

JBrd Mon 19-May-14 00:02:41

Thank you 64 and Lilka for your replies - those are all great starting points! Great to know that I am not completely off on a tangent here... I have started looking at the recommended websites and will get DH to start reading, too - it all seems a lot more straightforward that I thought it would be, at least in terms of the requirements of potential adoptive parents... The whole process is another matter, I'm sure!

Can I ask what your seletion criteria for your adoption agency were? We don't seem to have a great choice here in my area, only one is really close, all others that come up with the search function are quite a way away.
How often can you expect to interact with the agency, and how is that contact maintained - email, phone calls, or do you have lots of actual face to face meetings?

I'm still thinking that this could be an option for us... Lots of thinking needs to be done!

Hi JBrd I think you have had some good advice and not sure I can answer much more expect to say that in terms of an agency, you know that a voluntary agency do not have any children to place. Where as a local county council etc will have children to place.

Do call around and ask those agencies near you about the kind of children they have to place. I am not sure when you say really close or quite a way away what that means. Our local council offices were about half an hour away from us so all the meetings required half an hour drive. I think getting the right agency or council is more important than the distance, within reason! Quite a lot of the travelling is done by the social worker as the home study happens at your home, so they may have a 'catchment' area.

64x32x24 Mon 19-May-14 10:33:44

We had to go to the civic offices for
- a first meeting which was instead of an information evening
- prep group (4x 1day)
- to drop off some documents which were urgent but SW had forgotten at our house, or when no SW was allocated yet - maybe 3 times?
- approval panel.

Presumably we will have to go again for matching panel.

Everything else happened at our house. Two agencies we spoke to, rejected us because we were too far away - each time it would have been about 25 miles; 45 minutes by train but probably realistically at least 1h travelling time. SW do a lot of travelling! So distance WILL matter but if they think it is reasonable, it won't be too much of a problem for you, as the amount you need to travel is rather small.

You probably should think about choosing a local authority agency or a voluntary agency. Voluntary agencies have no children, as Italian said, but that also means that you the prospective adopter, are their first priority. Once you are approved, they search for children nationally, rather than with a LA where you are usually (at least initially) restricted to the local area. However, whenever a LA places a child through a VA, they have to pay them quite substantial amounts of money, so only the 'hard to place' children become available to VA adopters. If you are looking to adopt a healthy baby, you may be waiting for a very long time with a VA. (For that reason, many VAs may reject you or ask you to wait until your DS is older)

Then once you have a preference for VA or LA, you can
- check their OFSTED reports
- look at their performance on the 'adoption scorecards'
- check the 'adoption maps' to see how many children they have waiting for adoption, as compared to how many approved adopters they have
- study their webpages
- but most importantly, TALK to them. See what they say regarding distance. See how keen they are given that you have a young birth child; i.e. if they have very young children/babies who need adoption at all. See if they have capacity to assess at all; some will at times stop assessing new prospective adopters because they are short staffed. Ask how long they want you to wait from last MC. Ask if you can go to an information evening. Get a feeling for how keen they are to have you!

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