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Q&A about adoption with First4Adoption's Head of Service, Gemma Gordon-Johnson - ANSWERS BACK

(76 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 12-Apr-13 16:24:59

We're running a Q&A this week with First4Adoption, the new information service for anyone interested in finding out more about adopting a child in England.  If you have a question about your suitability to apply to be an adoptive parent, or if you want to know where to begin the adoption process, First4Adoption's Head of Service Gemma Gordon-Johnson will be on hand this week to give you the information that you need. Post your questions by lunchtime on Monday 22 April and we'll post the answers up on Monday 29 April.

There are more than 4000 children waiting to be adopted in England. Recent research shows that 1-in-7 people would consider adopting but they are held back by a lack of information and myths about who can adopt.  First4Adoption is run by the charities Coram Children's Legal Centre, Coram and Adoption UK, and funded and supported by the Department for Education (DfE).

To find out more about adopting or for information about adoption agencies in your area, call their friendly trained advisors on 0300 222 0022 or visit www.first4adoption.org.uk

ControlGeek Fri 12-Apr-13 19:41:53

I'm currently waiting for IVF treatment at the moment, so I'm possibly jumping the gun a little bit. DP and I have been talking a lot about this recently though. I've read on my local area's adoption website that prospective adoptive parents need to have recent experience of non-related (to them) children of the age range in which they are looking to adopt. The website's suggestion is that prospective adoptive parents volunteer with a nursery, school or similar to get this experience. DP and I both work full time, which makes this pretty much impossible.

I'm beginning to feel scared that lack of recent experience (I am a qualified teacher, but over 10 years outside of the school environment) will mean we are not considered suitable. DP has two adult children, but lost contact with them when they were 9 and 10, having been a resident parent up to that point.

So my question is, how much weight is given to recent experience, normally, and can it be negated in cases where both partners work?

Phineyj Mon 15-Apr-13 16:53:07

How common is it for birth parents to contact their children post-adoption via Facebook or other social media, and is there any research into the impact this has on the long term success of adoptions?

UnbearableRuth Tue 16-Apr-13 15:07:16

If a person had previously voluntarily surrendered a baby for adoption many years ago (more than 10 years) having at the time felt unable to be a parent, and had then grown up a bit and much more recently had another child and is living a pretty normal settled life - would that incident in their history be likely to make them considered unsuitable to be an adoptive parent?

What kind of age-gap between an adoptive-parent's biological-child and and adoptive-child placed would be typical in households where there were a mixture of biological children and adoptive children? Are such mixed families encouraged or discouraged? Do social services assume that the parents will hold their biological child as a favourite and therefore avoid this kind of situation?

Also, would you always be expected to have sufficient income for there to be one stay-at-home parent to be considered suitable?

LaVitaBellissima Tue 16-Apr-13 15:11:38

I saw a link to a website on here, be my parent? I think and it had photos of children waiting to be adopted. There was a family of four children who were very close and wanted to be adopted together. I just keep thinking of them sad
My question is do siblings often get adopted together, and how likely is it that four children would be adopted together?

randomtask Tue 16-Apr-13 15:49:58

How much importance is placed on the child's history before adoption? I adopted my stepson (his DM/DH's first DW) and it seemed that they were more interested in checking they had a file he could read about his past when 18 than they were checking I was suitable. Assume this is because of being his step parent but found it worrying.

We have talked about/considered adopting in the future and wonder would religion go against us? DH will be a priest. Also, would the fact I have already adopted help/hinder us? Social worker in DSS case recommended we foster as 'they need people like you' but that was before priest stuff and I fear it changes all the time.

JeanBillie Tue 16-Apr-13 17:09:42

My question is about ethnicity - I'm mixed race (black African and English) and my husband is white - what considerations would be made for us, if any? Thank you

rabbitonthemoon Tue 16-Apr-13 17:33:44

Is it always the case that ex partners have to provide a reference? I lived with an abusive partner for 6 years and the thought of having to get in touch with him, tell him I've not been able to conceive and then let him get his hands on a reference - it brings me out in a cold sweat. As a primary teacher I have many other people that could act as referees?

marjproops Tue 16-Apr-13 19:06:34

1-I pmd OP so awaiting a pm reply.

2- why does culture and colour come into it? first and moremost a child needs a family.

my sis is white and bIL black and their child is mixed. so if its 'normal', then why not for adopted children?

and why dont adopters get more support and help? adopted children will have more instabilities and traumeas that dna children.

JacqueslePeacock Tue 16-Apr-13 19:21:47

I am interested in adopting in future. I have a toddler (biological child) already and no fertility issues, but feel it would be better to adopt an already existing child in need of a home than to create another new life. Would that be thought an inappropriate reason to adopt? People look at me as if I had two heads if I say that in real life. Would I be deemed less suitable than those with fertility problems? And how old would my biological child need to be before I could start to apply? Thanks very much.

marjproops Tue 16-Apr-13 19:56:13

jac thats lovely. what a lovely thing to say and do. so many children need parents and a loving stable home life and while theres nothing wrong in bringing a child into the world out of your body, a child is truly born in the heart.

I know someone like that. she saw a child, (through a friends contact with hers) fell completely in love with him, she's single, and was allowed to adopt him. I have never seen (apart from me and DC!) a mother and child as close and loving as them. And she could conceive if she wanted to.

Dont EVER let people look at you and think you're bonkers. they could do with educating and compassion lessons.

you go for it, I hope you are successful, with a heart as big as yours there should not be any negatives about it.

(if DC didnt have disabilities and be such hard work Id do it myself, but its all i can do to cope with her).

JeanBillie Tue 16-Apr-13 20:32:23

Marjproops is your second point in response to my question?

I'm interested to hear the answer from an expert - but yes, of course ultimately what's needed is a loving family environment.

As someone, for example, with Afro hair and a white mother who had never looked after Afro hair before, there are cultural implications (some fairly trivial, like hair, and others more serious) so I'd be keen to know what approach is taken from someone who knows.

marjproops Tue 16-Apr-13 20:44:19

jean yes it is. How many white mums do you see with black/mixed kids, or black mums with white/mixed?

my nepphew looks all black, has the afro hair, the wide nose, the full lips. and sis hads no probs with that.

im saying if its okay in this multi-cultural country for 'regular' couples to have mixed race (could even be Indian/Chinese. Italian/greek etc for example) then there should never be an issue with adopters with different cultured/coloured children.

i dont know if sometimes its the 'culture' thing and not the colour...eg- a muslim child with Christian parents or whatever, but as in my case, sis is a non-believer and BIL is a devout catholic anf they compromise with their child. (if that makes sense)

and 'experts', with all their degrees, fair enough, but as you and I have agrred at the end of the day its the welfare of the child, not the politics.

marjproops Tue 16-Apr-13 20:45:54

I think this thread is about asking questions to the HQ-sorry to hijack, HQ-but maybe as well seeing peoples question and if any mns can identify/answer/share.....and some people maybe speaking from experience?

OceanBeach Tue 16-Apr-13 22:04:32

3 questions

- is the average age of a child for adoption 4, and how common is it to be able to adopt an under 18month?

-I've heard that they expect 1parent to give up work full time, but in today's economic climate that isn't possible. I can work part-time in my career, but I would want and need financially to continue working part time.

- how are often are disabled people able to adopt? I use a wheelchair but am still independent and work. Is this a complete no-no? My DH would be child's main carer, but we consider this normal and would we be penalised that it is not the mother being main carer?

WeeNoggi Wed 17-Apr-13 04:02:42

My husband & I live in Vietnam and we can adopt here legally. This would mean bringing our adopted child to the UK and getting a home study done after the adoption process. Is this fairly common or would we be perceived as attempting to bend the rules?

If that's too specific for this forum, could you give tips on preparing for a home study by social services in general? Is renting vs owning a house a big factor?

Notsoyummymummy1 Wed 17-Apr-13 06:07:32

Are most children waiting to be adopted older than toddler age? Are there many babies waiting to be adopted? Do many suffer with health problems due to their natural parents' lifestyles?

Gobbolinothewitchscat Wed 17-Apr-13 06:50:38

my nepphew looks all black, has the afro hair, the wide nose, the full lips. and sis hads no probs with that.

Gosh - that's big of your sister to have no probs with your nephew's appearance hmm. I do hope this is just a poorly worded OP.

Hayleyh34 Wed 17-Apr-13 08:38:17

Please remember that it's "birth family" and not "natural/real family". This matters greatly to some of us who have adopted. There is nothing unnatural about us and we are certainly a real familygrin

marjproops Wed 17-Apr-13 13:30:12

gob yes was poorly worded blushi mean, she never takes any notice if anyone comments that her son looks diff to her, its none of their business.

still poorly worded, cant think of right way to express (i have this prob, excuse me), but someone was asking about adopting a child of a different colour/culture to them and it shouldnt be a prob for anyone.

marjproops Wed 17-Apr-13 13:32:43

gobif you read all my posts here you'll get the bigger picure...again, im not brill at expressing things prop though, but the other posters seem to get it.

GotMyGoat Wed 17-Apr-13 14:57:19

I'm another with no fertility issues, and have an existing child, but am interested in adopting in the future.

My concern is with income - although we bought our dd to this world, I've got the feeling that to adopt you need to be able to own your own home and have a lot of money, especially if someone needs to stay at home full time. Are families who recieve any amount of housing benefit/tax credits be allowed to adopt? How much income would you need to be considered a good enough family?

It's the only thing that puts me off asking tbh, will make me feel like a bad parent to our current dd if we are told we're not rich enough.

Lilka Wed 17-Apr-13 16:15:10

Okay I know this is a thread for the expert...but GotMyGoat, I have a low income, rent my home and claim several benefits on top of that. SS have never had a single problem with renting and low income, and I have adopted 3 times. In my experience, they are not at all worried by renting or lower income, only large debts are a concern

Lilka Wed 17-Apr-13 16:21:23

Actually, I have a couple of questions about this service if that's ok:

How are 'First4Adoption' going to make themselves visible to the public, and what other reaching out to the public are you doing? I'm wondering this because although I have heard a little about this service, most people have not heard of it. So how are the general public who might have an interest in adoption to know where to go? Are you planning advertisements like LA's/VA's do? And are you doing any work with people to 'myth bust' eg. you can't adopt if you areover 40 etc.

Also, I'm a little confused about the governments intentions for 'First4Adoption'. Is this an optional information/guidance service for interested people, or is this intended to become the official mandatory first point of contact for prospective adopters, so they can't go directly to agencies?

Lotta1234 Wed 17-Apr-13 19:02:57

I'm interested in concurrent planning. Is this possible in Hertfordshire please?

GotMyGoat Wed 17-Apr-13 19:26:57

Lilka - that's great to hear - thanks for responding to me. I think my experience of meeting other people who have adopted has all been rather well off people, so I've always had that in my head.

Think it will be worth speaking to our LA in a couple of years when dd is a little older... look forward to hearing the answers from this thread.

Devora Wed 17-Apr-13 22:53:04

I'm kind of interested in how you're going to talk to enquirers about the realities of adoption. As an adoptive parent, I'm fascinated by the contradictory, polarised ways potential adopters are treated. First of all there's all the cosy adverts and outreach campaigns stressing that what is needed is normal families, emphasising how you don't have to be special, illustrated with photos of happy families romping around.

But as soon as you engage with the system all that changes and suddenly the emphasis is on how very unordinary you have to be to adopt. You get lots of horror stories about how difficult it all is, discouraged from daring to hope for anything like normal happy family life, and encouraged to be positive about signing up for life as an unpaid therapeutic carer.

Tell me, everybody, if you think I'm wrong - perhaps this was just my experience - but I think I see it reflected in some of the confusion and anxiety expressed by potential adopters who post queries here. I'm not saying any of this information is wrong - the good and the bad - but I think the current system is really bad at communicating with potential adopters about what the experience may be like. Partly because they're so insistent on keeping the emphasis on the child as priority, I expect.

Sorry, long ramble from me. But I think this new service is a real opportunity to improve on what we currently have.

Maryz Wed 17-Apr-13 23:09:43

That's spot on Devora, and the experience of everyone I know who has entered the system.

From the first contact, the job of the agency/la/sw etc seems to be to put off prospective parents. I have always assumed that was to make sure that those who got further along the system were very, very, very sure that adoption was the way to go.

I would like to ask what provision is being put in place for "after-adoption" support. I think many more adoptions would be happier and the children better off in the long run if the support offered after adoption was on a part to the support offered if a child was still in care. I don't know whether that is changing?

The amount of effort and the resources put in to selecting adoptive parents isn't matched by the effort and resources put into supporting them, ime.

Maryz Wed 17-Apr-13 23:13:51

Sorry, on a par not part hmm

Devora Wed 17-Apr-13 23:28:36

And now I'm going to agree with Maryz (mutual appreciation love-in going on). How many great potential adopters drop out because they hear all the horror stories and think they can't possibly cope? They hear that there won't be any support, that they won't be able to work outside the home, that it will be a disaster for their other children, and they (sensibly) feel they can't possibly match up. Actually, you could argue that those of us who plunge in are seriously deluded fantasists who luckily usually find out that our children are glorious and adoption can be fantastic.

It would really help people to make informed choices about adoption - and to be great adoptive parents - if it was treated more as a partnership, with guarantees that the system will be on your side, that if your child needs extra help you won't have to fight for every ounce of it.

Maryz Wed 17-Apr-13 23:33:32

Yes, sensible people drop out because they are convinced they won't cope. I think deluded is a good description of those of us who continue - and for the vast majority there is a very happy ending.

Lilka Wed 17-Apr-13 23:40:30

Here here Devora and Maryz!

There needs to be a change in the way we talk to prospective parents - we need to be able to talk in a balanced way which I don't think happens often. Raise the issues such as impact of abuse without only talking about horrible disruptions which is frightening. I personally always try and emphasise how you can have a positive family life living with 'extra issues'. My DS is a joy to parent and he has certain issues other children do not. This is an extra layer/challenge...it is not 'negative' however!

I also find social workers often talk in terms of ideals and not reality, whether that's in terms of work, children's names, post adoption support or anything. Just because in an ideal world (or in the social worker's ideal world, which might be a different thing!) something would work a certain way, does not mean we should present this as the 'only way'. It isn't, and we need to talk in terms of what really happens.

More contact between prospective adopters and adopters during the process might help with this. I have spoken at a prep course, and people had plenty of private questions they did not want to ask the SW but needed an answer. Contact between PAP's and AP's is important.

Also I wholeheartedly agree about post adoption support which is something I bang on about a lot!! More support = better outcomes, simple as that

Moomoomie Thu 18-Apr-13 11:13:18

I totally agree with the need for more post adoption support, especially while the children are still young. It's often too late by the time the children are teenagers.

Hayleyh34 Thu 18-Apr-13 17:52:42

I agree with Devora and Maryz too. I also feel that there needs to be masses more post adoption support. We applied to legally adopt our DD as soon as it was allowed. Our SW told us that perhaps we should wait as once we legally adopted we would have NO access to post adoption support. They talk about the importance of building families but then discourage you because they can't support youconfused. We ignored them anyway grin( for anyone interested this is Surrey Social Services I am naming and shaming)

marjproops Thu 18-Apr-13 18:25:09

Hayleyh my friend got brilliant support from Surrey adoption services.

agree with social services though, I ve had dealings with them regarding stuff with my DC.

But my friend deosnt live in surrey any more and where she is now she says the adoption service And soc services is a word that rhymes with mitt! post ad I think she was talking about.

isnt it like, if a partner leaves theyre supposed to pay maintenance and stuff? what about ad children? shouldnt a service be helping them financilally, just cos theyve been 'taken off their hands' -(not my words).

Hayleyh34 Thu 18-Apr-13 20:19:11

Marj, Surrey have been awful for us. My brother adopted at roughly the same time with a London agency and has had/still has amazing support. The problem is that you don't know what type of support you'll need as your child gets older. For us, that has been non-existent with Surrey (but we were warned)

marjproops Thu 18-Apr-13 21:20:48

hayleymaybe Gemma Gordon can answer that one for you, Id like some answers myself about a few things. hope so.

hate it when you ask questions and then people pussyfoot round the answers (Prime minister and dep Im looking at you 2 !!!)

and well done adopting, and to your brother too. adopters need more encouragment.

this is a subject very close to me, too personal to say why. so encouragment and support from me to all adopters. thanks

Hayleyh34 Thu 18-Apr-13 21:42:04

Thanks Marj and I hope you get the answers you're looking for. We're an unusual case, I adopted one child and my brother 3. My parents went from having no grandchildren to 4 within a space of weeks! Seeing my brother go through the same process made me very aware of what Surrey were lacking

Angelblue01 Sat 20-Apr-13 09:29:33

Finding the discussion really interesting as a single adopter and find that I agree in part with experiences of others who have been through the process in terms of some of the hard hitting info shared in the process although I was very fortunate with my experience - had excellent SW through the process and prompt assistance PA when this was needed recently.

In terms of some of the issues raised -

1. Recent experience of children for me was addressed by helping out at local scout group as I work full time and this was done 1 evening a week.

2. Working full time was not a significant obstacle - SW was concerned about being available during the initial placement period for as long was needed so they did check what arrangements were going to be in place for time off, financial support during this period and what would be in place when I returned to work - obviously more important as a single adopter with no partner support. For clarity I am not wealthy and also need to work full time.

3. Sibling adoptions are considered and I know of groups of 3 & 4 being placed for adoption by my authority when it was the right thing for the children and a suitable family was found. I also know of separate placements for siblings and direct contact between them arranged through the year which work equally well.

4. Finance is considered but as previously stated the focus was on if you had outstanding debts and on issues around not being able to work for a period.

I agree there should be more contact between adopters and those going through the process to share experiences and answer questions and I am happy to answer questions if I can for anyone considering/going through the process

Snowrose1311 Sat 20-Apr-13 23:06:57

I am a lone parent with 2 biological DS in primary school. I'd love to adopt in a year or 2, but I'm on my own with little family support. Can you tell me how much support (e.g. from friends, school / nursery, childcare) a single adopter would need to have in order to be approved? I feel confident about my ability to manage three children on my own, even considering that an adopted child may have emotional and/or behavioural problems, but I've heard that potential single adopters must demonstrate that they have a support network in order to be approved.

poynton Sun 21-Apr-13 10:45:09

I used to be a foster carer for the highland council for 2 years and absolutely loved it.
But I had to report a female social worker for phyically, verbally and sexually abusing a 10 year old boy on 3 seperate occasions that I and another child wittnessed.
As you no doubt would quess the fact I reported it did not go down well with social services and they removed the child from me and ignored my allegation.
I came across another boy that told me he had been abused by the same social worker and once again I reported what he told me to social services. I was told by the head of fostering and adoption to drop the allegation or else, I asked what she meant by that and she said that it would effect me financially as would be very difficult to get placements for me as no social worker would trust me.
I told her not to threaten me and I did not get into fostering for money as I worked full time.
Within 3 weeks I had my name removed from the approved foster carers list they said that I was not seen as a team player so could not be trusted.
I was also told verbally that I would be blacklisted from working with children again. The manager told me this with a great big smile on her face.

I have been blacklisted as a foster agency approached me and told me to ignore it and they would investigate. The agency social worker himself had been a social worker in Inverness and had left due to the amount of abuse and corruption being ignored by his managment and knew and was very sympathetic knowing what I had gone through and said "you will never beat the system"
They forwarded the letter they received from Inverness social services about me and it barely said anything bad about me, but even so the agency told me they wouldnt be able to take me, the social worker from the agency told me that it wasnt what it said in the letter but what the head of fostering at Inverness had said behind my back about me to his boss who was friends with that manager.

I would love to adopt but would the fact that I have been blacklisted by my local social services would it effect my application due to the fact that no doubt the local social services would be involved.

I still have a lot of paper work and communications I had when fostering proving I was been told to do things that not only went against social services own rules but also morally wrong.
Even the police (I spent 3 years trying to get the abusive SW exposed) could not believe what they where seeing and copied everything.
The police investigation was abrutly stopped with no real reason apart from being told the child involved refused to talk about it, and they never spoke to the other wittness of one attack.
I personally think someone higher up in the police force stopped the investigation as the officers were keen and positive to start with and I thought I was going to be finally getting somewhere, but the officers seemed very downhearted when they told me they would not be carrying on with the investigation and did not to want to talk about it.

Anyway I could go on all day about what happened but I have asked my question about the effect all this would have on future adoption as fostering for me is now totally out of the question. all this happened in 2008.

ukbristol Sun 21-Apr-13 12:51:42

Hi there,
We went to an adoption talk 2 years ago - we're normal loving people looking to provide a loving home for a child but didn't know much about it all.
As white middle class couple we were virtually told 'we have lots of people like you, little chance of adopting' and the case studies of children were all very extreme (babies having to go into drug withdrawal after birth as birth mother on heroin and children burned by fire by mentally ill birth parents).
I understand that the adoption agencies don't want to paint an overly rosy picture but we really got the impression that a) our approach wasn't really welcome b) you'd have to be a saint to be able to cope with extreme physical and emotional challenges.
I'm interested to understand if this is the reality or if we would be welcomed as adopted parents?
I'm 44 and my husband is 48 - we are young minded and physically for our age, married for 10 years, loving without children of our own and financially solvent.
I understand the concept of therapeutic parenting and we have thoughtful personalities so could probably help encourage a cautious child to have more confidence.
My questions are:
Would we be welcomed as adopted parents?
We were put off by the adoption talk in central Bristol - does this mean we're not suited to be adoptive parents?
How could we find out more thoughtfully about the spectrum of issues of the children that need adopting to understand what type of children we could best love/ support?
Thanks
UkBristol

ukbristol Sun 21-Apr-13 15:52:42

Hi again,
I remember the other issue we faced was that we live reasonably centrally in Bristol and the adoption agency were concerned that the adopted child as he/ she grows older may come into contact with relatives from birth family - siblings, cousins etc. - who also lived in Bristol and this may cause the child distress. Apparently they have had cases where cousins have looked out for the child who was adopted and then tried to make contact against the child's wishes. As such, the agency wanted adoptive parents to live close enough for social workers to visit but a reasonable distance away from the birth family and they felt that we lived too close to potential adoptees.
It seems a difficult balance - too close isn't good and too far away isn't good either as too far for social workers to visit. We were felt confused by all this and unsure what we should do.

Again, any advice for us with regards where we live would also be appreciated. We live in a lovely child friendly neighbourhood in Bristol and yet this also seems to count against us.

Thanks
UkBristol

Devora Sun 21-Apr-13 16:42:02

ukbristol, I'll just comment that I don't think being born drug dependent is 'extreme' in adoption terms - it's depressingly common. There are not many children up for adoption, IME, who do not have some combination of these factors in their immediate background or heritage: drug abuse, alcohol abuse, mental illness, learning disabilities, physical abuse, sexual abuse.

poynton Sun 21-Apr-13 17:28:35

ukbristol. When I did the fostering courses I was told all sort of horror stories, you know the sort.
But in the 2 years I had 9 children, yes they did have problems but within hours of being shown respect and trust they changed completely including, schooling, out of school activities and of course behaviour.
It would have helped if I had been given some background about the children but our SS as posted above were and are very lacking.
So I wouldn't bother too much about the horror stories they are only children after all.
But I was dealing with preteen and not babies.

ThinkingofAdoption Sun 21-Apr-13 20:17:44

First of all, thank you to Mumsnet and First4Adoption for arranging this Q&A. It's really helpful as my DH and I have been to an information session and are thinking of applying to adopt. I have two questions.

1) My first question is a personal one about ethnic matching. My DH is white and I look white but am mixed race (white/and a group of which there are not that many in the UK). My family is mixed race so if you look at my parents and siblings, between us all we are white/mixed race/black. How would ethnic matching work in our case?

I am worried that if a specific match was sought for my ethnicity, we would have a very long wait. Would we be considered for a white child even though I am mixed race? Or would we be considered for a black child, even though neither of us is black, because close relatives (who we see a lot of) are?

From our own perspective, we don't mind about the child's ethnicity, since we are used to mixed families anyway. I guess my concern is that a close ethnic matching policy would mean we needn't bother applying.

2) Do you think policies of matching ethnicity mean that children of some races stay in foster care for longer (perhaps even not being adopted)? If so, what can or is being done to increase the adoption chances for those children?

ThinkingofAdoption Sun 21-Apr-13 20:23:29

UKBristol, great questions. My understanding of prenatal exposure is that it's a spectrum - good parenting strategies can mitigate the effects of some levels of prenatal exposure to some drugs, but on the other hand foetal alcohol syndrome causes permanent brain damage. Sadly these issues are very common. So it is definitely worth researching and I will be interested to see the answer you get as to where to begin this research!

chrissyjay Mon 22-Apr-13 12:47:50

Can self-employed people receive adoption pay?

I'm delighted that this Q&A has been set up. Thanks to Mumsnet and First4Adoption for organising this. I am an adopter of a, now 5 year old girl, and am just about to adopt her baby brother (currently 6 months old). We have now been through the approval process twice and I would agree with many of the points raised thus far.

The preparation and home study process can feel extremely negative. I totally understand that Social Workers need to highlight that the majority of children needing homes come from backgrounds of serious neglect and abuse either within the home or in-utero. Adopters need to know that their child may experience a lot of different issues and difficulties throughout their life and signing up as an adopter will most likely mean you have to parent difficulties that a birth parent may not experience and you will certainly have to deal with issues that birth parents don't i.e. contact and life story work and the emotions that that brings up, both in your child and in yourself. I do know of several people who have pulled out of the process due to the levels of negativity. There needs to be a balance between being realistic and enabling adoptive parents to manage any difficulties that may arise. This ultimately comes down to post-adoption support.

Post Adoption Support is lacking in the majority of areas and cuts to public funding are impacting even more on this issue at the current time. Many adopted children are waiting months and months for access to support such as CAMHS and Theraplay etc and their difficulties can then increase putting their home placements at risk. I feel that this is an area that needs to be addressed before the government starts pushing to approve more adopters otherwise this is a disaster waiting to happen. I support changes that now enable adopted children to maintain their LAC status within education, thus enabling adoptive parents to choose the school that best suits their child's needs but more needs to be done within schools as well. Many adopted children are suffering due to lack of planning and IEP's within school so their educational needs aren't being met. Adoptive parents can then be viewed as overly fussy or annoying by the school because many SENCO's don't seem to understand the impact that education may have on an adopted child e.g. a change of teacher or school day at short notice can be traumatic for a child with attachment difficulties.

I think my question is what will the government be doing to support adoptive parents and their children more effectively post-adoption and within school and will First4Adoption have any role to play in this?

I will just add that we couldn't be happier as adoptive parents and I wouldn't change anything for the world. We were blessed with wonderful Social Workers through both adoptions (although experienced lots of hiccups with difficultie with paperwork being "misplaced" etc). We have a wonderful daughter and we are all excited to be welcoming her brother into our family. I would encourage people to come forward as adopters and do read the many adoption blogs and stories out there on the web. There are many people writing very positively and proactively to share their experiences so that prospective adopters can see into the lives of adopters. You can ask us lots of questions and we'll give your our own experiences. I found that invaluable as a first time adopter. I was lucky to meet lots of adopted children who were all regular children living with some wonderful people. Don't be put off by the negative stuff out there. It's important to keep a balance of all the viewpoints in your head.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Apr-13 17:03:59

Hi there, we're still waiting for the answers back from First4Adoption but have been assured that they will be with us by the morning, so we'll post them straight up. Apologies for the delay.

LaraMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 30-Apr-13 12:45:31

We now have your answers back from Gemma, and we will be posting them up shortly.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:32:21

ControlGeek

I'm currently waiting for IVF treatment at the moment, so I'm possibly jumping the gun a little bit. DP and I have been talking a lot about this recently though. I've read on my local area's adoption website that prospective adoptive parents need to have recent experience of non-related (to them) children of the age range in which they are looking to adopt. The website's suggestion is that prospective adoptive parents volunteer with a nursery, school or similar to get this experience. DP and I both work full time, which makes this pretty much impossible.

I'm beginning to feel scared that lack of recent experience (I am a qualified teacher, but over 10 years outside of the school environment) will mean we are not considered suitable. DP has two adult children, but lost contact with them when they were 9 and 10, having been a resident parent up to that point.

So my question is, how much weight is given to recent experience, normally, and can it be negated in cases where both partners work?

Having recently spent regular time with children can be very helpful before becoming an adoptive parent. You could get current experience of being around children by regularly spending time with the children of your friends or family, which could be a good opportunity to observe parenting as well. If you have time, you could also volunteer with children’s group in the evening, such as Brownies, Scouts, Rainbow or Woodcraft Folk groups

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:33:28

Phineyj

How common is it for birth parents to contact their children post-adoption via Facebook or other social media, and is there any research into the impact this has on the long term success of adoptions?

Adoption agencies work with adopters to help them prepare themselves and their children for the potential impact of contact with birth families. As you say, this is particularly important given the rise of social media and the internet. Other organisations that offer support to adopters, such as Adoption UK, can also be a good source of advice. These organisations might be a good place to find research about how common this is and about any impact. Finally, a book written last year ‘Bubble Wrapped Children: How social networking is transforming the face of 21st century adoption’ by Helen Oakwater covers this area.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:39:58

UnbearableRuth

If a person had previously voluntarily surrendered a baby for adoption many years ago (more than 10 years) having at the time felt unable to be a parent, and had then grown up a bit and much more recently had another child and is living a pretty normal settled life - would that incident in their history be likely to make them considered unsuitable to be an adoptive parent?

What kind of age-gap between an adoptive-parent's biological-child and and adoptive-child placed would be typical in households where there were a mixture of biological children and adoptive children? Are such mixed families encouraged or discouraged? Do social services assume that the parents will hold their biological child as a favourite and therefore avoid this kind of situation?

Also, would you always be expected to have sufficient income for there to be one stay-at-home parent to be considered suitable?

Voluntarily parting with a child for adoption, would not automatically preclude you from adopting a child at a later time. An adoption agency would want to understand the circumstances surrounding the earlier decision and consider your current situation when assessing your suitability to adopt

There are many families who have both biological children and adopted children. A child placed for adoption may have had unsettling early experiences and will need a family where their needs can be prioritised. Social workers would consider the needs of all the children in the family and experience shows that giving each child more space is particularly helpful in adoptive families. Therefore a wider age gap between each of the children may be a helpful plan.

When a child is first placed in an adoptive family it is expected that there will be one parent at home for between 6 to 12 months to enable a child to settle and make good attachments. Therefore, financial planning is helpful to manage this comfortably. There is also statutory adoption pay to support the partner who is taking adoption leave from work. See employers adoption pay leave/ entitlement for more information or visit our website First4Adoption

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:42:27

LaVitaBellissima

I saw a link to a website on here, be my parent? I think and it had photos of children waiting to be adopted. There was a family of four children who were very close and wanted to be adopted together. I just keep thinking of them sad
My question is do siblings often get adopted together, and how likely is it that four children would be adopted together?

It is hoped that siblings who have always lived together and have a good relationship can be placed in an adoptive family together. Larger sibling groups may be placed in separate families, but if possible it is hoped that the different families will offer ongoing contact to enable the siblings to remain in touch. Finding a family to adopt 4 children together is a challenge, but if the social workers think this is in the children’s best interests then they will make every effort to achieve this. There is often financial support available to enable adopters to consider a large sibling group.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:44:32

randomtask

How much importance is placed on the child's history before adoption? I adopted my stepson (his DM/DH's first DW) and it seemed that they were more interested in checking they had a file he could read about his past when 18 than they were checking I was suitable. Assume this is because of being his step parent but found it worrying.

We have talked about/considered adopting in the future and wonder would religion go against us? DH will be a priest. Also, would the fact I have already adopted help/hinder us? Social worker in DSS case recommended we foster as 'they need people like you' but that was before priest stuff and I fear it changes all the time.

Prospective adopters go through an extensive assessment process to determine whether they are suitable to adopt a child and to find the best match with a child/children needing adoption. If you have had experience of parenting and have helped a child in the family to understand issues of adoption then you have much to bring to parenting a child needing an adoptive family.

The issue of religion should not be a barrier and many families where one or both parents are priests have adopted children.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:46:13

JeanBillie

My question is about ethnicity - I'm mixed race (black African and English) and my husband is white - what considerations would be made for us, if any? Thank you

There are children from a range of ethnic backgrounds, including mixed-ethnic backgrounds, who need adoptive families. Adoption agencies are keen to recruit families who can reflect this and so they would welcome interest from families with backgrounds like yours.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:48:12

rabbitonthemoon

Is it always the case that ex partners have to provide a reference? I lived with an abusive partner for 6 years and the thought of having to get in touch with him, tell him I've not been able to conceive and then let him get his hands on a reference - it brings me out in a cold sweat. As a primary teacher I have many other people that could act as referees?

There is some discretion about interviewing ex-partners, particularly where there has been a history of abuse. If you have not parented children together within that relationship it should not be an issue. Previous partners who have jointly parented children can only state if they have concerns about a future child’s well-being and why. They do not have a right to veto the application.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:49:14

marjproops

1-I pmd OP so awaiting a pm reply.

2- why does culture and colour come into it? first and moremost a child needs a family.

my sis is white and bIL black and their child is mixed. so if its 'normal', then why not for adopted children?

and why dont adopters get more support and help? adopted children will have more instabilities and traumeas that dna children.

The aim for everyone in the adoption system is to find loving families for each child in need of a happy future, even if there is not a perfect ethnic match. Ethnicity is relevant however and you must have an understanding of the challenges that raising a child of a different ethnicity can provide. Your agency will help prepare you for this if it applies to you.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 13:51:44

JacqueslePeacock

I am interested in adopting in future. I have a toddler (biological child) already and no fertility issues, but feel it would be better to adopt an already existing child in need of a home than to create another new life. Would that be thought an inappropriate reason to adopt? People look at me as if I had two heads if I say that in real life. Would I be deemed less suitable than those with fertility problems? And how old would my biological child need to be before I could start to apply? Thanks very much.

There are many families who have both biological children and adopted children. A child placed for adoption may have had unsettling early experiences and will need a family where their needs can be prioritised. Social workers would consider the needs of all the children in the family and experience shows that giving each child more space is particularly helpful in adoptive families. Therefore a wider age gap between each of the children may be a helpful plan.

If there is a toddler in the family it may be a good idea to attend the information meetings of adoption agencies to learn more about what is involved in adopting, the needs of the children waiting to be adopted, and to think about the timing of an adoption application.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:01:23

OceanBeach

3 questions

- is the average age of a child for adoption 4, and how common is it to be able to adopt an under 18month?

-I've heard that they expect 1parent to give up work full time, but in today's economic climate that isn't possible. I can work part-time in my career, but I would want and need financially to continue working part time.

- how are often are disabled people able to adopt? I use a wheelchair but am still independent and work. Is this a complete no-no? My DH would be child's main carer, but we consider this normal and would we be penalised that it is not the mother being main carer?

There are currently younger children among the 4,000-plus children waiting for adoptive families in England and the Government is keen to encourage people interested in adopting to come forward. There are some children aged under-2 years old and great efforts are being made to prevent delay in placing them with adoptive families.

When a young child is placed in an adoptive family it is expected that one parent will be at home for between 6 and 12 months to enable a child to settle and make good attachments. There is also statutory adoption pay to support the partner who is taking adoption leave from work or visit our website First4Adoption.

If you need to return to work after that, it is important to consider different types of childcare to find the best one for a child who has may well have already experienced considerable disruption before joining their adoptive family.

Disabled people can adopt and are welcomed when applying. Each family will work out which parent would be best suited to be the parent at home caring for the child. This is sometimes the male partner, which is acceptable and not unusual.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:06:21

WeeNoggi

My husband & I live in Vietnam and we can adopt here legally. This would mean bringing our adopted child to the UK and getting a home study done after the adoption process. Is this fairly common or would we be perceived as attempting to bend the rules?

If that's too specific for this forum, could you give tips on preparing for a home study by social services in general? Is renting vs owning a house a big factor?

If an overseas country is a member of the Hague Convention then an adoption order granted in that country would be recognised by the UK. Vietnam is a member of the Hague Convention and therefore the adoption order granted in Vietnam would be recognised in the UK and it would not be necessary to apply for an adoption order once the adoptive family return to the UK.

If one of the adopters is a British national then the child would become a British national on the granting of an adoption order. If an overseas country is not a member of the Hague Convention then it would be necessary to apply for an adoption order once the family have returned to the UK. See intercountry adoption.

A Home Study forms the main part of any assessment to be an adoptive parent in England. It is a series of visits made by a social worker from your adoption agency to your home. During this time the social worker gets to know you and your family and spends time helping you think about what strengths you could bring to adoptive parenting. Whether you are a homeowner or you are living in rented accommodation, you can still apply and be approved as adopters.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:09:05

Notsoyummymummy1

Are most children waiting to be adopted older than toddler age? Are there many babies waiting to be adopted? Do many suffer with health problems due to their natural parents' lifestyles?

The majority of children waiting for adoption are under 6 years old with many younger children between 1 to 3 years of age. There are very few tiny babies placed for adoption. All adopted children will have suffered some loss and separation, even when adopted shortly after birth. Some may have specific medical problems or a learning disability, and some children may have experienced neglect or abuse.

During the assessment and matching process, social workers will help adopters to consider their parenting capabilities and adopters will be given as much information as possible about the child and their needs so they can make an informed decision about making them a part of their family. All these children will have had unsettled lives and need parents who can offer them love and reliable care to help them rebuild their trust in adults.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:20:13

GotMyGoat

I'm another with no fertility issues, and have an existing child, but am interested in adopting in the future.

My concern is with income - although we bought our dd to this world, I've got the feeling that to adopt you need to be able to own your own home and have a lot of money, especially if someone needs to stay at home full time. Are families who recieve any amount of housing benefit/tax credits be allowed to adopt? How much income would you need to be considered a good enough family?

It's the only thing that puts me off asking tbh, will make me feel like a bad parent to our current dd if we are told we're not rich enough.

The financial circumstances and employment status of prospective adopters will always be considered as part of an adoption assessment, but low income, being unemployed or employed do not automatically rule you out. You can be an adoptive parent while on benefits. Home owners or those in rented accommodation can adopt, as well as those on housing benefit and tax credits.

When a young child is placed in an adoptive family it is expected that one parent will be at home for between 6 and 12 months to enable a child to settle and make good attachments. There is statutory adoption pay to support the partner who is taking adoption leave from work.
Additional financial support may be available, but this would depend on the child’s needs and particular circumstances. This would need careful discussion with the adoption agency.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:23:04

Lotta1234

I'm interested in concurrent planning. Is this possible in Hertfordshire please?

Concurrent Planning enables prospective adopters to be approved as foster carers so that a baby, who is unable to live with his/her birth family, can be placed with them a fostering basis. During this time, while the Family Courts are assessing the best plans for the baby’s future and deciding whether he/she will need to be adopted, the baby will need to maintain regular contact with its birth parents through contact meetings, and the foster carers will need to support the birth family’s efforts to regain the care of their child. If the Court decides that the baby can be safely returned home to the birth family then the foster carers would help the baby settle back into their birth family.

If, however, the Court decides that it is not safe to return a baby to their birth family and the baby needs the security of an adoptive family, then the baby can be adopted by the foster carers with whom they are already living. This will prevent the baby from having to suffer the upset and loss of moving from a foster home where they have settled to a different adoptive family.

This process has been pioneered by the children’s charity Coram which is now working with a variety of adoption agencies to ensure that Concurrent Planning is more widely available across the country. For the most up-to-date information, it’s best to enquire with your local adoption agencies whether Concurrent Planning programmes are being developed in your area. To find the contact details of Local Authority and Voluntary Adoption Agencies in your area, you can call us on 0300 222 0022 or visit our website First4Adoption.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:30:34

Devora

I'm kind of interested in how you're going to talk to enquirers about the realities of adoption. As an adoptive parent, I'm fascinated by the contradictory, polarised ways potential adopters are treated. First of all there's all the cosy adverts and outreach campaigns stressing that what is needed is normal families, emphasising how you don't have to be special, illustrated with photos of happy families romping around.

But as soon as you engage with the system all that changes and suddenly the emphasis is on how very unordinary you have to be to adopt. You get lots of horror stories about how difficult it all is, discouraged from daring to hope for anything like normal happy family life, and encouraged to be positive about signing up for life as an unpaid therapeutic carer.

Tell me, everybody, if you think I'm wrong - perhaps this was just my experience - but I think I see it reflected in some of the confusion and anxiety expressed by potential adopters who post queries here. I'm not saying any of this information is wrong - the good and the bad - but I think the current system is really bad at communicating with potential adopters about what the experience may be like. Partly because they're so insistent on keeping the emphasis on the child as priority, I expect.

Sorry, long ramble from me. But I think this new service is a real opportunity to improve on what we currently have.

It is hoped that First4Adoption can convey something of the joys of adoptive parenting as well as some of the challenges. Do look at our website First4Adoption to see how we are trying to do this. We also have adopters that volunteer on our information line 0300 222 0022 and this enables us to provide real insight to prospective adopters. It is a balance and all those interested in adopting are encouraged to attend the information meetings of several agencies to learn more about the children needing adoptive homes. In this way prospective adopters can find an agency which will be most suitable for them and they will be confident if they decide to make an application.

Whilst the needs of the child remain paramount, it is important that the hopes and expectations of prospective adoptive parents are respected and understood. First4Adoption is a service for prospective adopters and has been created to not only encourage prospective adopters but to also support them with their adoption journey. The determination of adopters to make a lifelong difference to the lives of children, who may have had difficult early experiences, is truly impressive.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:50:48

Maryz

That's spot on Devora, and the experience of everyone I know who has entered the system.

From the first contact, the job of the agency/la/sw etc seems to be to put off prospective parents. I have always assumed that was to make sure that those who got further along the system were very, very, very sure that adoption was the way to go.

I would like to ask what provision is being put in place for "after-adoption" support. I think many more adoptions would be happier and the children better off in the long run if the support offered after adoption was on a part to the support offered if a child was still in care. I don't know whether that is changing?

The amount of effort and the resources put in to selecting adoptive parents isn't matched by the effort and resources put into supporting them, ime.

Post adoption support is an important consideration when a child joins an adoptive family. This is discussed at the time that the match is identified when an adoption support plan is drawn up. Currently each adoptive family is entitled to an assessment if there are subsequent problems,nto identify what services may be helpful. At present there is not a duty on Local Authorities to provide additional support and families sometimes struggle to find the most appropriate support. However, a health service such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health teams, CAMHS, are increasingly aware of the additional needs of those dealing with issues arising from adoption.

There are also specialist agencies that provide post adoption support, such as After Adoption and Adoption UK. Adoption UK is an organisation set up by adopters for adopters and offers a range of supportive services.

There are other organisations listed on the First4Adoption website where post adoption support is available. The government is currently looking into ways to enable adoptive families to access support using an Adoption Passport and there should be further information about this in the coming weeks. Do check our website for updates about this and follow us on Twitter Twitter @First4Adoption.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:54:58

Snowrose1311

I am a lone parent with 2 biological DS in primary school. I'd love to adopt in a year or 2, but I'm on my own with little family support. Can you tell me how much support (e.g. from friends, school / nursery, childcare) a single adopter would need to have in order to be approved? I feel confident about my ability to manage three children on my own, even considering that an adopted child may have emotional and/or behavioural problems, but I've heard that potential single adopters must demonstrate that they have a support network in order to be approved.

Local Authorities and Voluntary Adoption Agencies have been placing children with single adopters successfully for a number of years. It is not necessary to have a partner to adopt a child. As a parent of two children you have considerable parenting experience.

As a single parent, support networks are particularly important and being able to call on friends and family would be a consideration during an adoption assessment. There are times in all families when support can be important, although how this is arranged is different in each family.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 14:57:31

poynton

I used to be a foster carer for the highland council for 2 years and absolutely loved it.
But I had to report a female social worker for phyically, verbally and sexually abusing a 10 year old boy on 3 seperate occasions that I and another child wittnessed.
As you no doubt would quess the fact I reported it did not go down well with social services and they removed the child from me and ignored my allegation.
I came across another boy that told me he had been abused by the same social worker and once again I reported what he told me to social services. I was told by the head of fostering and adoption to drop the allegation or else, I asked what she meant by that and she said that it would effect me financially as would be very difficult to get placements for me as no social worker would trust me.
I told her not to threaten me and I did not get into fostering for money as I worked full time.
Within 3 weeks I had my name removed from the approved foster carers list they said that I was not seen as a team player so could not be trusted.
I was also told verbally that I would be blacklisted from working with children again. The manager told me this with a great big smile on her face.

I have been blacklisted as a foster agency approached me and told me to ignore it and they would investigate. The agency social worker himself had been a social worker in Inverness and had left due to the amount of abuse and corruption being ignored by his managment and knew and was very sympathetic knowing what I had gone through and said "you will never beat the system"
They forwarded the letter they received from Inverness social services about me and it barely said anything bad about me, but even so the agency told me they wouldnt be able to take me, the social worker from the agency told me that it wasnt what it said in the letter but what the head of fostering at Inverness had said behind my back about me to his boss who was friends with that manager.

I would love to adopt but would the fact that I have been blacklisted by my local social services would it effect my application due to the fact that no doubt the local social services would be involved.

I still have a lot of paper work and communications I had when fostering proving I was been told to do things that not only went against social services own rules but also morally wrong.
Even the police (I spent 3 years trying to get the abusive SW exposed) could not believe what they where seeing and copied everything.
The police investigation was abrutly stopped with no real reason apart from being told the child involved refused to talk about it, and they never spoke to the other wittness of one attack.
I personally think someone higher up in the police force stopped the investigation as the officers were keen and positive to start with and I thought I was going to be finally getting somewhere, but the officers seemed very downhearted when they told me they would not be carrying on with the investigation and did not to want to talk about it.

Anyway I could go on all day about what happened but I have asked my question about the effect all this would have on future adoption as fostering for me is now totally out of the question. all this happened in 2008.

When someone applies to an agency to adopt a child, there are checks made with the agencies where the applicant has previously fostered or adopted. It would be sensible therefore, to have a meeting with the new agency and be open about any difficulties that have previously experienced with another agency. If there is correspondence which will outline the situation, it would be helpful to share this in the first instance.

With consent, the first agency will be contacted for information about areas of differences. The new agency will then discuss any concerns with the prospective adopter, before making a decision about accepting an application. It is not unusual for prospective adopters to decide to withdraw from one agency when there has been a difference of opinion. It is then possible to approach another agency, being open and honest about their situation, to check out whether there can be a different view.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 15:08:01

ukbristol

Hi again,
I remember the other issue we faced was that we live reasonably centrally in Bristol and the adoption agency were concerned that the adopted child as he/ she grows older may come into contact with relatives from birth family - siblings, cousins etc. - who also lived in Bristol and this may cause the child distress. Apparently they have had cases where cousins have looked out for the child who was adopted and then tried to make contact against the child's wishes. As such, the agency wanted adoptive parents to live close enough for social workers to visit but a reasonable distance away from the birth family and they felt that we lived too close to potential adoptees.
It seems a difficult balance - too close isn't good and too far away isn't good either as too far for social workers to visit. We were felt confused by all this and unsure what we should do.

Again, any advice for us with regards where we live would also be appreciated. We live in a lovely child friendly neighbourhood in Bristol and yet this also seems to count against us.

Thanks
UkBristol

Even if you are just at the earliest stages of exploring the idea of adoption it is a good idea to contact a couple of adoption agencies (or even three or four). Adoption agencies hold information meetings explaining adoption in detail and they also give you opportunities to meet with adoptive parents. They also have different needs and priorities when recruiting prospective adopters in their local area.

These meetings are a great opportunity to find out about parenting, about adoption and about the children who need adoptive families. Go along to a few meetings. Ask questions, both of yourselves and of the agencies. Most prospective adopters find this very helpful in helping them make their decisions. In the early stages it is possible to contact as many agencies as you like and can include both Local Authorities and Voluntary Adoption Agencies. Each can supply prospective adopters with information and invite them to meetings. Many will also invite prospective adopters to informal conversations with social workers to understand the hopes and desires as well as the strengths they would bring to being an adoptive parent.

First 4 Adoption would encourage prospective adopters to contact several agencies at this early stage because it is very important to feel comfortable when working with an agency. The process much will be much easier if there is a good rapport between the prospective adopter and the adoption agency. Different agencies will each have their own needs and priorities. When there has been a discouraging response from an agency it doesn’t mean you can’t adopt through them or through another agency You could also give our information line a call if you have any questions or concerns on 0300 222 0022. By the way, it’s great to have a question from someone in their 40s because we know there are a lot of myths and misconceptions around adoption out there. First of all, there is no upper age limit to adopting a child. Agencies will expect you to have the health and vitality to see your children through to an age of independence, and consideration will be given to your age comparative to the age of the child you want to adopt (younger children are more likely to be placed with younger parents). The Who Can Adopt section of our website First4Adoption aims to bust adoption myths.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 15:09:55

ThinkingofAdoption

First of all, thank you to Mumsnet and First4Adoption for arranging this Q&A. It's really helpful as my DH and I have been to an information session and are thinking of applying to adopt. I have two questions.

1) My first question is a personal one about ethnic matching. My DH is white and I look white but am mixed race (white/and a group of which there are not that many in the UK). My family is mixed race so if you look at my parents and siblings, between us all we are white/mixed race/black. How would ethnic matching work in our case?

I am worried that if a specific match was sought for my ethnicity, we would have a very long wait. Would we be considered for a white child even though I am mixed race? Or would we be considered for a black child, even though neither of us is black, because close relatives (who we see a lot of) are?

From our own perspective, we don't mind about the child's ethnicity, since we are used to mixed families anyway. I guess my concern is that a close ethnic matching policy would mean we needn't bother applying.

2) Do you think policies of matching ethnicity mean that children of some races stay in foster care for longer (perhaps even not being adopted)? If so, what can or is being done to increase the adoption chances for those children?

Children who need adoptive families come from a range of ethnic backgrounds, including mixed–ethnic backgrounds. Therefore, adoption agencies are keen to recruit prospective adoptive parents who can reflect the diversity of children’s ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The wider family also makes an important contribution to family life, as well as friends and the diversity of a family’s network can be helpful to a child of mixed heritage.

A child’s ethnic background is one of a number of considerations social workers will have when trying to match a child to an adoptive family. The aim for everyone in the adoption system is to find loving families for each child in need of a happy future, even if there is not a perfect ethnic match. Ethnicity is relevant and how a family would support a child to develop with confidence would be discussed as part of an adoption assessment.

GemmaGordon-Johnson Tue 30-Apr-13 15:11:35

chrissyjay

Can self-employed people receive adoption pay?

A self-employed person is not entitled to Statutory Adoption Pay, so self-employed people need to plan ahead and prepare financially. Once adopters have been matched with a child there is a period of getting to know the child when it is not easy to work and a family may need to depend on savings. This means that planning ahead for the time when a child first joins the family is important for anyone who is self-employed and therefore unable to take Statutory Adoption Leave or Statutory Adoption Pay.

Kewcumber Tue 30-Apr-13 21:13:17

Chrissyjay. No reason why you can't set up a imited company and employ yourself. As an employee you would then qualify for adoption leave.

There are pros and cons of being a limited company and you should talk to an accountant about whether it would be worthwhile for you and obviously it isn't a decision which should be made just to get adoption pay.

adoptionmum Wed 01-May-13 15:30:13

Hi, I adopted and I'm single and self employed. I wasn't entitled to maternity pay/leave. I just wanted to say to chrissyjay that the local authority that I ultimately adopted through assessed my living expense and then basically paid me maternity leave for the six months I was off work. It was quite a lot of money but they wanted to give me and my child the best start possible. I don't know if this is normal or not but it did mean that the financial stress was taken away and I could comfortably take time off. I had saved for the six months before the adoption as I assumed I would get nothing. It was amazing to get that great start and made a difference. Its worth checking if the LA you eventually adopt through would be open to this.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 30-May-13 15:38:24

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