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Just starting out. How do we pick an Agency?

(16 Posts)
WalkTheLime Mon 19-May-14 13:57:12

Delurkuing to ask a question about starting out.

We've spoken to a couple of VAs locally (I think those are the only 2 who deal with our area) and both conversations were very positive. The second agency encouraged us to go with the Agency that we feel most comfortable with.

We liked both the people we spoke to, both agencies said all the right things and I don't really know where to go from here.

Do we have initial meetings with both or is that really frowned up?

Any advice would be so helpful.

64x32x24 Mon 19-May-14 14:12:16

We had initial meetings with 2 LAs and one VA. I did hesitate about 'wasting everybody's time' but a friend pointed out that we were going to make decisions that were going to affect us for a lifetime, so choosing the right agency was much more important than worrying about wasting someone's time. Once we had decided on one, I was glad because I knew exactly why I had chosen them (a compromise; we knew they weren't perfect but they had one thing we wanted, which the others didn't) and when there were hitches in the process, I didn't find myself wondering 'what would it be like if we had gone with the others' or such. Instead I 'knew' that this bit might well have been easier with the others but the part I cared about would be easier with ours, so it was worth just gritting my teeth and getting on with it.

If you do initial visits with both, you may well have a clearer feeling for which one you like better. If you are still undecided, you could ask questions such as pertaining to post-adoption support, you can read their OFSTED reports where something or other might stand out for you, you can ask them for stats on how long it usually takes them to get their prospective adopters assessed and matched. You could ask if they generally have the same SW for assessing and matching, or if they have high staff turnover meaning that chances are you will see several SWs and none will really properly get to know you. Ask whatever you can think of!

If you still think they'd both be equally good, you can roll the dice! Or, VA I believe are charities and you could see what else they do in their charitable work and see if you share the charity's general values.

WalkTheLime Mon 19-May-14 14:26:06

That's really helpful 64x32x24 Thank your for taking the time to reply. I think we'll set up meetings with the two we've spoken too and hopefully one will stand out.

Italiangreyhound Tue 20-May-14 02:00:01

Walkthelime, are these local or county authorities or voluntary agencies? A voluntary agency does not have any children to place. A local county council/authority etc will have children to place. I have never really seen the benefits of a voluntary agency over a county council or local council that has children to place, but others may disagree.

I would suggest speaking to any authorities that have children to place and seeing if they have the type of child you would like to adopt. Ours told us they had quite a lot of young children, babies and toddlers, all boys and mostly under three. They also had girls who were all older, 6 plus. They did not have any aged three, which was the age we thought we would quite like to adopt. But things do change and when we came to adopt there were children aged three and we also heard about sibling groups, which we had not heard about before. Most of the younger kids were boys and still more of the girls were older. In your area the situation might have changed in the year or so or months you are in the process but actually for our area, it was not that different and you can only really access on what is current since no one knows how things will be when you are approved.

For local authorities/county councils and voluntary agencies you can also ask about support etc, what they offer (our county had a free, compulsory, parenting course and has offered on going training for free for adopters) and their criteria for who they are looking for. I would ask both about time frame, long long it will take to get approved, as this might influence you.

So in my humble opinion it is best to just see what the situation is like now and, remember, once approved you can go on the adoption register if you are in England or Wales.

Good luck.

WalkTheLime Tue 20-May-14 09:53:57

Hi Italian. Thanks for your response.

I did contact our LA but they wouldn't even enter into a conversation with us because we have a BC who is 4 and they have a minimum requirement for any BC to be at least 5. I can understand that everyone has their guidelines but I just felt totally dismissed and, if I'm honest, discouraged by them.

On the other hand, the two VAs I spoke to were warm, friendly and willing to consider our specific circumstances before making a call on whether they would be willing to consider us, especially as a we are dual-heritage family. Both also spoke about the support they offer, one in particular is very active on lots of different fronts locally and both said that there were children waiting that come from backgrounds that matches ours.

One VA in particular, who also have an office in a very multicultural city felt that we would be able to find a match quite quickly. Maybe this is the one we should go for.

We still have lots of thinking to do but I can't tell you how helpful reading through this board has been - I'm sure I'll be back (a lot!).

WalkTheLime Tue 20-May-14 09:55:15

And Congratulations Italian!!!

Italiangreyhound Tue 20-May-14 10:51:15

As a dual heritage family i think you will be snapped up. We were also told we had to wait, when we first asked our local authority DD was 2 and we were told 4, we tried when she was 3 and were told 4 and a half, we tried when she was 4 and were told 5! i felt terrible and recently met another lady who had a similar experience, so it is not personal. I think you should go with the one you feel is best. In your circumstances a VA may well be better, I only said I have never really seen the benefits of a voluntary agency over a county council or local council that has children to place..." But in your case I can see benefits.

WalkTheLime Tue 20-May-14 17:27:23

The LA didn't even get as far as asking about our heritage - it was a straight no once they found out our youngest DCs age.

I hadn't considered the fact that the LAs want to place with their own adopters first but that's definitely something worth thinking about. I think I might contact them again (and see if I get someone different) but also look at neighbouring LAs who might also have a need for adopters with our ethnic mix.

We are in the SE so I'm wondering whether it's worth approaching any of the London Boroughs although we might be too far away for them.

Italiangreyhound Wed 21-May-14 00:04:56

walkthelinme I really think if you do want to explore the local authority you should call again in a few days and start with your family heritage. It will either be a game changer or it will mean nothing but if they do have children of the 'correct' heritage for you guys they may well wish to work with you and you may find things change. Also it would be unfortunate to access them on on phone call with someone who did not have all the facts. Can I just add that being mixed heritage does depend what those heritages are, or course! A Tibetan/Dutch or French/Egyptian mix is not necessarily going to get you very far! But I expect you know that! (Oh please don't say you are Tibetan/Dutch!)

Italiangreyhound Wed 21-May-14 00:05:44

assess not access!

WalkTheLime Wed 21-May-14 08:11:29

Now that you mention it Italian....grin

No don't worry, we a not particularly exotic mix of White British and Indian. We're in a city that is multicultural but within a county that isn't at all. I will give the LA another chance and sent them an email yesterday - hopefully then they'll have a chance to consider and consult.

We're already learning what a unique experience the adoption journey is going to be and each chat with an agency has felt a bit like a job interview.

KristinaM Wed 21-May-14 16:56:43

OP, you are in a strong position because a lot of waiting children are from mixed heritage families. Quite often the exact cultural and racial background is unknown ( usually because the birth mother doesn't know much about the background of the father ) .

So they are usually very pleased to have anyone "non white " ( sorry,I know this is rather odd and vaguely offensive but that's how it is ) .

You can afford to be picky about the agency that you choose. You can ask them how many children they have placed in the last 3 years of the type that you are considering eg age group, ethnicity , gender . In a VA you are likely to get a SW who specialises in adoption. They are often better on post placement support .

WalkTheLime Wed 21-May-14 19:53:00

That's really good advice and thanks for highlighting things that I wouldn't have thought to ask Kristina

MooseyMouse Thu 22-May-14 04:35:09

I liked being with a voluntary agency. As soon as you're approved they start searching nationally for children. The agency doesn't get paid until you are matched so they're very motivated.

My partner is black, we had a birth child under four and, once we were approved, we went to an exchange day where we were given profiles for literally dozens of children aged under two.

Really good luck whatever you decide.

WalkTheLime Fri 23-May-14 12:02:33

Just a little update. I have spoken to the LA again they have agreed to us attending an information evening but again I am feeling a bit deflated by their response.

They were pretty negative about the age of our youngest and therefore the age of child we would be looking at. They said there were a lot of approved adopters already looking for that age group and that, if they even decided to accept our application, it could take a while to be matched.

The two VAs that I spoke to were much more positive so it seems like one of those would be the best for us.

64x32x24 Fri 23-May-14 14:27:49

Hi again,

we had that too, the 'not before DS is 5' line, might be the same LA!(Also SE) Also totally unwelcoming towards us, a bit condescending and patronising.

There is this theory here on the forum, that the people who answer the initial phone calls are trained to turn people off, so for those who get past them into the process, they know that they are persistent and don't give up easily!

However we really preferred a LA over a VA, despite the VAs we talked to being very welcoming and enthusiastic about us. So we called around to neighbouring LAs. I just realised that no-one on this thread has yet suggested this to you (I think) and that would definitely by my next step if I were you. 'Your' LA might very well NOT have many young children/babies to place, or (and this is purely a theory of mine) might have an implicit policy of preferring to place young babies with childless couples for some reason. (Ok it is not purely theory. A SW told me that this USED to be their policy, just a few years ago, before so many more young children/babies were in the care system.) If you feel unwelcome there, I suspect there would just be grief ahead (unless there is another independent, compelling reason making them preferable), so if you want to pursue the option of a LA further, then widen your net so to say. If you are in the SE there are probably a few other LAs within distance. It wouldn't hurt to give them a call/send off an e-mail and see what they say!

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