1 What is Fostering for Adoption?
Fostering for Adoption is a scheme that places babies and children with families approved as foster carers and adopters while the court determines the plan for their future.
Children are identified for this scheme in situations where there is significant evidence to suggest they are unlikely to return to birth family members. The aim is that the child will only have one placement.
The positives of Fostering for Adoption are enormous; the child doesn’t experience multiple moves with different carers and the adoptive parents have the chance to nurture the child from a very young age.
The adopters that have been through this process tell us how important building that early bond is and the joy they feel at being there when their child smiles for the first time, sits up on their own or starts to crawl.
Wendy Wood, Adoption Team Manager
2 Advantages and risks of Fostering for Adoption
Fostering for Adoption provides children with good quality, consistent care that:
- reduces possible harm to their emotional wellbeing
- helps them develop healthy attachments with potential adopters
- enables them to build memories with the family they can stay with if they cannot return to their birth family.
Fostering for Adoption allows prospective adopters to:
- celebrate early developmental milestones and events with children
- care for a newborn or very young child.
A Fostering for Adoption placement may end if the court decides the child should move back home or to another family member. This means living with uncertainty for a period of time, whilst the court determines the final care plan for the child.
It also means coping with the loss of the child if the placement ends, and the impact this has on the wider family.
In mainstream routes to adoption it is the child that bears the uncertainty and disruption, whereas in Fostering for Adoption it is the adults.
However, in the majority of cases, children remain in their Fostering for Adoption placement.
3 How children are identified for placements
Fostering for Adoption placements are often made in circumstances where one of the following applies:
- evidence suggests that the circumstances of parents who have had one or more children placed for adoption (or another form of permanent placement) have not changed
- the circumstances of the parents and the risks to the child means there is no plan to return the child to the birth parents or to other family members
- it has been indicated that the parents may want their child adopted.
4 What we look for in carers
As well as the skills we look for in all prospective adopters, carers will be expected to demonstrate:
- emotional resilience
- the capacity to put the child’s needs before their own
- the ability to manage uncertainty, tension and stress and not pass this on to the child
- the ability to work in partnership with birth parents, and facilitate contact
- the ability to keep clear records and contribute to meetings about the child in the role of a foster carer
- some experience of looking after very young children or willingness to gain this experience before or during the assessment process
- empathy for birth parents
- the ability to support the return of the child to their birth family if it is decided this is in their best interests
- a positive outlook.
During assessment, applicants can discuss with their adoption social worker whether they have the qualities needed. The social worker will make a recommendation about Fostering for Adoption in the prospective adopter’s report, to be considered by the adoption panel.
5 Facilitating contact between children and birth family members
Fostering for Adoption carers are expected to carry out the same level of contact as a regular foster carer for birth parents and extended family. Depending on the court’s view, and whether a Fostering for Adoption plan is being considered, this could mean several times a week for a young baby.
If the child has contact with their birth parents, carers may be expected to transport the child to and from a contact centre and hand over the child to a supervisor who will observe the family for the duration of the contact. They will also need to provide any required items, such as nappies or milk.
Contact can be very important for children and their parents, but any arrangements must focus on the child’s needs and welfare. The specific arrangements would be discussed and support provided if the court ordered any additional contacts.
As Fostering for Adoption carers, confidentiality is protected and the birth family will not be given identifying details.
6 Support for carers
Fostering for Adoption carers receive a weekly fostering allowance. Those in employment may also be entitled to adoption leave and pay - employers should be contacted to explore individual entitlements.
The child’s social worker and adoption social worker will offer advice and support. The adoption team will provide a handbook and requirement details regarding the role of the foster carer, as well as details of support groups and training courses.
Support continues throughout the placement and the usual post-adoption support services apply once an adoption order is granted.
Fostering allowances will stop if the child returns to their birth family or is placed with family or friends, or once it has been agreed the child can remain in the Fostering for Adoption placement.
Once the child has lived with carers for 10 or more weeks, the adoption social worker can advise on how to apply to court for an adoption order.
7 Further information
We are really interested in hearing from people who are thinking about Fostering for Adoption. To find out more, or discuss any adoption issues, contact us.
We cover Fostering for Adoption at our information sessions and also have a module as part of our preparation course for adopters.