The adoption process

Steps involved in the adoption process, from checks and references, to the assessment and placing a child with you.

1 Overview

The adoption application process is split into the following stages:

  • Information stage
  • Stage 1 assessment
  • Stage 2 assessment
  • Approved adopters.

A decision will be made at the end of the Stage 2 assessment as to your suitability to adopt.

We aim to complete the adoption process within six months.

A brief summary of each stage is outlined in the following sections. More details can be found in our adoption information pack.

Adoption information pack (PDF, 719KB)

2 Information stage

Initial enquiry

Your enquiry to us (which you can make either online, over the phone or at one of our information sessions) will mark the start of your journey to adoption.

Before you make your enquiry it is useful to:

If you feel ready to take the next steps towards adopting with West Sussex, you can enquire about it online.

Initial call

Once we have received your online enquiry, our duty worker will phone you to answer any immediate questions you have about adopting with us. We will then send further information for you to read.

Once we have spoken to you we will be able to look at what the next best steps would be for you; it may be that you need some time to think about things, we may invite you to one of our information events or we may arrange to visit you at home.

Initial visit

If a visit is appropriate, we will run through in more detail what adoption involves and give you the chance to ask more questions.

Expression of interest

We will send you a Registration of Interest form to complete. This formal application signifies your readiness to progress with an adoption assessment.

3 Stage 1 assessment

This stage of the process is adopter-led and should take no more than two months, unless you need more time. 

During this stage, you will explore your capacity for adoption. You will be invited to attend a three-day preparatory training course where you will learn more about becoming an adopter and parenting an adopted child. 

You will also be asked to undertake some individual reading, where appropriate, as well as completing an adoption workbook.

We will start checks, including:

Stage 1 will come to an end when an adoption team manager makes a decision to progress you on to Stage 2 of the process.

Support will be offered by the adoption team throughout.

4 Stage 2 assessment

This stage is led by your dedicated assessing social worker, with input from you (and your partner, where relevant) throughout the process.

During your first assessment visit, your adoption worker will agree an assessment plan with you and set dates for some home visits, working towards a final panel date. This is sometimes known as a Stage 2 agreement.

We will also keep you informed about the children in your area who are currently awaiting adoption.

The Prospective Adopter's Report 

As the assessment reaches its final stages your adoption social worker will write a Prospective Adopter's Report (PAR). This details your potential as an adoptive parent, along with the results of your adoption medical, police and authority checks and personal references.

The adoption panel and decision-making

The final stage of the process will be for you to meet with an adoption panel.

You will be invited to attend a panel meeting where the members will make their recommendation in relation to your approval as adoptive parents.

5 Approved adopters

Matching you with children

Your adoption social worker will visit you to draw up a matching agreement once you have been approved to adopt. This agreement will outline how we will go about finding the right match for you and your family.

We will then begin to consider whether there are children waiting for adoption locally who might be a suitable match for you.

If no local children are identified as possible matches, our social workers will look for children across a wider area using the National Adoption Register (with your consent) and Adoption Link.

Introductions and placement 

Next we will arrange an adoption planning meeting where you, your social worker, the child’s social worker, your child’s foster carers and their social worker will get together.

We will discuss and pull together all the planning required to ensure you have everything you need and the child is as prepared as possible for the move to your care. At this meeting a very detailed introduction plan will be agreed to set out how best to introduce the child to you, and vice versa.  

Supporting adopters and children

The early days and weeks of placement are life-changing and can be very exciting. They can also be exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Here in West Sussex we are committed to providing adopters with high-quality support and we will make sure that you and the child/children you plan to adopt receive regular social work visits.

Adoption Order 

Following a period of post-placement support, and when everyone is happy that your child or children have settled successfully into your family, a discussion will be held about when you will apply for an Adoption Order. This will be undertaken at a looked after children review meeting.

6 Further information

Last updated:
3 October 2019
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