X. The Application Process

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Youre now ready to begin developing your relationship with a particular agency and a social worker. Youre on the road to getting assessed. What will happen between now and the day when your social worker phones up to say youve been accepted by the panel?

Rather than a rigid timetable, its better to think of the next stage as consisting of a shopping list of things to be done, not all of them in a specified order. Some agencies, for example, require you to attend adoption preparation classes before you make a formal application and start the home study; others do the home study and preparation classes simultaneously. But in either case the end goal is the same.

Even then, if you have applied for a particular child, or been told about a particular child during the assessment period, the items in this chapter and the next one may be gone through simultaneously, with you being accepted as adopters in principle and being matched with a particular child at the same panel meeting.

The time from now to meeting your new child can be as short as a few weeks or as long as a number of years. It depends on many factors, including the efficiency of the agency and your social worker, how long it takes to get the reports in from the Criminal Records Bureau and other agencies, whos on holiday, the availability of a child for whom you are the right family, the vagaries of scheduling meetings, and you yourself. There isnt much you can do about some of these factors, but its up to you to do your part where you can: turning up for meetings and classes on time, getting your documents in order, chasing up people when you can, not changing your mind frivolously, filling in forms carefully and completely the first time, not moving house to the other end of the country, etc.

There will be busy times, with meetings, form-filling, maybe getting documents translated. But there will also be periods of slack time when nothing seems to be happening. People will be waiting for reports from other agencies or references, waiting for the next meeting of some committee, waiting while someone has her annual holiday or is off ill (followed by someone else crucial going on holiday, followed by Christmas ...), waiting for the phone to ring, for a baby to be born, for a court case to be scheduled .... Unfortunately, sometimes nothing really is happening, because your file has been lost or put to the bottom of the in-tray. Be ready to chase people when you think this may have happened.

One voluntary agency lists these as the steps in their assessment and placement process:

  • Initial interview [already discussed in the previous section]
  • Application form
  • Statutory checks with the Criminal Records Bureau, doctor, social services and the Department of Health
  • Interviews with referees
  • Preparation classes and home study
  • Writing the assessment report
  • Panel meeting for approval
  • Matching you with a child and the matching Panel meeting
  • Introductions: getting to know your child
  • Moving in with you
  • The adoption order
  • Post-adoption support where needed.

The two major components to this process are: the Preparation Classes and the Home Study (or Assessment), which as I said above can happen at the same time or one after the other. Each of them has a little constellation of subsidiary activities or facets.

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