Adoption Enquiries - Practice Guidance

Page providing practice guidance about how to achieve the expectations in relation to responding to enquiries about adoption.

Prospective Adopters

 Initial enquiry & response

The initial enquiry should always be dealt with promptly and in a sensitive manner as this first approach to the Fostering and Adoption Team is often very difficult for the prospective applicant(s).  Basic details should be taken and recorded on an Enquiry Form

 initiate the checklist If a telephone or face-to-face enquiry, verbal information should be given and followed up with an information pack, if a written enquiry then an information pack should be sent out.  The pack should be sent to all prospective applicant(s) within 5 working days of their enquiry.  Care should be taken to ensure that the information is accessible to the enquirer.

Initial visit/information meeting

If prospective applicant(s) indicate that they wish to gain further information or to progress their enquiry after the receipt of the information pack, they should either be offered an initial visit or be invited to an information meeting.  This should be provided as soon as possible after interest has been shown, and must be within 2 months of their initial enquiry. If, as a result of information gained either at initial enquiry stage or during the subsequent visit the agency does not consider that the prospective applicant(s) meet the criteria to adopt the prospective applicant(s) should be informed in writing and the reason(s) given.

If one or both of the prospective applicant(s) reports current health or medical concerns or a previous significant history of medical/health issues the Agency Medical Adviser's views should be sought at an early stage in order to ascertain their suitability to adopt from a medical perspective.  This will usually require the applicant(s) concerned to undergo an adoption medical at this stage.

Preparation groups

After an initial visit, if it is the view of the Fostering and Adoption Team Manager that an application should be invited an assessment should be completed the prospective adopters will be invited by letter to attend the next available preparation group.

Such an invitation does not guarantee that the Fostering and Adoption Team will progress the application onto a Prospective Adopter Assessment.

During the preparation groups a member of the Fostering and Adoption Team should keep in contact with the prospective applicant(s) to monitor their response to information provided and discuss concerns.

Upon completion of the preparation groups a report must be written by the group leaders and shared with the prospective applicant(s). The group report, once completed and signed, must be sent to the team manager adoption, in the agency processing the application.  Significant issues within the report should be addressed by the Fostering and Adoption Team. This report should only be written if the applicants complete a formal application form to adopt.

The group report will be included with the Prospective Adopter's Report when the application is considered by the Adoption and Permanency Panel.


Following attendance of the preparation group and on receipt of an application the Fostering and Adoption Team will decide whether or not to proceed to the assessment stage.  The Fostering and Adoption Team should take account of the agency policy in relation to the prioritising of applications, CRB checks; preparation group feedback information detailed on the application form and any other information known to the Fostering and adoption Team at the time that may be pertinent.

Applicant(s) should be notified in writing whether or not their application will be progressed to the next stage.  Where the application is to be progressed the letter should also give the name of the allocated social worker.

Where the application is not going to be taken up by the Fostering and adoption Team, the reasons why should be given in writing and advice given about other or future options.  It is good practice to offer a visit by the allocated Fostering and Adoption Social Worker to discuss these.

Where an application is accepted a case file should be started.

References & Verification

References to be taken up and certificates to be seen. Medical reference required.

If any causes of concern emerge as a result of any reference, advice should always be taken from line manager and discussion, outcome and action, detailed on the file.

Prospective Adopter Report (see also DfES Guidance on Preparing and assessing prospective adopters)

The Prospective Adopter Report should be completed by a social worker with at least 3 years post qualifying experience including direct experience of adoption work or the worker must be supervised by someone who has the required level of experience.

The Prospective Adopter report should be presented to the Adoption and Permanency Panel in a timely manner bearing in mind the following. From the date of the formal application to the date of the adoption panel should be no more than 6 months If these time scales are not met the reasons should be recorded in the case file and noted at panel.

It is good practice to book an Adoption and Permanency Panel date in line with the timescales, at the time that the application is accepted.The Prospective Adopter Report  should be completed in line with the BAAF PAR format.  Note should also be taken of the Framework for Assessment and in some cases the use of the Adult Attachment Interview could be considered.

Assessment interviews must include:

The assessment must include:

Applicant(s) should be enabled to talk with others who have adopted a child(ren) via the Fostering and Department Team.

Applicant(s) should be encouraged to actively contribute to the assessment report, this will include them preparing a complete life history chronology, a family tree and an ecomap and providing a financial statement.

An education and employment chronology must be included in the life history chronology.

Each part of the Prospective adopter report must include evidence and social work assessment of the information provided and its relevance to the application, as well as the views of the applicant(s).  Evidence can be drawn from many sources including discussions, references, written work, direct observation of the applicant(s) with child(ren), their home etc. The social worker should be objective, enquiring and analytical and information should be checked for accuracy and consistency.

References must be taken up  but if further evidence is required then there is discretion to ask the applicant(s) to provide additional referees.

Applicant(s) will each be required to undergo a full adoption medical with their own GP and are responsible for any associated costs. The AH medical form will then be forwarded to Dr Lean, the Agency Medical Advisor, for his comments.

The onus is on the applicant(s) to demonstrate that they have the capacity to care for a child(ren) in a safe and responsible way that is likely to meet the child(ren)'s needs.  It is, therefore, incumbent upon the applicant(s) to provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the Department.

Finances must be explored so that the Fostering and Adoption Team can be certain that the applicant(s) are realistic with regard to the costs involved in bringing up a child(ren) and are in a position to meet these demands.  This does not mean that the applicant(s) have to have a high income or savings but they should be able to support their lifestyle including any child(ren) that may be placed.

Any areas of concern that arise during the course of the Home Study should be discussed in supervision and raised and addressed with the applicant(s) at the earliest opportunity.

The case file must be kept up to date.  All contact with and visits to the applicant(s) should be recorded.

Towards the end of the assessment, visits to the personal referees who have already provided a written reference, should be made. It must be remembered that of the 3 referees provided only one can be a family member and all must be interviewed.  A visit should also be carried out with any relative of each applicant if they are to be involved in caring for the child prior to an adoption Order being made.  Any interviews should be written up and the record signed by both the worker and the referee.  Wherever possible these interviews should be undertaken by the allocated Fostering and Adoption Social Worker conducting the assessment of the prospective adopter(s).

Health and safety issues must be discussed.  A detailed health and safety check will need to be completed before the approval of the applicant(s) is considered by the adoption panel.

Family Safety Caring Policy to be completed.

Pet questionnaire and if applicable a GSPCA pet assessment.

Assessment Report

Type up the assessment  in draft form using the BAAF PAR

It is very helpful for the evidence supporting the applicant(s)' views/statements to be highlighted in bold type.

Share the draft report with the applicant(s) and discuss its content.  Where there is any discrepancy of views between the report writer and the applicant(s) these should be detailed in the final report.

Share draft report with the person completing the second opinion visit/report.  This person should be an experienced worker who is in a position to challenge both the applicant(s) and the assessing social worker where appropriate.

The second opinion worker should visit the applicant(s) and then write a report.

Guidance re completion of second opinion visit and report.

A final draft of the assessment report should be completed by the link worker.  A copy of this report (not including the references), the group report and the second opinion report should be given to the applicant(s) with them being given 10 days  to consider the contents and sign the document.

Applicants must sign the final report.  If any discrepancy of views remain the applicant(s) have the right to provide additional written information for the adoption panel's consideration.

The allocated Fostering and Adoption Social Worker undertaking the assessment and his/her manager(s) must also read and sign the completed assessment report.

If, during the course of the assessment, the agency considers that the prospective adopter(s) may not be suitable to adopt, but the issues remain unresolved and the applicant(s) cannot be counselled out a brief report may be presented to the Adoption and Permanency Panel outlining the issues.  In such circumstances the panel adviser and the Fostering and Adoption Team Manager must be consulted.

The Adoption and Permanency Panel should receive the report within 6 weeks of its completion