THE “HOME STUDY”
The main part of the assessment is a series of visits made by a social worker from your adoption agency to your home. During this time the social worker gets to know you and your family and spends time helping you think about what strengths you could bring to adoptive parenting.
This process involves conversations with you, and your partner if you are a couple. Your social worker will also meet any children you have and other people who live with you, as well as some of your wider friends and family who are your personal referees. The assessment process is designed to help the agency get a rounded picture of you and your family.
Before I went through the adoption process my main fear was being judged and subject to intense scrutiny by a stranger who would doubt my ability to parent. However, the reality was an interesting, almost therapeutic experience with my social worker who wasn’t in the slightest bit judgmental about me, my small house, or about my attitudes, beliefs and hopes.
During this time the social worker will have conversations with you about your childhood and your experiences of growing up. They will ask you about how you have dealt with past experiences, how you feel about your family and what sort of parent you want to be. Your capacity to reflect on your own past experiences may well be important in the future as you help your child reflect on things that have happened in their early years.
The agency may well want to contact previous partners, especially if there have been children involved in the relationship, and any adult children you or your partner might have. While this might seem intimidating remember that, like the whole adoption process, this is done with the best interests of the children in mind. Former partners do not have any veto over your right to adopt, but your social worker may want to discuss with you why your relationship ended and what you learnt from it.
Remember, the whole process is focused on finding the right homes for the children in care, so understanding the kinds of children you could support is very important. The agency is trying to establish that you and your partner have the resilience and emotional maturity to be a good parent, and that you have a good support network around you in friends and family.
Once the assessment process is complete the social worker will gather all of the information together into a Prospective Adopters Report which is what is taken to the agency’s independent Adoption Panel. You will be provided with a copy of this and have five working days to comment on it before it goes to panel if you wish.