All kinds of children need adopting - from toddlers and young school-age children to siblings who need to stay together.

And all kinds of people can adopt - people with children or without, employed or unemployed, people with a partner, single or married. The most important things are that you want children and are prepared for the rewards and challenges in adoption.

There are now two routes to adoption

  • Many of our families who adopt do so through the traditional adoption route, where you are approved as adopters and then matched with a child who you later go on to adopt. See the adoption process below more details.
  • We also offer a new early permanence scheme where approved adopters are firstly the foster carers to a child. If the court agrees the plan of adoption for the child, the carer then goes on to be matched and adopt the child in their care. This scheme helps us to place babies and young children in their permanent placement at a very early stage and reduces the number of moves that children sometimes experience. Early placement plans are suitable for only a smaller number of children. We can talk to you about both options and help you decide which route is right for you.

Information for prospective adopters

Adoption information sessions

Are you interested in giving a child a new start in life? Would you like to find out more about the adoption process and what it could mean for you?

If you'd like to take the first step on your adoption journey, please call the adoption team on 01609 534032 for an informal chat or email adoption@northyorks.gov.uk for further information.

If you decide you would like to take your enquiry further, you will be invited to one of the information sessions where you can speak to the team and meet others starting on the road to becoming an adoptive family.

The dates for 2017 are:

  • Monday 4 September
  • Monday 2 October
  • Monday 6 November
  • Monday 4 December

The dates for 2018 are:

  • 8 January
  • 8 February
  • 6 March 
  • 2 April
  • 8 May
  • 4 June
  • 2 July
  • 6 August
  • 3 September
  • 1 October
  • 5 November
  • 3 December


Adoption stories

Most people thinking about adoption have lots of questions and many find it helpful to learn about other adoptive parents' stories of when they became a family. What's it like when you first come home with your adopted child or children? Where do you turn for support? Here, some of our adopters share their experiences.

Some children need a lot of help to deal with their past experiences. Older children will need lots of time and patience before they start to really believe that people can be trusted and some may never fully believe this. But children are amazingly resilient and determined - they can be a real inspiration to their adoptive families.

The greatest need is always for adopters of children aged between three and eight and we prioritise applicants for this age range. We also need adopters of disabled children.

Michelle (42) and Chris (47) adopted their son last year when he was five years old. Here, they describe their adoption story.

How did it feel to bring your son home for the first time?

You've got a lot of new things to get used to. Some things you get used to quicker than you would think and other things seemed to take longer. It's not like having a baby, because he's already got a personality, he's already learnt a lot of behaviours and he can speak for himself. 

We spent five days with him before bringing him home. They said he's so ready for his new family, there's no point in dragging it out. On the Monday we met him for the first time and on the Friday, we drove him home!

We had to teach him things like boundaries, we had to tell him, you don't need to shout, we're just here, and we'll hear you! They wanted him to go to a couple with no children so he'd have one-to-one care and we noticed that his development came on leaps and bounds straight away.

But he's so secure now and he's more than happy to go on a sleepover on his own to his auntie's house. He loves family and being altogether. We have our ups and downs like everybody else, but he's just great fun!

Did you start out wanting a five year old boy?

No, I wanted a baby girl - the younger, the better! But the whole process changed your attitude. You became more open to other possibilities.

The people who led the course were really good. They introduced us to a lady who had adopted a little girl at the age of eight. Her story opened your eyes a bit and you thought well, if they can manage with a girl who's eight and been through a lot of stuff, so can we.

Those stories that those people were able to bring were really useful. But you get so much theory thrown at you because you need to have your eyes and your mind open.

I think because of his age he was kind of running out of options, because people often do want a younger one. I did, until I saw his picture, and I thought he's gorgeous! And you've got this guy who needed a break and you've given him a break and he gives you so much back.

Did you have any preconceptions about the adoption process?

We had spoken to a colleague who adopted two children, and I think she had a more negative experience than we did. For us, the information that we were given at the beginning of the process was quite clear about what was going to happen and when.

We went to an information evening where we watched a film to show the circumstances that some of the kids come from, and I think that was supposed to really upset you. The social worker said it might feel like they're trying to put you off and in a funny way they are because they need to know you're up for this.

The preparation course that we did was really well put together. We were concerned the first day we went and we left after every day feeling, energised and motivated and fired up. It was a really good balance of telling us what we needed to know, introducing real people who had gone through it, giving us exercises to do, making us aware of the things we need to know. It didn't feel like a drag or anything.

But then once we got approved as adopters, the same day we got given our son's profile.

Did you have the support you needed?

Yes, our employers were very supportive indeed. One of our bosses lives with a lady who has adopted so he was very supportive.

And our son's social worker was fantastic. She really easy to talk to, you just felt she was there, she was on your side and I think that's what you need.

But we got some great advice from a friend within our support network one time who said, just remember, he's a child first and he's adopted second.

What's the best thing about adoptive parents?

That's a big question! But I'd say it was something small, like the way he laughs or the way he smiles.

This morning, at breakfast time he was just sat there, and I can't remember what he was saying but he's got a beautiful smile and he had this massive great grin on his face and you think, it's great, this! But when it's just been me and him for the day, he likes nothing better than to go for a walk in the countryside and it's lovely, just spending the day with him. It's the simple pleasures.

But also watching him progress and grow is phenomenal, actually. We take him swimming quite a lot and he just loves it. And he wouldn't go down the slide on his own at first but his confidence is building. He's just in now and he's off!

What would you say to someone who was thinking about adoption?

Just do it. If you're thinking about it, just do it. We never considered IVF. It could have been an option for us but we didn't feel it was right for us.

If you can talk to someone who's been through it and you can meet the kids, I think that's really important.

Don't be scared by it. We were talking to someone about it the other day, who was saying that they couldn't face the inquisition, but you need to get over it, don't you. What's more important - feeling uncomfortable for an afternoon or having a child for the rest of your life?

Paul (33) and Anne (37) adopted two brothers 18 months ago, after several unsuccessful IVF attempts. They're now starting the process again to adopt their third child. Here, they share their experiences and urge others to take the plunge.

How long did you think about adopting before you took the first step?

We'd been thinking about it for about a year before. We'd previously had IVF for the best part of four or five years and it'd not worked. It had been something we'd been discussing probably longer than a year. Looking back, if we knew then what we know now, we'd have just gone straight for it.

When we initially contacted social services, they were a bit unsure about us being in the army, with all the moving around, but by the second meeting they were really positive. And our social worker has been really good.

How did you find the application process?

We got on our preparation course very quickly but some people did have to wait quite a while. So we were quite lucky to get on that pretty quickly.

There were some positives from it, like meeting successful adopters with their children - that was very good. There was another day when we went to a discussion forum with other potential adopters and some who had recently adopted, and again that was very helpful to speak to those people. The application process was quite long, but I understand things have changed a bit now, which is good.

What sort of support did you receive on your way through the process and since then?

Our social worker has been fantastic, she's been really good. We can call her whenever we want. We've never really had to, but we know that we could if we needed to.

Has the Army supported you through the process as well?

Yes, they've been very supportive. As soon as we let them know know what we wanted to do, they were really very good about it. They knew we'd been going through IVF and I'd had time off for that anyway.

On camp here, they're very good. They've got things that you can take your kids to and they're all free. And they're open to civilian families as well so you can meet local families too. It's ideal really.

I was even meant to be getting posted to Nottingham last week and I went through the welfare system and told them we were in the middle of adopting a third child and they made sure I could stay here.

Did you start out wanting to adopt siblings or did you come round to the idea as you went through the process?

We always wanted to adopt siblings from the start. We knew we wanted more than one child, and we didn't want to go through the process of adopting again, even though we are. We wanted our children to always have each other in their lives, to be able to grow together and have that connection. Even though they have been adopted they would always have each other.

Having them together has been great, sometimes exhausting but very rewarding. They love each other very much and are best friends and I can see them always being close as they grow up.

So you've not been put off going through it all again for a third child?

No, not at all! Especially now it's shorter as well. We've had to redo all the application forms again but a lot of it's just cut and paste. What's changed since last time - our address and how many children we've got!

What do you get out of an adoptive parent?

We don't feel like adoptive parents, we just feel like parents. These are our children and we love them very, very much. We've got two amazing boys and they're thriving.

Is there anything you'd say to someone who was thinking about adopting?

Just do it. Take the plunge and go along with the ride! We're just so glad we did it because it's the best thing we've ever done.

Alice (46) and Ben (47) adopted James and his disabled brother Luke, when they were four and three respectively, and their four birth children were in their teens.

What led you to start thinking about adoption?

We've been married nearly 25 years and we've always had the idea that we'd like to have four children and then adopt after that. And that's exactly what happened! But it just started as a dream a long time ago.

When we first looked into adoption, it was back 2006, we were renting a farmhouse, Ben had just started his business and we had four children close together in age so it was quite a handful. The adoption service thought it would work better if the children were a bit older. At the time we didn't like that, we were anxious to get on with it straight away. But I think that the children being a bit older has made it easier for them, because they can understand the whole thing better. They can be sympathetic rather than feeling like they're competing.

Were there any aspects of the adoption process that worried you?

No, people always said they want to know everything about you but as far as we were concerned that was a good thing. From our angle, they're working to find what's best for us because they're on our side really, so we didn't find that difficult. People say it's scary but in our case it wasn't.

So how did you find the process in the end?

North Yorkshire were really, really good. The course was brilliant. All the social workers were really just brilliant people. You started to want to be a social worker, because we were really impressed by all of them. We felt on their wave length with them, all the communication and all our contact at home was really good.

Were there any elements of the preparation course that particularly stand out for you?

The bit we always remember is how they teach you that adopted children have missed out on the 'blocks' in their early years, so even though they're aged three and four, you might expect to be doing something that you'd do for a one year old. Like, when they first arrived, they woke up at five every morning and they'd have snuggle time, and we wrapped them in blankets! That time is really valuable. Because they are babies really and that's the sort of baby stuff that you're putting back in.

We also spoke to the school about giving James and Luke opportunities to give them back those early years, and they've been brilliant about it.

Did you always want to adopt a child with additional needs or a disability?

Not initially, no. We got in touch with a fostering organisation some time ago and through them we met this one woman who had four birth children, four adopted children and two of them were disabled and she really inspired us. In the end it was obvious that we weren't fosterers, we were adopters. But it was still really helpful and they gave us the vision that things can work really well with disabled children.

We thought that maybe our birth children would be able to find it easier to understand a disabled child - there's a physical need there and maybe that was easier for them to engage with. Sometimes I think the disability protects them from a bit of trauma as well, because the health professionals get in there quite early on. There are lots of plusses, I think.

How have your birth children taken to being adoptive siblings?

We were just terrified of hurting our own children, but we started believe that it would be a great thing for them and it has been. The centre of the home is still focused on children because we've got the two little ones. And they all do different things with them and they all have a different way of relating to them and it's been really exciting to watch. There's a nice kind of pride in them about it, like they feel part of something that's been really worthwhile. It's made the home go on being a family home for longer.

When they arrived it was the Easter holidays before our eldest child's A-levels and I was a bit worried about that. Jess played with them loads and she said it made it easier to revise because she had two different focuses, which helped her in a way. In the end she got into university with really high marks, so it didn't ruin her exams at all!

And what sort of support have you received from the council and from other areas/sources?

Our social worker knew the children really well, so everything that she had to offer was really valuable. All her visits were great and we found it was best just to be completely honest and whatever was happening, we'd tell her. She always had a good piece of advice every time.

The worst that can happen is that people don't ask for help when they need it. Because things could get much worse. But that's why the support after adoption is good, because they want you talk about things.

Like right at the beginning, it was lots for James to cope with to come to a new home and then into a new school. He would explode into confusion and muddle when he came home after school because everything was too much. Our social worker arranged some help just for that hour after school so I could just take him off on my own and every day he'd just run in the woods with the dogs. It's just having that extra pair of ears and eyes to think of solutions.

But our faith has been really important as well, just in helping us get this far and in how we function as a family and how we cope on a day-to-day basis. It is really vital to us.

There was another mother from school who'd had birth children like us and they adopted a boy with a disability, so we started meeting for coffee about once a month. It was really helpful because you're on a different track to the rest of the world and there are some things you're going through that nobody else has experienced. Then we asked other families who'd adopted to come along and it gradually grew into a bit of a group. Usually we meet about once a month and everybody finds it so encouraging. It's just a chance to be with other people like us!

What's nice also about this group is that now the children have got friends who are adopted. In the summer, we had them all here for a big get together and it was just really nice, you know, for adopted children to mix together and they've always got each other as well.

We were talking about it recently and we said that the people you think might be the most supportive aren't always and then it might come from an unexpected place. You don't quite know how people are going to respond to adoption, it's a bit of an unknown. So your closest friend might not end up being your best support, you just don't know what will happen.

How does it make you feel, being an adoptive parent?

We're definitely happy! It feels like you're doing something every day that's so worthwhile. Sometimes you forget, you just get on with the busyness and plodding on with life but then you just stop for a second... Someone I know described it like sunshine has come into their family, it sounds a bit hard to believe in a way, but it's true!

I didn't know how nice everybody was, really, in our society. You start seeing the world through a different pair of eyes because I've always got Luke with me so you start seeing people's reactions and people are just so nice and so warm towards him. They both bring out the best in other people, I think.

The social worker said that it's quite likely that if you're adopted that at some time in your life that you might receive some sort of prejudice about it and as a parent you have to be prepared for it.

How does it feel with them in the family now?

It feels like they've always been here. I suppose it just fills your mind, you're a family with six children and you're aware of them all six of them, all of the time. I can't really remember what it was like only having four!

And it's very rewarding in the end because you see the changes in them, and other people start seeing the changes as well and they start saying things to you and that's nice as well.

Is there anything you'd like to say to anyone else thinking about adoption?

Don't give up, especially if circumstances in your life make it seem impossible. Don't give up. And it won't go away, I think, if you've got that dream.

When you have a baby and it's in your womb, you don't stop because something's happened, you just carry on and it's almost like that, anything could happen but just don't give up, because that's life, circumstances keep changing.

You could say that there are a lot of parallels between pregnancy and adoption. You might get tired during the pregnancy and you'll get tired during the adoption, or you might get a bit fed up with pregnancy and you'll get fed up with the preparation for adoption. But you just forget about all of that as they get older, because you move on with them and new, better experiences start filling your mind.

Any other words of advice?

Be honest. The more honest you are, the more they can really work with who you are to get the best match. Just follow your heart and don't give up!

Support and advice

We provide training for all our adoptive parents before they take their child home, but sometimes adopted children can have a range of emotional, behavioural and physical needs because of their early life experiences. 

If you feel your adopted child requires specific support, you can ask us to do an adoption support assessment. This is a holistic review which gathers in-depth information about your child, your relationship with them, your family circumstances and other things that may be affecting their sense of security.

This helps us identify the underlying issues and concerns and we can develop an individual advice and support package where there is an assessed need. This can include:

  • advice on sharing a birth family's history;
  • access to adoption records and help to search;
  • supporting a child who is asking questions about their identity;
  • preparing a child for direct or indirect 'post box' contact with their birth family;
  • liaising with the child's school to ensure they receive the educational support they need;
  • parenting support and help to manage challenging behaviours;
  • help with specialist funding from the Adoption Support Fund to provide therapeutic services; and
  • providing short break care.

We also offer ongoing training, drop-in events and family fun days out to all adoptive family members.

 You can download a presentation about the full package of support and advice we provide to our adoptive families and people who have been adopted here (pdf / 878 KB).

Adoption support fund

On 1 May 2015 the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) became available to adopters throughout England. The fund was established to help families who are in need of some kind of therapeutic support. You can find out more about the fund, how it can help and how to access it here. You can find out more about fair access to the fund here.

Support for adopted young people

Want to rant or just want to chat? AT-iD is a website for adopted teenagers where they can connect with one another.

The AT-iD website is at www.at-id.org.uk.

Step parent / partner adoption

If you or your partner have children from a previous relationship living with you then you are a step-family. Some step-parents may want to make their relationship with these children more formal. One way to do this is adoption.

Depending on their age, your child's wishes and feelings about being adopted will be very important to the court. Before you begin the process, you will need to show that your child has an understanding of the nature and effects of adoption and that they know that they have another birth parent with whom they no longer live. Your child will also need to know that they are growing up with a birth parent and a step parent.

You will also need to show that you have made efforts to locate and contact the absent partner. This is in order to give the court an indication of the likely attitude of the absent parent to the proposed adoption.

Sometimes step-parent (or partner) adoption is very much the right thing to do. There are however implications which you will need to be aware of before entering into this process. There are also a number of other options which you may wish to consider.

If you have any questions about step parent / partner adoption please telephone 01609 780780.

Further information

You can request further information about adoption online below:

Request further information

Alternatively, call us on 01609 534032 or email adoption@northyorks.gov.uk.

Frequently asked questions

In the Yorkshire and Humber areas adoption services are changing to be delivered on a regional basis. This means that local authorities will no longer be individually providing adoption services but will combine to form a larger, more effective regional adoption agency.

In the north of Yorkshire and the Humber this will be happening in stages over the next few months. From April the local authorities in the area will be recruiting adopters jointly through a new regional recruitment website, 'One Adoption North and Humber'. This will join together adoption services from North East Lincolnshire Council, Hull City Council, North Yorkshire County Council, City of York Council, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, North Lincolnshire Council, the voluntary adoption agencies and the adoption support agencies.

Changes to the adoption service in your area

Working regionally will allow children to be placed in a more timely way and improve the adoption and therapeutic support offered as well as enabling us to share best practice and develop our services more effectively. While the names of the agency in your local area will eventually change, the people and ethos remains the same.

Our aim is to continue to provide quality adoption support that meets the needs of those involved in adoption. We will:

  • share good practice across the region;
  • place children for adoption in a more timely way;
  • recruit families for the children who are waiting;
  • share across the region the range and accessibility and quality of adoption support; and
  • provide a timely assessment and approval process for those wanting to adopt.

For more information about One Adoption North and Humber see www.oneadoption.co.uk or telephone 01904 566007.

There are several misconceptions about adoption that can result in people thinking they can't adopt. For example, if you are single you can adopt, which people sometimes assume isn't the case.

What is more important is whether you have the right skills and qualities to help a child feel happy and safe. Please see the information below to see if you are eligible to apply to adopt.

Age

By law, as long as you are over 21 you can adopt. We don't have a fixed upper age limited. You just need to be fit, healthy and able to demonstrate a settled home life.

Bereavement of a child

If you've recently experienced the trauma of a lost pregnancy or the bereavement of a child, we recommend that you give yourself time (at least a year) to adjust to the loss before contemplating adoption.

Children

You can adopt if you already have children. We normally recommend that there is at least a two year gap, ideally three, between the age of your youngest child and the child you adopt.

You can also adopt if you do not have any children. Adoption is more a matter of your commitment, stamina and understanding.

Criminal convictions

Having a criminal conviction doesn't necessarily stop you from applying to adopt as much depends on the seriousness of the offence and how long ago the crime was committed.

However, an adult who has an offence of a violent or sexual nature against a child or young person is legally barred from being approved to adopt a child.

Employment situation

You can adopt if you work full time, are unemployed or on a low income. We consider people from every walk of life regardless of working or financial status.

If you work full time, you can still apply to adopt. However, you (or one of you if you're a couple) will usually be expected to take extended time off work, when your child first arrives.

Fertility treatment

We would not normally accept your application if you are currently trying to conceive or are undergoing investigations for fertility treatment. It can also be distressing to experience infertility difficulties. If this is the case, we recommend that you give yourself time (at least a year) to come to terms with this before contemplating adoption.

Health or disability issues

You can still apply to adopt if you have a disability or health problem. Everyone who applies to adopt is asked to undergo a full medical. The Council's adoption medical adviser will take this into account when making their recommendation.

Marital status

You can adopt if you are married, single or living with a partner. The only thing we ask is that if you are in a relationship, it is an established one and you should have been together for at least three years when you enquire about adoption.

Many single adopters have created strong families alone; everyone needs support but not everyone needs a partner. Being a single parent will bring extra demands which you need to consider and assess for yourself. There can also be benefits for some children and we will happily look at all these areas with you.

Owning or renting your home

It does not matter if you own or rent the home you live in, you can still adopt. You do need to show us that you have enough room to care for a child, in a safe and secure environment.

Sexual orientation

You can adopt if you are gay or lesbian. We are only interested in the skills and experience you have to offer, not your sexuality.

Smoking

If you smoke, you can still apply to adopt. However, we are likely show preference to non-smokers, particularly when placing very young children or those with identified health problems.

Where you live

We would only consider an application from outside North Yorkshire if you were able to offer a home to an older child over five years of age; a child with a disability; a child from an ethnic minority group; or if you were thinking of taking three or more children as a sibling group.

If you live outside of the UK, we would not normally accept an application from you in these circumstances.

The process to becoming an adoptive parent is thorough and can be lengthy, depending on how quickly we are able to match you to a suitable child or children.

On 1 July 2013, the government introduced new regulations about the approval process for prospective adopters, to make sure a decision about whether or not a person or couple can adopt is made within six months of receiving their formal registration of Interest to adopt.

The application and approval process involves an intensive training and learning programme for adopters, as well as close working with the adoption social workers to make sure we fully understand your needs and requirements. This will make sure we can make the best possible match with one or more our children waiting for new families.

Here is a timeline of stages and events for adopting a child.

Timings Stage or event
Initial enquiry Call us on 01609 534032 to have an informal chat or email adoption@northyorks.gov.uk for one of our team to phone you back.
Within ten days of initial enquiry We will have two telephone discussions to take your details and get an initial picture of your circumstances. We will give you information about what to expect from adopting and the application process.
Within four weeks of initial enquiry You will be able to attend an information evening to find out more about adopting and to meet the adoption team.
Within a few days of the information evening. We will visit you at home to talk to you in more detail about adopting. At this point, you will submit your registration of interest form to start the formal application process.
Stage one:
Two months from receiving your completed registration of interest form

We will review your registration of interest form and then decide if we can accept your application. If we decide not to accept it, we'll tell you why and advise you on what your options are at this point.

If we accept your application to proceed with the process, we will allocate a social worker to you, who will be with you every step of the way to becoming a new family.

At this point, we will ask you to visit our offices to sign an agreement about how we will progress your application and discuss your personal training, learning and workshop programme.

Disclosure and barring service (formerly known as CRB), medical and other local authority checks are carried out. We will also start contacting your references during stage one.

Stage two:
Four months from completion of stage one.

During stage two, we agree further home visits and your ongoing training, learning and workshop programme. This will be formalised with another signed agreement.

We may start to discuss some specific children's needs with you at this point.

Towards the end of your training programme, we will write an assessment report for the adoption panel. This report will be shared with you at least five days before the panel's assessment and you will be given the chance to contribute your own comments.

The adoption panel will consider your application and will make their recommendation to the adoption service, who will make a final decision about your application.

Your social worker will start the matching process with you.

Variable You discuss children waiting for a family with your adoption social worker and we propose a choice to the panel for agreement.
One to two months You prepare for a life together through planning and introductions before your child arrives.
Three months or more When you and your child have settled in together, after a minimum of ten weeks you can apply for an adoption order. You will have lots of advice and support in reaching this decision.

After adoption, the support that you receive from the adoption service can continue for as long as you need.

Early permanence placements are for a small number of children who may not be able to be safely cared for by their birth parents, who need a short period of time in local authority care, and who are likely to need to be adopted, but still have a chance of being reunited with their birth family.

The mainstream or traditional route to adoption can be an unsettling and disruptive time for young babies and children. Early permanence placements can prevent the number of moves that these very young children can experience at a crucial stage in their development and growth.

In early permanence the child, often (but not always) a baby, is placed with an approved adopter who can foster the child while assessments of the birth family and court proceedings are ongoing.

The prospective adopter will the provide the child with a short-term fostering placement and will then go on to adopt the child if the court agrees the adoption plan for the child and makes the relevant legal order.
 
Early permanence allows the prospective adopter(s) the opportunity to parent a baby or very young child, sometimes from birth or soon after, to allow them to be a part of the child's life from the beginning and also be involved in the key stages of a child's early development.

You will be first be known as an early permanence placement carer. You will also be willing to be approved as an adopter and then a temporary foster carer for the first phase of the placement when care/court proceedings and assessments of birth family are ongoing. As an early permanence placement carer you should primarily want to adopt a child and be prepared to return the child to their birth family if the court decides that is the best plan for the child's future.

Important points to consider

The child will be placed to live with the carers as early as possible often from birth so he/she will be able to experience stability from a much earlier age. The child will also be able to form secure relationships and attachments without disruption and frightening moves of placement even though uncertainty regarding their long-term placement remains and is being considered by the courts. It provides consistency for the child and avoids delays for their future, whether that is to remain with their early permanency carer or to return to their birth family.

For a number of these children the court will decide that a return to their birth family is not possible. If that is the decision the child will remain with the carers and will be adopted by them. The carers will have the advantage of having cared for the child from a very young age. They may have also been in a special position where they have met the birth parents, possibly also through contact.

However, if the court decides that the birth parents or other members of the birth family are able to meet the needs of the child, the carers will be involved in helping the child to return to their birth family. While this would of course be very sad and upsetting for you, you will have enough emotional resilience to take solace from the fact that you have given the child the love and security that they needed at a difficult time in their lives, as well as being a key support in helping them settle back with their family. The carers will then continue to receive support from us to help them decide what they want to do next.

What this means for adoptive parents

In order to help you achieve becoming an early permanence placement carer you will receive mainstream preparation training and specialised early permanence training. Your adoption assessment will concentrate very much on your motivation, resilience, support networks and ability to manage this specialised task. The decision as to whether this is the right choice for you will be a two-way process that will be visited throughout your adoption journey.

Following your approval and placement of a child you will receive intensive support from your social worker and the child's social worker. This will involve a lot of social work visits as well as visits from other professionals. You will be entitled to a fostering allowance until the child's placement becomes and adoptive one or returned to the birth family. You will also need to attend several meetings about the child and his/her current and future care.

It is possible that you will be involved in taking the child for contact while decisions about the child's future are being made. You will need to work co-operatively with the child's family and the other professionals involved with the child during this time.

You would need to be able to take time off work, be able to put the child's needs first, be emotionally resilient, live with and manage the uncertainty and challenges within this planning and prepared to work with the child's birth parents.

Quotes from carers

Why early permanency

"We decided to be early permanence carers because we wanted the chance to be part of the baby's life from as early as possible. We knew the risks and that we may not be able to keep her but we felt it was worth it."

Process

"It has been an amazing process but not an easy one."

"We're helping to get the best outcome for the child."

Meeting birth parents

"We got to meet the birth parents before she was born and while it was a bit awkward for us all we liked them and could see they really wanted to keep the baby."

"We're glad we met them as she needs to know there are other people out there later in her life."

The only way we could manage at first was to think that the baby was theirs and we were looking after her for them. It was hard though because we really loved her and got attached to her. But that was the point of her being with us, so she could feel safe and loved and could build attachments.

It was harder to live with the risk than we thought as we were at the mercy of the court's decision. By this time we loved her dearly and would have been devastated if she had gone back to birth parents. However we really felt for them as well as they tried hard. Whatever the outcome from the courts, one of us would suffer a great loss.

In the end she stayed with us and her parents had to say goodbye to her. It was very sad and we had a lot of mixed emotions of feeling glad she was with us but seeing them so upset was hard.

The good thing for us is that we got to know her parents. We can tell her all about them when she is growing up, who she looks like, what they are interested in and how much they loved and tried all they could to keep her. We feel that this will be more beneficial to her (and us) than if we had gone through mainstream adoption. She will grow up to know where she comes from and that two sets of people really loved and wanted her.

We are coming back a second time for another placement through early permanency so for us it was worth the risk and it hasn't prevented us from coming back again."