“Adoption is the legal process by which a child or group of siblings who cannot be brought up within their birth family become full, permanent, and legal members of their new family.”
Once the adoptive process is complete, adopters become the child’s legal parents with the same rights and responsibilities as if the child was born to them.
Through adoption you can offer a new start to children and young people. It is a big decision that will change lives forever, but offering a child a safe and loving home can be very rewarding. All children and young people need stability and constant support, even more so when they have been adopted. There is also plenty of support available to adoptive parents too.
As adoptive parents you will be offered training throughout and after the adoption process, some of the children and young people have undergone trauma or loss of a loved one, and this can have an impact on their lives. By accessing the training available you can make sure you know how to support these children and young people.
The Adoptive Process
In order to become a legal guardian by adoption, there must be preparation and assessment by social workers trained in adoption work, a recommendation by an Adoption Panel, and the final decision made by the Agency Decision Maker.
The matching of potential parents with adoptive children is carried out by an Adoption Panel. Adoption is a big commitment, and so it requires careful consideration and planning. If you are thinking about adopting, then you must consider the impact it will have on you, as well as your wider family and friends.
The first thing to do is contact Adoption and Foster Care Northern Ireland who will guide you through the process, from enquiry to application. Through this service you can also access all the training and support you will need from beginning to end, when hopefully, you will be able to offer a child a happy, safe home.
If adoption is something you would like to consider, here are our top tips.
- Gain child care experience
First-hand experience of looking after children is vitally important, and if possible this should go beyond family and friends, to include nurseries or children’s groups.
- Don’t feel pressured by deadlines
Understand that the child’s needs have to come first. You should only go ahead once you are certain you are ready and at a pace that suits you both.
- Make your relationship a priority
If you are adopting a child or children with a partner then think about how strong your relationship is, and how well you communicate with each other. You must be able to listen to one another and offer support, as it is likely that you will both be feeling different things throughout the process.
- Be honest
Talk openly about how you are feeling with the people around you, the workers you meet and any other adoptive parents you meet. Honesty in adoption is seen as a strength, so share your concerns with others.
- Try not to raise expectations
Every adoption journey is unique, one person’s experience will not be identical to your own, one approach will not fit all. The process may take a lot longer than you imagined, so you need to be realistic.
- Be fair to your support network
Understand that those around you are almost adopting with you, be clear with them about what role you will want them to play. The stronger and wider your support network is, the greater your resourcefulness as a parent will be. There are regional support groups available throughout Northern Ireland, so be sure to reach out to those who have been though a similar situation.
- Dealing with uncertainty
There will only be so much information available to you, and there are no guarantees when it comes to raising children, adoptive or not. The younger the child is, the more uncertainty there can be.
- Give it time
You should be proactive in finding a way to deal with any challenges you are facing. However, some things just need a little time to be allowed to fall into place or find their own balance. The team of professionals at Adoption and Foster Care Northern Ireland will help to guide you through the process. Once you are ready, H McPartland and Sons in Lurgan and Lisburn can help you too. We treat every care with care and sensitivity, it is a complex area of the law, so allow us to navigate it for you.