I had a list… a big list… a list that I sat and read through over and over. Where would we start?” It was May 2014 and I was coming up to the month that we agreed we would start researching the adoption process. I always wanted children and my partner had never really thought about it. We had discussion after discussion about it for years until finally, he agreed that we should start the process… but only at an agreed time! We had a lot to do personally before we started the process, like getting the business up and running, finishing the renovations and travel together more, so we wanted to give ourselves some time and breathing space before we embarked on the journey. We agreed June 2014. I was impatient – so I started calling in May!
I had a pretty big list to work through which included a 50:50 mix between local authorities and voluntary agencies. We had no idea what the difference was really so we figured we would call them all. We had 4 local authorities in the surrounding area whom we were potentially eligible to work with and there were approximately 4 voluntary agencies which I deemed to be reputable.
Based on our experience, I compiled 5 tips to help choose the right adoption agency:
- Consider a range of options – I would suggest speaking to both voluntary agencies and local authorities to get a good understanding of the difference and see who you get the best feel from. First4Adoption is a dedicated adoption information service for people looking to adopt in England (First 4 Adoption) and should be the first point of call to help define that list
- Ask as many questions as possible (even the ones you feel uncomfortable asking) – Our biggest concern was working with an agency that supported same sex adoption and had successfully placed children with same sex families in the past. We started out looking at New Family Social (newfamilysocial ) to identify an agency from their list (Surprisingly we went with an agency who was not on their list yet but joined quite soon after and are now a huge promoter of the site). Our agency, Adoption Matters (Adoption Matters) is linked to the Christian church and are partnered with another agency linked to the catholic church and one that had strong religious roots which was initially our biggest concern. I had personally had a difficult time with the church when I was younger, so I asked outright how religious the organisation was and how this impacts on the day to day work of the Social Workers and their values. Although we understand same sex adoption is legal in the UK and an agency would be breaking the law by turning us away due to our relationship, we were more interested in the Social Workers personal point of view. Of course, they would never openly share this while in a professional role but by asking the right questions, we were able to gauge their responses. As much as I didn’t expect to come across any prejudice, in our journey, I was met with one small religious agency who I felt was less than impressed at the thought of taking on same sex male adopters but this is extremely extremely rare!
- Build a relationship – I had such a good experience with the first Social Worker who I spoke with on the phone at our agency that we were insistent that we had that same Social Worker if we were selected to progress. This is not always possible given the reach that some of the agencies have and the heavy caseloads however if you build that bond with that particular Social Worker, it cannot hurt to ask! We were lucky that we had the same person right from the first call. We did however meet with the Adoption Administrator who came out to our house on the first couple of visits and she reaffirmed our confidence in choosing the agency we chose. Where possible, ask to work with the person you feel most confident with but if possible, meet others in the organisation to reaffirm your choice
- Be Honest – There is no gain by not being honest at all stages of the process. It may be difficult to disclose, however it will end up being more difficult down the track if the truth comes out and you did not disclose it. Don’t be afraid to be honest, as you can be pretty confident that the Social Workers will have dealt with that or worse before and they will deal with it completely professionally at all times.
- Do your research – Do your internet research about each agency or local authority and speak to others who have used their services. Check OFSTED. Don’t judge an agency solely by its marketing or its website as agencies are in the business of finding forever families for children. Smaller agencies may not have the resources to manage huge marketing budgets but it doesn’t mean they aren’t excellent. Word of mouth is by far the best indicator of a service. Ask on twitter, ask on facebook, follow blogs, ask around your local area, ask to speak to the services successful adopters before you commit! It is a partnership that is likely to last a lifetime even post adoption, so do your research and you can feel confident in your choice
If you need any further information about choosing the right adoption agency for you, feel free to get in touch or alternatively a few websites below could help: