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Most adopters will be assessed by social workers, approved at Adoption Panel and then matched with a child to adopt.

Once matched the adopter will meet the child or children several times before they move into the adopters’ home and usually around six months later the child(ren) are legally adopted through the Court.

The children have usually lived with one, two or more foster carers before they meet their adopters and move in to live with them. Most children can adjust well but moves are not easy for children and we try to move children as little as possible. To try to better meet the needs of children there are two new routes to adoption, detailed below, which allow children to stay in one placement and live with a family who have the potential to become their adoptive parents at a much earlier stage.

Fostering for Adoption

Fostering for Adoption places a child with a family who have been approved as adopters and who are given temporarily approval as foster carers for a specific child. The plan for the child will probably be adoption and the court will decide if this is the right plan for the child.

The benefits for the child are that they will live with their likely adopters at a young age and they will be able to form attachments with their family. In a Fostering for Adoption placement more of the child’s early months or years will be spent with a family committed to becoming the adoptive parents, and if adoption is the outcome, there will be shared memories from an earlier stage.

Initially you will be a foster carer and you will need to be able to work with social workers to best meet the needs of the child, this may include arrangements for the child to have contact with parents or relatives. It is very likely that you will go on to adopt the child but you will have to deal with the uncertainty of this outcome. You will need to be emotionally strong, able to cope with the uncertainty and have a strong support network around you.

‘Baby comes first’ Somerset’s Concurrent Planning Scheme

Concurrent planning is a way of caring for babies and young children, who are under two years old, in care and where adoption has already been identified as a possible, but not certain outcome. They are young children where there is still a chance that they may be reunited with their birth family. The plan for the child will possibly be adoption.

Concurrent carers are approved as foster carers and as adopters, they foster very young children while the Court decides their future. Sometimes these are babies placed straight from hospital. While the child is being fostered by the concurrent carers there will be arrangements for regular contact between child and birth parents. These sessions are supported by a contact supervisor, but concurrent carers are asked to take the child to the sessions and to support the birth family’s efforts to regain the care for their child.

The needs of very young children are at the heart of concurrent planning and there are huge benefits for the child. The child has more stability in the early weeks and months, is less exposed to the upset and loss of moves, and, if the outcome is adoption, they will have bonded with their new carers from a very early age.

The idea behind concurrent planning is that it’s better that the adults are asked to cope with uncertainty and the possibility of loss so that the baby can enjoy more stability and security.

This route to adoption is not for everyone but it can be a very rewarding and fulfilling. You need to be emotionally strong, with a good support network around you, and you need to be able to appreciate the importance of a child being able to grow up within their family of birth (if that is possible) and appreciate the benefits of concurrent planning for the child and always put the child first.