Adoption Process

Western Bay Adoption Services
  • The adoption process – what does it involve?

    From the moment you first consider adopting you have already begun the adoption process and discovering whether it is definitely right for you.

    The journey is made with social workers and staff, whose job it is to make sure you are the best possible parents for the children in need of a forever family.

    How long does it take?

    Once you make the important and life-changing decision to adopt, it’s understandable that you will want the process to be as quick as possible. Waiting for something you really want is extremely hard and frustrating. However, this isn’t something that we can rush. We need to ensure that adoption is completely right for you and importantly, that we correctly match children with suitable families.

    Western Bay Adoption is proud of its reputation in assessing and approving the majority of prospective adopters within five to eight months from application, engaging with them on a continual basis.

    It is impossible to be absolutely definite about the timing of the whole process for a number of reasons. Some things are out of the adoption service’s control, as they have to be completed by others. Also, some assessments take longer than others because of the issues that are raised.

  • Are there any costs involved in adoption?

    Applicants are expected to pay the cost of their medical examination, this is usually around £150. When an application is made to the court for an adoption order to be made, adopters are expected to pay the costs incurred in making the application (£170). If there is to be a contested adoption the agency will discuss with the applicants how the legal costs will be met. For applicants wishing to adopt from overseas, there may be additional costs.

  • Enquiry

    The first part of your journey is to find out more about adoption. Reach out to us via the contact page above where we will be more than happy to have a chat and answer any questions you may have. Download one of our Information Packs from this website and at the back you will find our Enquiry Form. Once you have sent this form back to us we will aim to get the ball rolling if we can and look to arrange your Initial Visit. 


  • Initial Visit

    Following your first enquiry to us you will be allocated a social worker who will contact you to arrange to meet (either online/virtually, or in a way that works for you – depending on the coronavirus restrictions that may be in place.) During this meeting the social worker will take some details from you in relation to your own personal circumstances to enable us to consider whether you are ready to continue to the next stage of the adoption process. You can also ask the social worker any questions you may have.

    The social worker will discuss your details with an adoption manager and a decision will be reached if it is appropriate to proceed at this time. You will also need to reflect on whether the time is right for you. This is such an incredibly important commitment that we want to make sure you are in the right place and that you feel ready to begin your adoption journey.

  • Information Events

    Following your initial visit you will then be invited to an informal information event – ‘Introduction to Adoption’. These will run on a regular monthly basis. Here you will meet  our social workers who will talk to you about the adoption process and answer any questions you may have. You will also learn more about the children who need to be placed for adoption, the adoption journey and the support that is available for you. You will also get the chance to view our new adopter training videos which feature our adopters and staff talking about important topics such as direct contact with birth parents and post adoption depression.

    At the end of this event you will be provided with your Registration of Interest form.


    Please read though our detailed Information Pack.  At the back is our Enquiry Form.   If you wish to be contacted by us and have a visit to begin the process, please fill in the Enquiry Form and send it to us or make a call to us. Alternatively, complete the enquiry page giving your details and we will contact you as soon as possible.

  • Stage 1

    This stage of the process takes around 2 months to complete. (This can vary if there is a delay in obtaining certain checks/information – we will write to you if this is the case to ensure you are fully aware should there be any possible delay). At the beginning of this stage you will meet with your social worker and together we will complete and agree your ‘Stage 1 Plan’.

    Western Bay will begin to obtain references and undertake necessary checks.

    These include:

    • A criminal background check with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). This will show any previous criminal convictions and if you have been barredfrom working with children.
    •  Local Authority checks.
    • GP details – you will need to pay for your medical.
    •  Employer’s reference (if you work with children or vulnerable adults).
    •  Ex-partner checks (particularly if there were children as part of this relationship).
    • Personal referees who will be asked to provide a written reference and your social worker will also ask to meet.
    • School checks if you have children of school age.

    There can be additional checks that we may request depending on your circumstances.  This sounds like a long list but please try not to worry – everyone needs to have checks undertaken. Sometimes people have some concerns about different aspects of their lives both presently and historically. Talk to your social worker about any worries you may have as they will be keen to support and advise you.


    During Stage 1 you will also be expected to start your preparation work. This will include:

    • Your own reading and research.
    • Attending our 3 day Preparation Training course.
    • Compiling your own personal information workbook.

    Throughout stage one of the process you will have the support of an adoption social worker who will be on hand to advise you and answer any queries as and when they may arise. At the end of Stage 1 we will write to you outlining that, having received all of the information from you and from the checks needed, we consider you may be able to adopt.

    If there are any reasons why we are not able to consider you as eligible to adopt during the course of Stage one you will be notified in writing with the reasons clearly explained.

  • Stage 2- The Assessment

    This stage of the process involves an assessment of your suitability to adopt and takes around 4 months. It is during this stage that you will meet regularly with your social worker who will need to get to know you, gather further information about you as well as to support you in any further training or preparation.

    This is an opportunity for you to learn a lot more about adoption and to develop your understanding of the needs of children who may be placed with you. Your social worker will signpost you to any support groups we may be running which may be of interest to you or suggest some online training courses you can take – many of which are free.

    It will be an expectation of the service that you complete our rolling programme of training that will enhance your understanding of adoptive parenting and the needs of adopted children.
    Your social worker will complete your Prospective Adopters Report and will also make contact with your referees during this stage.

    We aim to complete this part of your assessment within 4 months. You will be provided with the finished assessment to read. The checks that we undertake, including references, remain confidential to the adoption team. At the end of stage 2, your social worker will present you and your report to an adoption panel.

  • Panel

    The adoption panel recommends whether your application should be approved or declined. The panel is made up of professionals, including social workers and medical and educational professionals as well as adoptive parents and/or adopted people. There is also a chairperson, a minute taker and a panel advisor. You are invited to attend with your social worker. The panel will have read your Prospective Adopters Report and may have some questions to ask you and your social worker on the day. Your social worker will have spent time talking to you about panel and what to expect and will be there to support you throughout.

    If the panel recommends your approval as an adopter the final decision will be made shortly after by the Agency Decision Maker. You will then receive a letter confirming your approval as adopter/s.

  • Finding a Family and Matching

    Once you have been approved to adopt your social worker will start working with our Family Finding Adoption Team to identify children whose needs you could meet. You will also be referred to the Adoption Register for Wales and/or you may choose to respond to a child/ren featured in Linkmaker. Again, your social worker will be there to support you and work closely with you throughout and beyond adoption.

    During the course of your assessment your social worker will have got to know you really well. The purpose of your assessment visits aren’t just to gather lots of information about you
    but to help your social worker to form an understanding of your own particular skills and abilities and in doing so, ensure that you are matched with a child or children whose needs you
    can meet. Following approval there will likely be a wait whilst your social worker explores any potential matches. We know that this can be a challenging time and often adopters tell us that they feel as if they are in limbo.

    Waiting for the phone to ring to be told of a potential match can feel like an eternity even though it could be just a matter of weeks! It’s not possible to ever predict how long this part of your adoption journey may take. You can use this time to continue to read, listen to podcasts and/or attend our support groups. Once a match has been identified for you, your social worker will meet with you to share information about the child/ren, their background and birth family. You will also have a visit from the child’s social worker to share further information about the child’s personality, likes, dislikes and also information about any health or genetic factors you will need to consider.

    If you are the right match for a child or children, you will be invited to meet with:

    • The child’s foster carer.
    • The child’s local authority medical adviser.
    •  Other professionals (this is decided on a case-by-case basis, but may include: nursery teachers, schoolteachers, or any other professional involved in the child’s life).

    Once a match is approved, introductions can begin. Introductions are where you will finally get to meet the child in person. The aim of introductions is to help the child move from their foster carer to your home. Introductions can vary in length depending on the age and needs of each child.  They usually involve you observing the child in the foster carer’s home and
    gradually taking on the parenting of your child.

    Your social worker and your child’s social worker will support you through introductions. There is usually a review halfway through and the child or children will move to you when everyone agrees the child is ready.


  • Post Placement and Adoption Support

    During this time, your child/ren and yourselves will be visited and supported by your Social Worker and the child’s Social Worker. There will be regular visits to your home and the placement will be reviewed in accordance with the Adoption Regulations, to make sure that all is well and that your child’s needs and those of the family are being met.

    The Courts will not consider an Adoption application until the child/ren has lived with you for 10 weeks. Often it is considerably longer as everyone needs to feel that they are ready, that the child has settled and that everyone has made the move to becoming a family. Once an application to adopt has been lodged in the court, the court process begins. You will be kept informed of the progress each step of the way.

    You won’t attend court as the social workers involved will be doing so. Courts can sometimes take a few months to grant an Adoption Order. Once this is done, you legally become your child’s parent and guardian. You will receive an adoption certificate directly from the court which shows the child’s new surname and replaces their birth certificate. An Adoption Order is irrevocable, and a child has the same legal rights as any birth child.  You and your child will be given the opportunity to attend a Celebration Hearing following the Final Hearing. This celebration at court can be attended by other family and friends, and gives you all the chance to celebrate your new family.

    Our Post Adoption Team are all skilled at supporting families and children who are experiencing difficulties or need guidance and advice. We recognise this is likely and completely normal too!

    Some of the support you will be able to access includes:

    • Assessments of adoption support needs.
    • Therapeutic Parenting courses – these run regularly and are aimed and adopters who have had children placed recently (within 12 months).
    • Direct work with children.
    • Play Therapy.
    • Support groups and workshops (currently virtually).
    • 1 to 1 parenting support.
    • Life Story Work – support and advice in telling and talking about adoption and sharing your child’s life journey materials.
    • Playgroups.
    • Letterbox – we have a letterbox team who are on hand to advise and support you in all matters relating to Letterbox contact.
    • Birth Parent Support.


  • Interested in adoption? We'd love to hear from you!