Wednesday, December 02, 2009

INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTION PROCESS IN THE UK

In the UK we don't have adoption agencies.

Home studies are undertaken by our local authorities (part of local government) or by separate organisations if LAs are too busy (AKA disinterested). Domestic home studies are free but for IA there is a 4 figure charge, they're not supposed to profit from undertaking HS for IA but that's a whole 'nother story!

A SW visits (up to 10-12 times depending on the complexity of the family situation), every SW works differently, for me the visits were fortnightly and she'd tell me what we'd discuss at the next meeting and usually ask me to prepare some paperwork in advance that we'd talk through at the next meeting. After all the visits the HS took about a month to edit, then I had a chance to read through and correct any inaccuracies, about a month after that I went to Panel.

Panel is a group of interested parties - a medical representative, a SW to consider the interests of the child, a couple of local councillors, several people who've had experience of adoption (been adopted or have adopted) - usually about 8-10 people. They read the HS in advance, discuss it, interview the applicant(s) and their SW, more discussion and then decide if the applicant(s) are suitable and the chair of Panel shares their decision after you've waited nervously outside.

After Panel comes the country specific paper chase for loads of paper evidence such as detailed financial statements (having done a simpler version for Panel), birth certificates, more medicals and sometimes statements from guardians or friends in support of the application. Then all of this is sent to central government to check and when they're happy they issue a Certificate of Eligibility, the dossier goes off to a Notary Public, back to gov, off to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (another gov depm), receiving country's embassy, back to gov to send to receiving country. This stage (from sending to government to them sending them abroad) can take 6 months.

In the UK we have no agencies, no one other than government officials, to intercede on our behalf, because we have no agencies we have no access to the new Special Needs computerised system that China run, so currently no one can adopt a SN child from China into the UK. Prospective adoptive parents want to change this and are petitioning the government to show the demand for change. Don't panic at the term Special Needs - it doesn't mean the same in the context of China adoption as it does in the UK. There are children available for adoption with significant special needs such as cerebral palsy, autism, spina bifida, however there are many other children with medically treatable or manageable conditions such as cleft lip and palate, club feet, heart murmurs, limb differences, even birth marks.

If you are a British citizen or resident in the UK and feel you could support this option - allowing those who wish to adopt a SN child from China, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE sign the petition to 10 Downing Street here.

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