What is Fostering to Adopt?
Fostering to Adopt was a Government plan to prevent delay for babies being placed with Adoptive families. These babies are usually still in Care Proceedings, and so there is a possibility that the court may conclude they need to return to birth family. However Fostering to Adopt prevents unnecessary moves in and out of foster care for the child as they are placed with new permanent families sooner in the process, and having consistent care for the child reduces possible future harm and it supports the child in developing healthy attachments.
What is the Process?
- During the course of the adoption assessment, adopters will consider whether they think that Fostering to Adopt is a process they would be able to consider. It isn’t right for everyone, so it’s important that all aspects of what the impact could be are explored fully and realistically.
- When the local authority decide that a child’s situation warrants a Fostering to Adopt placement, all available adopters willing to have a child placed under these regulations will be considered and one selected as Fostering to Adopt carers.
- The child’s Placing Social Worker will then visit to discuss the child.
- Prospective Fostering to Adopt carers will then be given as much information as possible about the child and it’s birth family (although some of this may be restricted by court) and will make a decision about whether to proceed.
- Placements under these regulations can happen at very short notice – often within a matter of days.
- If it is agreed to go ahead, the prospective Fostering to Adopt carers are then approved by the Local Authority for the child as temporary foster carers, in order to legally care for the child and provide for its ongoing needs.
- Whilst the Care Proceedings are concluding, the child’s Social Worker be continuing to work with members of the birth family.
- There will be an agreed contact plan for the child to see birth relatives – normally this should be no more than three times a week, but the court can direct it to be more. Fostering to Adopt carers participate in the arrangements for contact, but rarely meet the birth family face to face during this time.
- The child remains under the temporary Fostering regulations until the Court makes a final decision on whether to grant a Placement Order or whether to return the child to birth family members.
Contact with Birth Family
During the Fostering to Adopt placement contact with birth parents will be maintained and is likely to be a minimum of three times per week, but can be as much as 7 times a week if the court directs it.
When it becomes an Adoption Placement, contact with birth family will stop, the timing and nature of Social Worker visits will change, and there will be a timescale for the applying to court for the final Adoption Order.
Why Foster to Adopt?
- The child only goes to one set of carers after birth family. No changes of placement, and child is with their new permanent family from very early on.
- Adopters get a very young child placed with them – sometimes days old. Creates an opportunity for early bonding with the baby.
- Normally adopters have to wait 10 weeks after an Adoption Placement is made before applying for an Adoption Order – this 10 week timescale starts from the point of the F2A placement is made, so shortens the length of time post Care Proceedings concluding that adopters can apply for the final order.
- Sometimes there is limited information available to Foster to Adopt carers at the point of placement – this may be due to court directives or confidentiality issues. There is a slight risk that at the point of Placement Order, when full detailed information becomes available, that Fostering to Adopt carers may feel they cannot proceed to adoption.
- Some adopters have found that the period of caring for the baby under the fostering regulations is stressful, as they are waiting for the care proceedings to be concluded and do not know if the baby will go back to birth family. Other adopters have been able to “switch” into fostering mode and not think about the longer term plan until the placement becomes an adoption one.
- Managing a high level of contact for the baby is very tiring for all concerned and can create high anxiety and emotion for the adopters.
- Having a baby at such a young age may mean that the effects of any drug/alcohol misuse by birth mother, or early stage neglect will not necessarily be evident yet.
- The placement is subject to the fostering regulations, and F2A carers are considered as foster carers so can be instructed to do certain things by the court (e.g. contact plan changes, feeding baby certain foods the birth mother has requested etc.)
- Adopters have to feel that if the baby returns to birth family it is a positive thing for the baby. Adopters essentially takes the risk on behalf of the baby.
- Adopters who already have a birth or adopted child within the family may feel that the emotional impact on that child of a baby moving back to birth family is too high.
- Financially F2A carers at the point of placement are entitled to Adoption Leave, Fostering Allowance and Child Benefit, but may need to leave work earlier than planned in order to facilitate an immediate placement.
As a Specialist Adoption Agency, Families for Children do not “place” their own children, but we have children from across the UK placed with our Adopters. This will mean that there will be a wide variety of Fostering to Adopt experiences to deal with, and we will aim to support you in this process by ensuring that the Local Authorities processes are as robust as they can be, and that you get as much information as you need and are entitled to.