Member log in

Forgot your password? | Not a member? Join now

A Panel of your peers, assesses your suitability to adopt

The final part of the Home Study is the Panel. This is where 10-16 professionals or lay members who have an interest in adoption, assess you as a suitable prospective parents.

The Panel is one of the most important stages in the adoption process. It is here where your case is assessed and a decision is made that   determines if you can go ahead with your adoption or not. 

The Panel date comes after your Home Study report is complete and your adoption agency feels that you are ready to go to Panel.

You may be given the date of your panel sometime during your Home Study or only once it is completed.


More and more local authorities are adopting a 'care plan' , where they schedule the stages of your adoptive process and work towards hitting these targets. This is ideal, as it gives you a framework to work within and an idea of where you are in your process.


Depending on your local authority or voluntary adoption agency,  adoption panels may sit monthly or on a ad hoc basis. Essentially they are planned to review several cases on the same day to 'reduce costs'. 


Ideally, you will want to schedule the panel date, as it will give you a rough idea of timings and avoid the 'floating' of the panel where your date gets shifted from one month to the next for the convienience of the paid panel members.


It is not compulsory for you to attend the Panel and you are not under any obligation, but it is advised, as it is felt it is an important  opportunity for you to be as fully involved as possible in the adoption process. The purpose of the meeting is to provide an opportuntiy for both the panel and the prospective adopters to discuss and clarify the reasons for wishing to adopt, and any other matter relevant to the application. They will be assessing your strengths and weaknesses and your adoptive capacity. Apparently, the decision-making process with regard to your application to adopt will not be affected whether you attend Adoption Panel or not.


My Panel Experience

My social worker advised me to go to panel, however I was given no preparation and did not know what to expect. 'You'll be fine' was all I was told. This is not how it is supposed to be - the agency should have provided me with advice about the panel meeting, who will be present and what each of their individual roles in the panel are. I should have been given a description of the meeting and advice about the process and its aims.  I was  shocked to walk into the room and find no less that 12 people all sitting around the table facing me. I cannot remember the exact number of people, or who they were  as I was so nervous and felt so incredibly vulnerable.


And then the 'interrogation' began and yes, that is how it felt to me, an interrogation.  In all fairness, everyone did briefly  introduce themselves and there were a few open smiles but there was also open hostility. One person in particular, a large man, sat back in his chair and crossed his arms the minute I walked into the room with a challenging smirk across his face.  I was totally astounded to discover that every one of these people had read the Home Study Report and they started firing questions at me about things which I naively had thought, were between the social workers and myself. 15 strangers from all kinds of professions, who I'd never met before and never knew were going to be there, and whose names were not written down (any reason that their identities were withheld) were holding my future in their hands.  Remember, you know nothing about these people and they know EVERYTHING about you.


So from the right comes someone relating an embarrassing incident which you should not have mentioned in the first place. So in front of all the 'witnesses' you have to defend an action you did so many years ago and quite frankly has no relevance to anything.  Terrible.


Then they ask you all these questions about how you are going to bring up and look after your child in every circumstance, when you haven't even thought about it because you are holding your emotions close to your chest just in case you don't pass the panel. It really is a very, very tricky scenario!


Once a case has been referred to the panel, the panel must consider the case and make a recommendation to the agency as to whether the prospective adopter is suitable to adopt a child. They will take the information contained in the Home study report, which they should have read before the panel date, and will be asking you questions to fill in the gaps of the report. Their concern is the 'proper regard to the stability and permanence of the relationship of any couple whose case is referred'. And, I assume in the case of single parents, the support and stability of their network. The panel recommendations are passed onto the Agency Decison Maker who has the final say in approving potential adopters or not. 


I did feel like I was the fox let loose among the hounds and after approximately 25 minutes of this horrific attack on my person (which to add insult to injury, I had paid for), I was asked to leave while they discussed my case.  I cannot express how agonizing that wait was. On my own, so much time, energy and money invested , so much at stake, and my future lying in the hands of those 15 strangers. At no time did I feel that any one of them wanted me to adopt. I cannot understand the animosity towards me, or the need for it.  Of course, one can understand the safeguarding of the child, but the tearing apart of the of the parent? I know not what purpose that served - cruel and unnecessary.


After an agonizing half an hour wait, the social worker comes to tell you if you have passed the panel or not.  In my case the head of adoption services came to deliver the verdict. She did not feel the need to take us to a quiet spot even thought there were a couple of issues she wanted to discuss - no the panel's decision and their concern were debated whilst standing in the public corridor of the civic hall - such respect for inter country adopters.


Your adoption agency and your social worker should not take you to panel unless they feel that you are totally ready, they have supplied all the necessary information and that your case is complete. It is not possible for the panel to make a recommendation if they do not have all the information to access the facts. You do not want to be in a situation where the Panel rejects you because the report is not complete.


Marie and Pierre had abandoned their adoption dreams because they believed that they had failed panel. Somewhere in their mind, they had the idea that because they had not taught their 5-year-old birth son the language of their potential adopted son's country, they were refused permission to adopt. Several years later, the desire to adopt had not diminished, so they picked up their case again. Only to find out that they had not in fact failed, the language issue was something that the panel wanted clarifying and had asked the agency to provide more supportive information. This was not communicated correctly to the potential adoptive parents and the case went into limbo. They now have to start the home study process again as too much time has lapsed.


Because the Home Study has been conducted with a particular sex, age and country of origin details of the child, the Panel will take those factors into consideration when assessing the suitability of the adopters. If they have some reservations i.e. the choice to adopt siblings at the same time, this will come up and reported back to the Agency Decision Maker. 


If they are happy with you and they approve you to adopt, it will be for the child that you have stipulated in your Home Study.  If for any reason you have to change any of these conditions, i.e. a country closes or you are offered a girl when approved for a boy, you may have to return to Panel again with the changes and they will have to assess you again.


Join today graphic

Adoption News

Why UK has low Inter country adoption numbers

Published - Mar 23, 2017

Nepal to begin process to ratify Hague Convention

Published - Mar 14, 2017