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What the social worker establishes on first meeting

Homestudies are not automatically begun on request. Several adoption agencies will want to meet you for an initial consultation, before they start the official Homestudy. This is to ascertain that there is no pressing reason why they cannot begin a Homestudy.


Different Local Authorities operate in different ways:

  • Some will want to do an initial meeting with you before they accept you to do a Homestudy.
  • Others will advise you that you must first do the 3 day preparation course and they will make a plan for that.
  • Some will take you name and number promising that they will send you an information pack.
  • Others will arrange there and then to begin a Homestudy.


There is no fixed pattern. Each Local Authority or Adoption Agency works according to their own programme.


In my experience, my social services said that they would send me an information pack,  which they never did. I called again and was told that someone would call me back, which never happened.  In the end I had to challenge them on their incompetence, before they said they would start the Homestudy in a couple of weeks time. Which they did.


Most Local Authorities now will arrange an initial consultation, to ascertain if there are any over-riding reasons why they should not begin the Homestudy process. In this first meeting, they will try to establish if you are ready for the adoption process and if , after assessment, you are likely to be approved as potential adoptive parents.


The two main things that they will look out for at this initial consultation are:


  • If you are healthy and not suffering from any debilitating or chronic conditions which means that you will not see a child into adulthood.
  • That you do not have any criminal record in connection with children.

Both these are conditions that will restrict your application.


Other things that they will look at are:


Major personal event

Social services are looking for the fact that you have come to terms with any event, accepted it and moved on.  It is no longer an issue in your life and it has become absorbed into everyday events. The idea behind this, is that your adopted child will have demands, and it is important that you are able to meet your child's demands, without putting them second to the issues with which you are dealing. You will need to have all your wits about you to pay attention to the needs of your child, and anything that takes your attention away from him or her, will be scrutinized by the social services.




There may be pragmatic reasons why the social worker will defer beginning the Homestudy.  Conventional wisdom dictates that there must be at least 6 months after any 'loss', before you begin the Homestudy.  'Loss' could mean the failure of the last IVF attempt, miscarriage, death in a family, redundancy etc.  Six months is the period of time that they anticipate will give you a chance to come to terms with the 'loss' and moved on. 


Some social workers take this to extreme. John and Patricia's social services refused to start their Homestudy for over two years. They kept on deferring because they continuously found reasons of 'loss' that the family were experiencing - loss over failed IVF attempt, loss of parent, loss of job.  The situation was sublime.  The rub is, that life is loss. Some how or other we all muscle through it, it matures us and makes us into rounded human beings. Dealing with loss and acceptance of life's shortfalls, prepares us for life's challenges.


Adoption social workers, seem to treat 'loss' as something abnormal, something that must be given exclusive time to overcome.  We all know that adoptions take years and the personal event experienced will eventually fade by the time your child comes home. But some social workers need to know that you have come to terms with events, before you even begin the process. An understanding, experienced and mature social worker may be able to read the situation of the family and make a better judgement call, allowing the Homestudy to go ahead before the magical 6 months is over. Eventually,  John and Patricia went on to successfully adopt and we are happy to say that, that particular draconian head of adoption services, has now retired!


(I would just like to mention here something that I found very interesting in my whole adoption process.  Loss was a word that was throughly banded about - especially when it comes to the children. They are all suffering loss.  Loss of their parents, their home, their culture, their way of life, their country, their carers, their friends, their toys, their routine etc.,etc.  I was made to feel completely guilty that I was 'taking them away' and thus causing so much of this loss. This feeling was turned on its head, the first time my son and I sat down and watched our video when I came to 'take him away' from the orphanage.  When he saw the film he began to cry.  I was really concerned that he was experiencing loss at seeing his old home and the orphanage director. "It's OK," I reassured him. He looked at me, grabbed me and gave me the biggest hug and the biggest smile. These were not tears of sadness, they were tears of joy.  For him there was no loss, but only joy at what he had gained.  For all the children at an orphanage, all they every dream about is a mummy and daddy coming to give them a home and life - this joy is a feeling to be treasured. Yes, of course there is loss, but it is tempered by joy.)



Stability is a very important factor for adopted children. When you consider the fact that they have lost their parents, for what ever reason, and they have been moved from pillar to post, they need to be placed in a stable and secure family.  Some countries actually stipulate how many marriages their can be between potential adoptive parents.  The social worker will ask questions about your relationship.  There will be additional questions if you are both on your second marriages - but more than 3 marriages between you, may not be looked upon too favourably, and you will have to defend your position.

The same goes for moving around. You have to be living in the house you are living, for at least 6 months, before they will consider you. This is because of the normal adjustments that are made with a change and allows you to get settled and established. You will not be considered if you are planning to move to Brazil in 6 months time, or you have just flown into Britain for the summer and then are off again come winter. An adopted child needs stability in the first few years with his or her new family.


 Fulfilling the Requirements of the country you have chosen to adopt from

The Adoption Agency cannot begin your Homestudy if you have chosen to adopt from a country but you do not fulfil their requirements. You cannot be a single adopter and say you want to adopt from China - it is just not going to happen, you cannot hope to adopt a baby from India if you are 65 years old. Unless it is a kinship adoption (adopting a member of your family) you cannot choose to adopt from a country whose criteria you do not fulfil. The social worker will check this.


Birth Order

The UK,unlike the US, has strict guidelines as to adopting out of birth order.  Basically, you cannot  adopt out of birth order. (I doubt if this rule is applicable to kinship adoptions) What this means is that if you have children and are wanting to adopt you have to adopt a child that is younger than your youngest child (who has to be two before you can start the Homestudy). So, realistically, there is unlikely to be less than a 3 year gap between your youngest birth child and your newly adopted child.

Lesley and Peter met and befriended an orphan boy the same age as their son, when they were working overseas. Regular trips to the orphanage over a couple of years created a huge bond between these two children. When they were sent back to the UK for work they decided to start the process to adopt this little boy. To their shock and dismay they have been told that they cannot adopt him because he is the same age as their son and 'there might be problems in the future'. We are putting a case together for common sense to prevail and to get this little boy into the family that already love him.


Number of Bedrooms

If you are wanting to adopt a child, you will need to have a separate bedroom just for this child.

This restrictive regulation ruled out my chances of adopting a second time. I would have loved to have several adopted children but I live in a two up, two down London house and was told quite clearly by my Adoption Agency that they would not accept children sharing a room. I could not afford to build an extension onto my house, so one child remains forever in an orphange sleeping in a dormitory because why? They cannot share a room. This is a very sore point for me and I have not found any academic research to back up this punitive rule. And to add salt to the wound, my same Local Authority allowed another couple to adopt a second time, even though the boys now share a room.

The social workers will not entertain the idea that you will, in the future, move house and give each of the children their own bedroom. You have to have this all in place at the start of the Homestudy.


Potential adopters I have spoken to, have been told many different reasons why they could not start their Homestudy:

"Your house has too many stairs."

"You are too desperate for a child."

"Your house is too neat, you are obviously very house proud and therefore will not tolerate the mess of a child."

"You can't adopt from Russia, as the children are all mad, and they have never seen an adult face because the carers wear masks to cover their faces."

"Your husband smokes"

Please make sure that the reasons the social worker is giving is valid and not some throw away comment because they can.


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