Adoption application refusal – what to do next

June 14, 2013 11 Comments
thumbs down 150 Adoption application refusal – what to do next

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One of the most difficult times of my life was when our local authority refused to take up our adoption application.

It was simply devastating. We had gone through a heart breaking IVF procedure, which was painful enough, but when we read the letter from our council denying us any further part within their adoption process, it felt like the world had conspired against us. I was angry – mainly because others were deciding our fate as parents.

Here I am today though, sat in my kitchen; my wife reading a story to our adopted son – we couldn’t be happier – so how did it all change?

I have noticed a few people have landed on my site looking for this answer, and I can imagine their distress. This post is designed to advise what we did in the situation, and how we battled past our own adoption application refusal.

Find out why

The first thing you need to do is contact your local authority, and find out why they refused your application.

This will be easier for some than others, but it is pertinent to remain calm and civil, yet assert your position.

I probably made five or six phone calls, and exchanged a number of emails before the department manager finally spilled the beans on the real reason for their refusal to take our application further.

Their original reason was vague and limp, so I pressed them, and they finally ‘confessed’ to not taking on our application because they feared it would result in them falling out of their timescales.

Keep pressing them, and get everything in writing. Ask them if you can apply again after an allotted time.

Examine the reasons behind the refusal

If the reason for the adoption application refusal is a hefty legal fence (for example; you have been convicted of child abuse) then I am afraid I can’t help you.

However, if, as is likely to be the case, the agency refuses your application on personal grounds, then it is worth being a little introspective about it.

If there is something you can change, then look to change it. If it is something you disagree with, then you can challenge the social services department. I am not saying they will change their minds, but I am aware of situations where they have done.

Find a precedent  

If you feel you are being unfairly treated, it may be worth looking to find examples where similar adopters have been taken on by agencies where you have been refused.

This would require a certain amount of research, and again, nothing is guaranteed, however, local authorities should remain consistent throughout the country where they possibly can.

A good starting point would be the Adoption UK forum. There are hundreds of people who I am sure would be able to offer some advice for a specific situation.

Remain amicable

It is paramount that throughout any communication with the agency you remain as polite and civil as you can. There were times I wanted to storm down to our local authority’s office and cause havoc, but it would not have done me any good.

In fact, it is likely to have the opposite effect.

If you feel the red mist descend, then take a step back. Don’t phone the agency. If it helps – write a letter explaining all your grievances – you don’t have to post or email it, just write it.

Seek an alternative agency

Just because your local authority refused your application, it doesn’t mean you cannot apply to another authority or agency.

This is what we did.

A word of advice – a county council’s adoption department is obliged to seek potential adopters within their county boundaries, so if you physically live outside a county, then you cannot apply. However, a city council is not bound by this rule, and in fact actively seeks potential adopters from outside the city limits.

The agency or local authority that refused you should provide you with alternative agencies to contact. Pick a few closest to you, and ring round to see when their open days are.

The agency you choose will have to do checks with your local authority, but if you are confident that their reasons for refusal were not robust enough for you not to be adoptive parents, then you should not give up.

I wish you luck. It is an awful feeling to have someone else seemingly in charge of your parental destiny, but being refused an adoption application doesn’t have to be the end of your adoption journey.

If you want anonymous advice I am happy to help, or at least lend an sympathetic ear – contact me via my support page.

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About the Author:

Andrew is an adoptive father, and stay at home dad. Having adopted his son in January 2013, he is a new adoptive parent, but well versed in the adoption process. He is a married, coffee drinker, Xbox addict, and a Marketing graduate. Andrew McDougall is an alias he uses to protect the identity of his adopted son.

Comments (11)

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  1. Nicky says:

    Thanks for this post, I’ve just finished reading your blog and it’s a great read. Very honest but postive too. This post puts my mind at rest, a bit. We haven’t been turned down, but I feel like there are options and that we CAN challenge decisions that are made by our social worker. Keep up the great blog, it’s keeping me going!

  2. Hi, that is great to hear. You can challenge your social worker, but try not to pi$$ them off! If there is anything you need specific advice on – let me know, otherwise good luck. Thanks for leaving a comment.
    Andrew McDougall recently posted..Adoption application refusal – what to do nextMy Profile

  3. We found the biggest problem we had with local authority agencies was geography. We live in a city local authority and they wouldn’t take us on because of the high chance of running into the birth family when out and about with the adopted child. Lots of other local authorities wouldn’t consider us because we didn’t live in their area.

    We did find a local authority to take us on, but unfortunately we wil soon be going to a pre-panel meeting to persuade them to carry on with our application, as our social worker has made a judgement that flies in the face of all the expert evidence availible to her.

    To anyone who is struggling with the agencies, at what ever stage, I can only say – keep on fighting your case. I’m trying to view all the difficulties as a way to demonstrate that we have the sticking power that will be needed to successfuly parent an adopted child!
    lostinthewoods recently posted..A letter in a cache 2My Profile

  4. Gill says:

    As a teacher in a small town with it’s own authority, I instinctively drew away from using the council services. We used a charity, and it’s been the best decision we could have made. Panel is coming up!

  5. Sam says:

    It looks like we’re being refused as my partner has the BrCa2 gene and will have to have surgery in the future.

    At the minute, I’m not even sure if I have the strength to fight this, but your post has helped.

    Thank you.

  6. Des Clark says:

    Hi Andrew, just read your blog and it has given us some hope, we have just been turned down by our local authority to adopt a little boy that we have had in our care for well over 12 months. We applied to the authority but got turned down, 1 of the reasons was our age, we have read all the adoption books and it clearly states there is no upper limit. I will now contact our local authority to get the reasons in writing so that we mau challenge their decision.

    Many thanks

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