That being said, it doesn’t make you any less nervous. The adoption panel is a big step in the adoption process, and a tangible stride toward your goal.
Each case is different, so I cannot state what will happen at your panel hearing. Hopefully, however, this post will enable you to form an impression of what your own adoption panel will be like, and anticipate the questions that may be asked of you.
Who is on the adoption panel?
Typically, the panel will be made up of between 8 and 12 members, all from various roles and backgrounds related to the adoption process. For example, social workers, adopters or adoptees, council workers, local authority figure heads, and a medical officer.
What is the role of the adoption panel?
The adoption panel members are there to recommend an outcome; they do not have the power to sanction the final approval. That power instead, rests with the head of children’s services at the Local Authority. Whilst the decision maker will usually follow the recommendation of the panel, they can choose not to. This however, is very rare.
What happens at adoption panel?
The panel usually meet on a certain day of the week, or every two weeks. Throughout the day they will oversee several panel hearings.
Prior to arriving you will be given a time slot. Our panel was running quite late, so be prepared to wait.
It is likely you will be invited to a waiting room, and your social worker will also be there, so you will have an opportunity to discuss any concerns with them.
Before you are invited into panel, your social worker will be asked to go in, and the panel will briefly discuss your home study with them.
The length of this section is likely to depend on the complexities of your home study. If there were a number of intricate points that were discussed during your home study, it could be that this meeting will last a little longer. For example if your family tree is large and complicated – it may have been that the social worker spent some time going over this with you. Or, if you have suffered from a serious illness, and this was explored, it may be that this is discussed at panel with your social worker as well.
Rest assured that these discussion points should not be cause for concern. If you are at panel, then your social worker will have the confidence that you will be approved, and so they will be well prepared in answering any question the adoption panel have.
Once your social worker has completed their bit, they will either be asked to leave briefly, before you are invited in, or you will be invited to join straight away.
You will be introduced to each member of the panel, and they will explain that they want to ask questions.
What questions will the adoption panel ask?
Panel are likely to ask about three or four questions. They are not designed to catch you out; they really just want to hear the answers from the horse’s mouth.
Again, I cannot tell you what questions will be asked of you, but you can anticipate what they might be.
Following what I mentioned above, the questions are likely to be based around certain areas of your home study, and your specific situation.
For our adoption panel, for example, we were asked about me as the primary carer, being the stay at home dad, and what I had done to prepare. Another question was about how my wife would feel with not being the primary carer. The third question was about some of our family, as that was quite pertinent to our home study.
If you are concerned, ask your social worker – as they will be well versed on what to expect.
Whatever is asked of you though, be honest. They are not trick questions, and there will not be right or wrong answers.
When do we know if we have been approved?
It used to be that you would have to wait something like two or three working days, but now the panel decision is instant.
After you have been asked to leave the session, you will be advised to wait whilst panel discuss your case. We were waiting for around 10 minutes before the panel chairman came out and talked to us.
Overall the process may take about an hour, longer if there are delays, and it may depend on what needs to be discussed. The adoption panel should be sympathetic to your situation, and not drag out the process any more than they need to.
If you would like to read more about our adoption panel, please click here.
For a list of free downloadable process maps of the UK adoption process, please visit my free downloads page.