UK adoption process: What happens at adoption panel?

May 17, 2013 19 Comments

adoption panelIt is difficult to explain exactly what will happen at your adoption panel, but I will start by saying that at the time of our hearing approximately 95% of cases were approved.

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.

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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 (19)

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  1. Vicki says:

    One of the scariest days of my life, when actually it shouldn’t have been. Our social worker wouldn’t have taken us to panel if she had any doubt we’d be approved – it would have been a waste of her time.
    Our questions were not difficult – something about my health and how well I manage my diabetes, and I can’t even remember the second!

    I’m sure prospective adoptive parents will find this a really useful post, so thanks for linking up with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x
    Vicki recently posted..The nightmares…My Profile

  2. I wasn’t nervous at all when it came to my panel (which was matching and adoption all in one) as I was just so sure that my SWs had it all covered! It was only afterwards that I realised what a momentous thing had just happened, and then I wished I’d planned some sort of celebration afterwards. It seemed strange to just come home and put the kids to bed and then sit down as if it was a normal night when in fact a total life change I’d been planning for so long had just been officially sanctioned and I was going to become a Mummy! Thankfully I have a good friend who was able to come over at a moment’s notice and have a glass of wine with me – not exactly wild celebrations I know, but as good as it gets once there are toddlers in the equation!
    Suddenly Mummy recently posted..Celebrations!My Profile

  3. Lisa says:

    This is useful to me! We are at panel on Tuesday. Our social worker has not discussed what happens at panel with us yet! We got our letter yesterday, all of this makes me a little anxious!

    • Well I am sorry it has made you anxious, but as we have said – you won’t be getting to panel unless your social worker is confident it will be a positive result.

      The other thing to remember is panel won’t flatly refuse you, worse case is they will ask you go away and work on something – you will be able to go back to panel, but I am positive it won’t come to that.

      Good luck and let us know how you get on, thanks for the comment.
      Andrew McDougall recently posted..UK adoption process: What happens at adoption panel?My Profile

  4. Sarah says:

    I really like the way you are writing posts that can be of use to adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents. You give some really useful information but it is personal too. Your site is looking good too. Liking your work !!

    Thank for linking up to The Weekly Adoption Shout Out

  5. Donski says:

    Hi there my husband and I live in Lancashire and have just made initial enquiries to adopt a child. I am 37 with a 19 year old from a previous marriage and my husband is 33 with no children. We have talked for years about trying for our own or adopting and have finally decided adopting a toddler would suit us better. I am concerned at how intrusive the process is even though we have been researching for about 2 years now.
    Can anyone help with my following concerns?

    Will the panel be put off that we could have our own if we wanted?
    Will they do credit checks? I have a past bad credit.
    we have a 9 year old dog and 2 cats-what questions/checks will they do?
    We plan to both carry on working full time after adoption leave had finished. Will this be frowned upon?
    We don’t currently have a spare bedroom but have contacted a builder to come round this week so we can get some quotes and make a start on the work. Will we not be able to proceed without the room finished?

    Does anyone know anything about be ny parent-we have seen a few children on their that we think we could be parents to and help develop.

    We just both really want to make a difference to someone’s life as we both had great childhoods and want to give a little child the chance in life we got.

  6. Kellie says:

    It concerns me that their are so many sites that support adotive parents, and I am aware some but very very few children are in fact abused.. But I wonder how many of you realise most children are forced from their parents, either from birth, some even taken screaming fromt heir homes… Social services is out of control taking loved children for pos future emotional harm, many with conditions they fail t o understand. I see a diabetic mother here, yet I am talking to another on messager whos daughter was ripped from her because she has mild diabetes. My children now 4 and 3 where ripped from me… We have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome but they refused to understand now abusing my children… Take for forced adoption… Just research it. you will see how very true it is… I would like all adoptive parents to know.. WE are exposing this… and we are coming for our children….. WE have not forgotten, we have not gone away,,, we will take our children back…

  7. mia says:

    Our panel date is 13th march we are nervous but positive stay and also how you mentioned before that ig our SW will not be sure about being approved probably wouldnt let us go?

  8. Donna says:

    hi me and my husband are also wanting to adopt, im 26 and he is 30, we live in Ipswich and after trying to conceive for 4 years i found out i cannot naturally have children. we are wanting to try and adopt a new born if possible. we are both working full time and we are also wondering what they will require from us.

    i have a bad credit rating at the moment, will they be doing credit checks?
    my husband is south african, would that be a problem if he is on a marriage visa and not yet a permanent resident?
    we also have a cat, would that be a problem?
    are there certain financial requirements we must meet?
    do you know roughly how long the wait is for a newborn/baby under a year old?
    if i had a bad childhood could that hinder us being able to adopt (this one may seem silly but it has been worrying me)

    being a mum is all i have ever wanted and now going into it, its so scary and don’t want to get anything wrong.
    Donna recently posted..Another first experience: Flying with EasyjetMy Profile

  9. Laura says:

    Hi Andrew, I see you have been kind enough to answer questions. I have a couple. My other half and I are in our early 30s and he agrees with what I have known since I was a child – I want to adopt, I just don’t see why a child has to be biological to love it, and I don’t see any point in adding to the population when I could adopt. I can’t bring myself to have my own child when there are so many already in need of a home. I wonder if they will think that is strange.

    He smokes, we have frequent children over and he won’t even smoke around our cats. But he does not want to give up, it’s what he likes doing. We are vegetarian in our household and eat more than seven a day, all organic, so we take charge of our health that way.

    We both have had previous anti-depressants and drug use because of bad times in our lives. We want to adopt approaching 40 and ensure anything bad is behind us though. He also has a record for drug trafficking, he was 19. He now works full time and volunteers at a homeless shelter and has a dream of helping ex-offenders.

    I have no record and good career history and a degree.

    I wonder if any of this will be made easier in seven years or so, will all this ever be considered behind us by them? Or will our previous troubles mean we are unfit for good? I wonder. I still do not want to procreate though.

    It looks rather bad on paper, but he has come a long way since his transgression in crime, and his only drug use was in prison, never out. Mine was a dark three months in my life where I delved into it to solve my problems. We don’t even really drink now for about three years.

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