UK adoption process: what happens during introductions?

June 21, 2013 14 Comments
adoption process introductions

Image credit: thtstudios – Flickr

Adoption introductions is a wonderful period where adoptive parents to-be finally get to meet their child. It should be enjoyed for what it is, but make no mistake, it is exhausting.

This is a guide to advise what happens during introductions and hopefully provides a few tips on how to make the most out of it.

Before that, let me stick a caveat in here – the process of introductions will be different for each set of carers, and child. The goal is the same, and the process centres on the same structure, but the detail will be tweaked – this post is about the structure, and how to prepare. My son was a toddler when he moved in, so that is the basis for the detail within this post.

The period of introductions usually lasts around 10 days, depending on the child’s age and circumstances. A younger child may need a shorter introductions process, an older child longer.

What is the aim of introductions?

The introductions period will be designed to phase out the foster carer being the primary carer, and phase in the waiting adopters, whilst ensuring the child is moved as carefully as is humanly possible.

The following is a typical timeline for introductions.

Days 1-3

If everyone involved is organised enough, a rough introductions plan will have been drawn up before introductions start. However the first thing to happen will be the introductions planning meeting. This is where everyone involved in the placement (barring the child) will meet to confirm the introductions time table. Ours was held at the local authority’s offices. Those involved include:

  • The waiting adopters;
  • The waiting adopter’s social worker;
  • The child’s foster carer;
  • The child’s social worker;
  • The agency team manager;
  • Possibly an agency health worker.

Once this meeting has taken place, the adopters will meet their child.

The first time is almost certainly at the foster carer’s home. The waiting adopters will spend time with the child under the supervision of the foster carer. The meeting will probably be quite short – one or two hours.

Days two and three will be similar, however, more time is spent at the foster carer’s home, and a trip out may be scheduled. (I.e. A trip to the park.)

Top Tip: At this stage, get as much rest as possible, and take some vitamins as it is very emotional, and draining.

Days 4-7

During this stage of the introductions, the waiting adopters will start to interact in the child’s routine, for example feeding, and nappy changing.

It is likely that a review meeting will also be held at this point. This is to ensure that each party is happy with the progress on introductions, and to discuss any tweaks, if needed.

Towards the last few days, the new parents will also take the child out of the foster carer’s home without the supervision of the foster carer.

Top Tip: Now is the time to ask the foster carer any questions you have, and clarify anything you are unsure about. Also – prepare photographs of the child in your home, so they are there when the child comes home with you for the first time.

Days 8-10

The last few days are very exhausting for the waiting adopters. They will now start to care for the child for the majority of the day, the foster carer effectively distances him or herself from any care duties whilst the adopters are present.

The child will be looked after by the waiting adopters for the whole day, and on the penultimate day (if appropriate, and geographically manageable) the child will be taken back to the adopter’s home. They will be woken up by the adopter’s, fed, bathed, napped, and put to bed.

The final day is where the child moves in with their new family. The child will be picked up by the adopters and taken home – for good!

Top Tip: Don’t prepare a big day on moving day, and don’t expect too much from the foster carer. Whilst they are aware the child is going to a permanent home, it can still be very painful – be wary, and be sensitive.

That will be that. The introductions phase is a very tiring part of the adoption process; mentally and physically challenging. You can read about my experience here. If you are about to embark on introductions – I wish you the best of luck. By all means leave me a comment about your introductions experience below.

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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 (14)

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  1. Dr.Bharati.BV says:

    I wish more people would be open to adoption .

  2. Kelly says:

    Another wonderful post! Would it be possible to write a post about the first couple of days with your son? Was there a ‘now what?!’ moment once intros were over and you were on your own? Going to panel in Sept and very excited! Kelly

  3. Great post. I can hardly begin to describe how wonderful but how completely knackering our two week intros process was. Vitamins are a great idea (and a good supply of Beechams Flu capsules too).

    What a lot of people forget is that you could be travelling miles each day. It was a 50+ mile round trip to our foster carers house. In week two that meant a 100 mile drive each day – perhaps needing to get there for 7 am in the morning to be there when the little ‘un awoke.

    Great advice about being nice to your foster carers (you’ll be living in their pockets for two weeks) and to hoover up as much info from them about anything the little ‘un has in way of likes, dislikes, routines, ways of doing things, washing powders used (to create familiar smells in the home…) and so on.

    And, yes, don’t under estimate how devastated they may feel on the handover day. We have some friends who foster and on handover days they’ve been so conflicted that they’ve been through the emotional wringer. Truly delighted about the fact that their charge is going onto a permanent forever family but still feeling like they’ve lost a child.
    Adoption Journey Blog recently posted..Chapter 9 – It’s all about ME!!!!!! – The First Preparation Day Pt 2My Profile

  4. Kez says:

    I couldn’t have found this at a better time. Panel on Tuesday and (all being well) Introductions to my toddler starting in mid-September. This article is so helpful in allowing me to think of things well before introductions while I’m relatively sane! Will keep you posted! Thanks again

  5. Michelle says:

    We start intro’s a week today and I am genuinely terrified! Thankfully we are staying nearby so we don’t have to commute but then that add’s it’s own problems of not being able to sort our house out fully while intro’s are happening! Eeeekk. The foster carer seems lovely and has been sending us pictures and info but I feel so much guilt for taking this child away from her, I’m scared it’s going to be a horrid experience.

  6. H says:

    We were terrified as well. Our child’s foster carers were great and very supportive but cannot overstate how utterly draining introductions are. We only had to drive 30 miles a day but we were shattered. Trying to integrate yourselves into the childs routines can be very difficult at times when in the foster carers home as it feels like you are stepping on their toes. When the child comes to your house it gets a lot easier. Big tips for introductions are make goodbyes really short each time you leave the foster carer house and when the foster carers go. It saves the child from getting too stressed. Our fc did not do that on two days and dragged out a goodbye for 20 minutes stressing everyone. Don’t go buying tonnes of toys your child will arrive with a boatload of toys and clothes. Don’t plan anything else socially while doing introductions you will be too tired. Buy in some ready meals as you will not feel like cooking much. Sleep when you can and chat together about the day to download your feelings and start afresh the next day. Make sure you use your social worker if you feel introductions are not progressing as you hoped. Introductions to our two and a half year old son lasted 7 days and moved in on the 8th and that was long enough for us. Don’t judge yourself during this period even if you are already a parent it is hard to get to know a child in such as short period you have the rest of their life to do that.

  7. b says:

    So much great info on here! I know this is a long way away from where my hubby and I are but can someone please tell me how long the whole process took from the day you signed the stage 1 agreement? I am expecting 6 months according to the new guidelines but has anyone become an approved adopter sooner than that?

    • The Cat says:

      Hi. My wife and I started the process June 1st 2013, got approved March 2014 and are going to matching panel 3rd December 2014 so from start to finish 19 months.

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