Guide: The adoption process

Adoption process

Stage 2 Assessment

Stage 2 should take approximately three to four months. During the course of this assessment, you will be attending further workshops and given other learning opportunities.

1. Leading up to the Adoption Approval Panel

Following on from Stage 1 acceptance, you will have a social worker allocated to you who will:

  • set up an Assessment Agreement detailing your learning needs and timescales
  • complete your Prospective Adopters Report (PAR) – a document detailing your circumstances and your suitability as an adopter, which will be given to the Adoption Approval Panel. The information collected by the social worker at the home visit will contribute towards the PAR, and you will have the opportunity to read and comment on it.
  • take you to adoption panel for approval.

2. Adoption Approval Panel

Within four months of beginning Stage 2 you should be presented to the Adoption Approval Panel.

If there are reasons why there has been a delay, if you or the social worker have concerns, if you have needed more time or training, or if life events have meant you needed to pause for a while, then this is all fine. The important factor is that you need to feel ready.

Panel can feel quite daunting for prospective adopters, but you are invited to attend with your allocated social worker. Panel will have read the Prospective Adopters Report (PAR) prepared by you and your social worker, so may have some questions to ask you or your social worker on the day. Based on the PAR and panel discussion, panel will make a recommendation about you one of three ways:

  1. They recommend that you are approved as an adopter.
  2. They recommend that you are not approved as an adopter.
  3. They defer the recommendation for some further work to be completed and make a date by which to return to panel.

The same process applies when you go to Adoption Panel for a match with a child, with the additional attendance of the child’s social worker.

You will get an official decision on your approval within seven working days, based on the recommendation of the panel. The panel recommendation will be given to you on the day you attend.

Download documentAdoption panel factsheet download PDF

Who is on the Adoption Panel?

The panel is made up of professionals, including social workers, medical and educational professionals, adoptive parents, adopted people, a chairperson, a minute-taker and an independent panel advisor.

Who makes the final decision about being approved adopters or a match with a child?

The Agency Decision Maker (ADM) has the official capacity to make the decision on behalf of the agency as to whether adopter or matches are approved or not. The ADM takes on board the panel recommendation, and makes an official decision. The current ADM for Devon County Council is our interim Head of Children’s Social Work Service and Child Protection (Fiona Fitzpatrick, 2014) – in their absence there is a named substitute ADM.


The ADM is not there simply to ratify the panel recommendation – the ADM is able to turn over a recommendation either way.


If the ADM accepts your approval, you are then able to look for children to be placed with you. If the ADM turns you down, then you will be told why. You can, if you wish, then ask for the Adoption Panel to reconsider your case, or you can apply to the IRM (Independent Review Mechanism) for your case to be reviewed. This is an independent Adoption Panel which will make recommendations as above.

If you do not agree with the decision, you should talk to your social worker who will let you know what your options are and how you can complain if you feel you have been treated unfairly.

If we do decide that you cannot progress you will be able to make a complaint through our Devon County Council complaints team. Full information about how to make a comment and how complaints are responded to can be found here.

You can also raise any general concerns about the process with the National Gateway for Adoption – First4Adoption.

All prospective adopters are provided with information about their options for making representations about any matter affecting their application, including the role of the Independent Review Mechanism (although the Independent Review mechanism is not available for decisions made during Stage 1).

This is the end of Stage 2.

More details can be found in our Information Pack.

Download documentDevon Adoption process PDF download