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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Adopt Thames Valley - Adoption Recruitment Policy


This procedure was updated to reflect local practice in November 2017.


  1. Introduction
  2. Life Events - Delay of Enquiry/Application
  3. Eligibility Criteria for Adoption
  4. Eligibility Criteria for Adoption - Child Protection

1. Introduction

The adoption agency aims to recruit and assess prospective adopters who can meet most of the needs of children for whom adoption is the plan.

It is not part of the recruitment strategy of the adoption agency to turn away couples or single people because of their status, age or because they and the child do not share the same racial or cultural background as the children requiring adoptive placements.

2. Life Events - Delay of Enquiry/Application

A variety of personal life factors can affect the suitability of progressing an enquirer's interest in adoption when they initially contact the service.

For applicants an assessment and the placement of children will require a large emotional and time investment for which they need to be ready, particularly in the case of Adoption where a child becomes a legal and permanent member of the family.

General guidelines in the event of receiving a call from someone recently or currently experiencing a major life event are that those experiencing the following life events should wait for the specified time frame:

  • Receiving IVF/Fertility Treatment: An enquirer should wait 6 months from ceasing all treatment;
  • Attempting to Conceive (Adoption): Children being placed for Adoption need and deserve the complete attention of their new family. We request that applicants are not trying to conceive while making an application and will not attempt to conceive until any child placed has settled into their family - this could be for a period of 2 years;
  • Experiencing bereavement: 6 months before making an enquiry;
  • Bereavement (child/spouse/partner/other significant person): 6 or 12 months taken on a case to case basis;
  • Miscarriage: Either 6 or 12 months taken on a case to case basis;
  • Discovering inability to conceive: 6 -months before enquiry;
  • Serious Illness: 12 months from recovery/or receiving diagnosis and treatment to manage condition/condition in remission.
    • Additionally an appropriate medical opinion will be sought prior to an assessment beginning;
    • In cases where it will require a significant period of time to establish recovery or remission we will seek medical advice and require this time period is observed prior to progressing an enquiry.
  • Following a previous Adoption: Minimum gap of 2 years from initial placement, 2 year minimum between children, unless they are siblings who need to live together;
  • Additionally: Second Adoption Applications: This should take account of the age of the child already adopted, i.e. a minimum of 3 years old unless a birth sibling is being considered;
  • Moving House: Some flexibility but a guide of 3 months to settle after move.
    • This is a guideline only but accommodation is part of an assessment which takes place in the home and this should be explained to enquirers.
  • Divorce or separation: 6 - 12 months for adoption.

None of the above factors/life events would prevent a person from finding out more about Adoption and in all cases we are able to send an information pack.

All these life events require sufficient time to grieve/recover We can invite to an information session, and provide advice, but will not be able to progress an enquiry to an Initial Home Visit until a suitable period of time has passed.

We will welcome enquiries at the point in the future specified and their applications will be approached & assessed without prejudice or unfair discrimination.

  • Some enquiries could be progressed prior to the advised period of time elapsing but only where a clear reason can be evidenced.

3. Eligibility Criteria for Adoption

  • Finance i: When making an application to adopt: a person, family or couple must be able to show that they are suitably financially stable to support a child or Children;
  • Finance ii: This does not require home ownership/savings or a minimum income decided by this agency - this only requires that the applicants should be able to provide those things that children will need to thrive;
  • Finance iii: In a case where financial support will be payable this will be taken into account;
  • Work: For people making an application to adopt the primary carer must be able to take a minimum of 6 months off work/adoption leave when a child is placed (or hours outside of school hours/term-time in the case of school aged children). Additional childcare is not suitable;
  • Age: Applicants to adopt must be 21 years of age minimum, there is no legal upper age limit for those wishing to adopt and this agency will seek to place children with adults biologically appropriately: the age of child an adult might reasonably expect to have had they been birth children As a rule of thumb there should be no more than a 50 year age gap between the child placed and the oldest applicant in any couple;
  • Relationships: Those in relationships should have been living together for a minimum of 2 years, those in significant relationships not living together should have been together for the same time period. Both married and single applicants are welcome - as are same sex couples whether they have made civil registration or not;
  • Housing: Housing should be of sufficient size, with an appropriate number of bedrooms to allow children to have their own room unless there are exceptional circumstances;
  • Housing: Where possible and appropriate children's wishes will be established before any plan for room sharing with another child is made;*
  • Housing: It is this agencies policy that normally children over 12 months ideally should not share a room with an adult on a permanent basis. Therefore we will not normally be able to make placements where there is no appropriate room for a child, unless future housing can be clearly evidenced;
  • Cultural practices affecting room sharing & common practice within families will be taken into account when making an appropriate ethnic & cultural match of a family with a child;
  • Employees of Oxfordshire County Council: Many employees are eligible to Adopt with Adopt Thames Valley: Where clarity is required this agency will contact OFSTED direct for advice;
  • For those working within child care settings conflicts of interest are inevitable so this agency will manage potential conflicts of interest in line with the Adoption Regulations;
  • Employees of Councils served by Adopt Thames Valley are eligible to adopt through Adopt Thames Valley provided they are not directly employed in the Children's Social Care Services within the Children, Education and Families Directorates;
  • Those employed in schools or other parts of the Directorate not directly involved with Social Care for Children are eligible to apply to adopt through Adopt Thames Valley;
  • Robust assessment of any potential conflict of interest or potential difficulties of a dual role within the County Council will be made along with the applicant/enquirer;
  • Health i: Applicants to adopt should be in reasonable good health that will allow them to care for children or have their conditions managed for a time period as specified above;
  • Health ii: Applicants to adopt should be in reasonable good health and with the reasonable expectation of them being able to care for child/children into their adulthood;
  • Smoking: Due to the proven ill effects on health of both smoking & passive smoking this agency does not place children with adults who smoke unless there are exceptional circumstances which justify a deviation from this principle as being in the best interest of the child or children concerned. This also includes e-cigarettes. For those adoption applicants or members of a household who are in the process of stopping smoking, they should be advised that to be classed as a non-smoker involves having given up smoking, including e-cigarettes for at least 6 months.

    If approved foster carers or family and friends carers who currently smoke apply to adopt a child in their care, the additional health risks to the child of remaining in a smoking household need to be carefully balanced against the benefits of the placement for the child. This assessment must be clearly documented on the child's case record and each case judged on its merit.

    When current approved adopters are subject to an annual review of their approval, the implications of this smoking policy should be discussed with them or anyone living in their household, if any have become smokers since their original approval;
  • Criminal Offences: (Schedule 1 offenders see Section 3 - Eligibility Criteria for Adoption - Child Protection). Those who have been convicted of criminal offences of a violent nature are not eligible to adopt, except in cases where: considerable time has passed, no further offences have been committed during that time and an open disclosure of the nature, timing and circumstances is made;
  • Criminal Offences: Adopt Thames Valley considers offences of a violent nature to be reason sufficient not to approve an applicant to adopt.

Future Applications re above

The above policy does not prevent any person/s from making an application at a future date if excluding factors/circumstances change, and their application will be approached/assessed without prejudice or unfair discrimination.

4. Eligibility Criteria for Adoption - Child Protection

  • Criminal Convictions (schedule 1 offences) i: This agency shall not consider at any time applications to adopt, from those with offences against children;
  • Criminal Convictions (schedule 1 offences) ii: This agency shall not consider any applicant if they, or any member of their household, has committed an offence as specified in:

    The Children (Protection from Offenders) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 1997 or Regulation 23 of the Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005.