Once you’re approved to adopt, matching with a child can take place in one of two ways. The “traditional” way happens once care and placement orders have been granted. This means the court has decided adoption is the only option and has made an order to that effect. By that point, the child will have lived in at least one home before they move to you. Once your child is home, there is a high degree of certainty with the placement.
Fostering to adopt happens before the court has made a decision about where the child lives throughout their childhood. You are approved as foster carers as well as adopters and usually, the child comes home to you from hospital. This means, potentially, yours is the only home your child will have lived in. This is obviously much better for the child as there is little or no disruption in terms of where they live if the court decides adoption is the only option.
With foster to adopt it’s the adults who are taking the risks. Until the court decides that adoption is the only option, it is possible for the child to be moved from your care back to their birth parents. This does happen. Not often, but it does happen. The additional pressure of this route is having to do things like taking your child to contact with birth parents.
The major positive for many is that their child is with them from being a tiny baby.
Only you can decide whether fostering to adopt is something you want to consider. In her second interview, Aimee shares with us her family’s experience of fostering to adopt. You can hear more about their journey on Aimee’s YouTube channel here.
Why did you decide to go down the fostering to adopt route?
We were approached about engaging with foster to adopt as we were open to a sibling group and our agency had a little one in foster care with a sibling expected within six months. Therefore, we would traditionally adopt baby one and foster to adopt baby two a few months later.
How old was your child when they came home?
Baby was less than a week old when she can to us, straight from hospital.
From your point of view, what are the main differences between fostering to adopt and a “normal” adoption placement
Foster to adopt is a foster placement giving you all the roles a foster carer has. This includes facilitating contact with birth parents which can be pretty harrowing (I have a video on my channel explaining why in much more detail “True emotions of fostering to adopt”)
How did contact work i.e. did you meet them at each session or did a social worker take your child in?
We had an agreed, private meeting point where we met with a contact worker to ‘exchange’ baby. They supervised throughout the contact sessions before returning baby to us until next time.
How did you find the fostering to adopt process?
The word I used earlier is harsh but true…harrowing! I would of course do it all over again and we feel thoroughly blessed to have known our daughter for her entire life. But it was such an intense time (yes, even more so than the traditional adoption process) that if we adopted again, foster to adopt would be WAY off the cards.
Perhaps if we didn’t have a baby who had moved in only three months before, this could have been easier to manage. There were definitely times of pure bliss and where we got to be in a perfect bubble. Overall, the experience was really hard for baby and that made it really hard for us. Contact was not fun and she did not enjoy it for one second. No matter what, we tried so that was our reality.
How long was your child home before the care and placement orders were made at court?
An interim care order was granted the day she came home and the final placement order six months later. We had our celebration hearing nine months after she came home.
How did adoption leave work? Were you or your husband able to take any time off work when your child was first placed?
Luckily, I was already on adoption leave with our first baby & only three months in when our daighter came home. My husband then took main leave for our FTA baby and was able to take three months full pay. This was a huge help for bonding and to allow our eldest adequate priority.
Were you entitled to any allowance or payment as foster carers?
Yes. We received the usual weekly payments, fuel reimbursement and certain funding for clothing, items and holidays etc.
Were there any disadvantages for your family in the placement being fostering to adopt to start off with?
Mainly contact not going well. Later on (I suspect because of contact), our daughter experienced severe separation anxiety. She still does now at 20 months old. This lingers in our lives and has become part of our routine to manage.