The South Coast Adoption Consortium

Consortium members 

West Sussex


West Sussex County Council
The county adoption team for West Sussex works with other adoption agencies, the courts and children's guardians to manage the adoption process for:

  • children placed for adoption and their birth families; and
  • people from West Sussex who want to adopt within the UK.
  • Staff work particularly closely with people who want to adopt, guiding them through their decision making process and the eligibility criteria, before carrying out their assessment and preparing a report on their suitability. Once approved as adopters, the adoption team supports them through child matching, introductions and placement.

    Adopting a step-child
    West Sussex County Councilís Children and Young People's Services provides advice on legal alternatives to step-child adoption, and, where appropriate, an assessment service to comply with legal requirements for adopting a step-child.

    Inter-country adoption
    In West Sussex, Children and Young People's Services has an agreement with the charity organisation, Parents and Children Together (PACT), which deals with all enquiries, and undertakes assessments of those who wish to adopt a child from overseas. PACT ensures assessments comply with DfES guidelines and takes them through to placement.

    Children and Young People's Services is also a member of the Adoption Agencies' Consultants' Group on Inter-Country Adoption, and a subscriber to the Overseas Adoption Helpline.

    Adoption Support
    Children and Young People's Services runs an advice and support service in West Sussex for adoptive parents, adopted people of any age, birth family members of adopted children, or other members of adoptive families. The adoption support service also organises and monitors any arrangements for contact with the birth family made at the time of adoption.

    Children who need families
    In West Sussex, adoptive parents are especially needed for:

  • sibling groups, where brothers and sisters need to stay together;
  • physically or mentally disabled children;
  • children from minority ethnic, religious or cultural backgrounds; and
  • children with histories of neglect and/or abuse.
  • In the past, babies were often placed for adoption shortly after birth. This happens rarely now and most children placed for adoption are older - ranging in age from one year to nine or ten years old. Consequently, for very young children and babies, prospective adopters wait longer for both assessment and placement than for older children. The county adoption team has to concentrate its efforts on applicants who are most likely to offer a home to children already waiting for a placement.

    Because of their backgrounds, some children placed for adoption have learning, emotional or physical difficulties and they may exhibit disturbed or disruptive behaviour. With loving and skilled care, however, adopted children can achieve normal standards of health, development and relationships.

    Contact with birth families
    Continuing contact with the birth family after a child is adopted is arranged as part of the adoption process when it is seen to be in the best interests of the child. Contact often takes the form of correspondence through the adoption support service's 'letterbox' scheme and involves a periodic exchange of information. Face to face, or direct, contact is arranged where important relationships need to be maintained, especially for siblings, who may live separately. It may also include birth parents, grandparents and other birth family members. Direct contact is usually supervised and monitored by social workers from the adoption support service.

    Eligibility to adopt a child
    The Adoption and Children Act 2002 sets the legal criteria for approval to apply to adopt. Other factors to consider also include:

  • Wherever possible, applicants should be of a similar ethnic origin, and cultural, linguistic and religious background, to any child they seek to adopt.
  • No strict upper age limit of prospective adopters is imposed as an eligibility criterion, but age is one of a number of factors taken into account during any assessment. It is important that the general health and life expectancy of adopters can be anticipated to meet the needs of the child throughout their childhood and into adulthood.

  • West Sussex County Council also applies the following guidelines:

  • Applicants should normally be resident in West Sussex, although applicants from other areas will be considered in certain circumstances, if, for example, they are likely to meet the needs of particular children.
  • Applicants who are couples must normally have been living together for more than two years before assessment begins.
  • Involuntarily childless couples would be expected to have sought medical advice regarding their infertility. If they are undergoing or intend to undergo infertility treatment, this should be completed before assessment begins.
  • Applicants will be sought who are willing and able, with the support of the adoption support service, to promote direct contact with birth family members, as this form of contact is increasingly judged to be in children's best interests.
  • Applicants with certain criminal convictions may not be eligible for assessment as adopters.
  • Applicants' homes should have adequate bedroom space for all occupants.
  • Assessment Process
    Following an initial enquiry from someone who wishes to adopt, a family placement social worker from West Sussex County Council's adoption team is assigned to carry out an initial home visit. If appropriate, an assessment will follow. This involves home visits, following-up personal and medical references, and carrying out police and statutory checks. As part of the assessment process, all prospective adopters are required to attend a preparation course to learn more about the special demands adopting a child may involve.

    For more information about adoption in West Sussex, contact the county adoption team:

    County Adoption Team
    Harwood House
    Kings Road
    West Sussex
    RH13 5PR

    Phone: 01403 246416
    Fax: 01403 246401

    Any adopted person of any age, family members of adopted children, or members of adoptive families, may seek advice or support from the county's adoption support service.

    Adoption Support Service
    Durban House
    South Bersted Business Park
    Durban Road
    Bognor Regis
    PO22 9RE

    Phone: 01243 642468
    Fax: 01243 642507