West Sussex County Councilchildren placed for adoption and their birth families; and
people from West Sussex who want to adopt within the UK.
The county adoption team for West Sussex works with other adoption
agencies, the courts and children's guardians to manage the adoption
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.
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.
sibling groups, where brothers and sisters need to stay together;
physically or mentally disabled children;
children from minority ethnic, religious or cultural backgrounds;
children with histories of neglect and/or abuse.
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:
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
Eligibility to adopt a childWherever 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.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 sets the legal criteria for approval
to apply to adopt. Other factors to consider also include:
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
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
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
County Adoption Team
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
South Bersted Business Park
Phone: 01243 642468
Fax: 01243 642507