One of the most unknown elements of the adoption process for many is building a relationship with their social worker. We know there is often a lot of uncertainly about what information they will want to know; and concern that the social worker is going to judge and scrutinise every decision made. The reality is that social workers are there to support you, help you get the best out of the experience, and, most importantly, make sure we find the right homes for the children in our care.
The children we support have already had a tough start in life and it is our job to find adoptive parents who can help children thrive in a loving and secure home. To do this, our social workers work with prospective adopters to build trust positivity and an honest relationship. Social workers will always be honest with prospective adopters throughout their journey.
Here we give our top 5 tips for building a positive relationship with your social worker.
1. Be honest
To make sure we find children the right adoptive family, we need to know all about you. As well as looking at elements such as your employment history, financial background and relationship history, we talk to you about topics such as your understanding of adoption, your relationships with your own family and your hopes and dreams for your future child. Honesty is essential and although some of the questions might feel odd, and at times intrusive, we ask them for a reason. Being open and honest from the start helps to build a strong relationship and build trust.
2. Use the experience to your advantage
Although you may get frustrated or even exhausted from being asked lots of questions, many of our adopters say they benefitted from understanding more about how they think, the relationships they have, and what has made them who they are. Sarah sums up this experience perfectly by saying:
The adoption process is often demonised, but I got lots of help, support and I found the application process really therapeutic. Those who adopt as a couple also say they feel like they know their partner better after the process which has helped strengthen their relationship – with Steven adding: “We learnt a lot about each other in the adoption process and had conversations that we probably never would have had, had we not gone through the process.”
3. Be you
There is often a misconception that social workers are looking for a setlist of credentials, but the reality is that they are looking for open, loving, caring homes – not perfection. The best way to do this is always to be you – share the positive and challenges with your social worker from the start. As adopter Jo said: “I was worried about being rejected over something so precious as I suffered from depression and I do have a history of mental illness, but we realised through the process they aren’t looking for a perfect family – they’re looking for a home. And like all homes, ours is not perfect, but it is loving, and it is safe.”
4. Keep focused on the end result
Although being approved as an adopter can take as little as six months, completing the assessment process can be tiring and feel like a long process, but it’s important to remember why you’re doing it – your future child or children. Paul added: “You have to dig deep during the adoption process – it’s personal and churns up a lot of information so you have to be thick-skinned. It’s worth it in the end though and you have to just keep thinking of the end goal.”
5. Raise concerns early
As with everything in life the earlier you act on a problem, the easier it is to fix. If you have any concerns, questions or issues, speak to your social worker– they can often put your mind at ease, support you in making an informed decision or give you practical advice to help overcome issues.
Most importantly remember that we’re here to help and not to judge. As Paula Gibbons, Head of Service for Adopt Coast to Coast said in our recent Q&A:
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I worry that people rule themselves out due to the experiences of others which they may have heard third hand. We are not looking for a certain type of person, couple, or family. The only requirement is that you must be over 21, but people do worry if they will be suitable. There is no pre-set list of requirements – it’s all about the individual applicant and matching them to a child or children whose needs they can best meet. I also want people to know that you don’t have to be perfect to adopt – after all nobody is perfect.
Hear what some of our adopters had to say about working with social workers in our video below: