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However much some parents love their children, sometimes they can’t look after them as well as they would like to. That means they need somebody else to love and look after them and keep them safe.
If you are being adopted, it may mean social workers have been worried that you and your brothers and sisters – if you have any – are not being properly looked after and may not be safe.
Because of this, they’ve asked a Judge to decide if you can go and live with foster carers while your parents or carers try to sort things out.
The Judge will decide if it’s safe for you to go back to your birth family. If it’s not safe, they might decide that you should be adopted.
Adoption means belonging to and growing up with a new family when you can’t live with your own. When they adopt you, your new family promise to love and look after you.
To make sure that you get the right family, it’s very important that your social worker learns what you think and feel about adoption.
They will talk to your carer to find out what you’re like at home, and to your teachers to see how you’re getting on at school, but the most important person to talk to is you. Your social worker will ask you about you.
Your social worker can help you to get ready to move in with your new family and plan visits to spend time with them, stay overnight and visit your new home.
If you meet your new family a few times and you don’t feel you’d be happy living with them, tell your social worker, foster carers or someone else you trust. It’s completely normal to feel a bit confused, so your social worker will try to help understand your feelings.
When you and everyone else feel you’re ready. When you move to your new family, you can take all your toys and everything that’s special to you – as well as your Life Story Book and Memory Box.
Your social worker will still come and see how you’re getting on, to make sure you are happy living with your new family.
To help you understand what has happened to you, and to get you ready for moving to a new family, your social worker will come and see you. This is called ‘life story work’.
Your social worker will help answer your questions. They will collect stories about you from your family and foster carers and photos from when you were younger. You will stick these in a book, which is called your Life Story Book.
You will take your Life Story Book with you to your new family so you will always have it to look at.
When you’ve lived with your new family for a while, a very special and important day will come – your adoption day.
You and your new family will go to court, where – if everything’s going well – the Judge will decide that being adopted by your new family is the best thing for you, and make an ‘adoption order’.
This means the law says you’re part of your new family, your last name will change to theirs, and there’ll be no more visits from social workers, or trips to court.
You will probably do something special to celebrate. Some families celebrate this day every year, so you’ll always have an adoption day as well as a birthday.
As you get older, your new family will tell you more about your birth family. When you’re old enough to understand, they’ll give you a letter from your social worker that explains how and why you were adopted.
When they grow up, a lot of children who have been adopted decide they want to find out more about their birth family. If you decide this is right for you, you can ask to see your files. Your social worker or another member of the children's services team will give you a leaflet that tells you how.