Adopting good practices for Adoption 

For many companies requests for Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave are regular occurrences allowing Managers to be confident in navigating the process and supporting their team members. However, when it comes to Adoption, many have never had reason to even look at the policy let alone educate themselves on the process! 

Adoption agencies have seen a significant increase in the number of people applying to be adoptive parents in the past 12 months, so for Adoption Awareness Week, we decided to provide you with our top tips on how to support your employees through the adoption process, and dispel some common myths.

1. Keep in touch with your employee throughout the adoption Journey 

Chances are they are undergoing a gruelling and lengthy process of extensive training and at times weekly social worker assessments – the average time frame to be approved for adoption is 6 months, and in some cases, the family finding can last years, every adoption time frame is different. 

You may wish to offer employees adopting time off to attend courses and meetings, although this is not a legal requirement until they have been matched. 

2. Adopting Process – What to be aware of

Did you know that even if a panel says your employee is matched with a child(ren), it is not finalised until the Agency Decision Maker (aka ADM) confirms the match? And even then the child(ren) must live with the adopters for over 10 weeks before they can apply to adopt the child(ren).  So making announcements can often be daunting for adopters in case things change. 

Do your research and be aware of your employee’s process, and ask them questions so you can better understand. 

3. Have a clear Adoption Policy  

One that defines the key touch points and entitlements to the employee. It can get confusing, and they will already have a lot on their plate, so transparency is key. 

4. Align your family-friendly policies

If offering an enhanced allowance for Maternity and Paternity leave pay, consider offering the same for adoption leave. 

If you would have held a baby shower for a pregnant employee, hold an adoption shower instead. There are some great independent stores now creating adoption-specific greeting cards and gifts. 

5. Maintain flexibility wherever possible

Adopting is not as predictable as other types of leave, and the statutory time frames often don’t match the reality of the situation which is not controlled by your employee. 

For example, an employee cannot confirm their adoption until they get formally matched at a matching panel.  

However, despite this, they are supposed to give 28 days’ notice of when they want to start their leave.  

In reality, the placement of their child(ren) could begin before 28 days is up. Consider using holidays or allowing them to start adoption leave early (this is at your discretion).

6. Employees who are not taking adoption leave still require understanding and flexibility

Like all new parents, their lives will be going through a huge transition, and they may require to take leave at short notice in order to be present for meetings or even lengthy transition periods (this is the time new parents spend with the existing foster carers in order to help the child(ren) settle in their new home and build a relationship between a child.) These transitions can take weeks and often happen in the foster carers home which can be in a different postcode or even county than where your employee lives and are crucial for successful adoption. 

7. Be aware that the adoption process could be stopped at the last minute

The legal system is complex, never more so when a child’s future is at stake. Judicial decisions could prevent the adoption of a child(ren) at the last moment or even after placement. If the employee has already started their leave, they will be entitled to remain on leave for up to 8 weeks.  

If they haven’t started their leave yet consider allowing them to take some time to process what has happened. It would be completely normal for them to grieve their loss. 

How can we help?

If you would like to learn more about any of the statutory policies then, please get in touch and see how we can support you.

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