Thinking of adopting again?

Many adopters who have experienced the joys of helping a child to settle into their family wish to adopt again. There are many reasons for wanting to welcome another child into the family and adoptive parents will want to consider how this will affect them and the children already in their family. There is also a particular assessment process for second time adopters.

‘Fast Track’ Assessment

Second time adopters and approved foster carers who have had children placed with them will have gained considerable experience and have already been through a thorough preparation and assessment process. Therefore if they wish to make a further application to be assessed to adopt, there is a ‘Fast Track’ assessment process which should take no longer than 4 months.

Things to think about

If you’re considering adopting for a subsequent time there are a number of things you may want to think about.

The length of time since previously adopted children joined your family

It is important to give a child who has joined your family plenty of time to feel secure before thinking of adopting again. It takes time for children to learn to trust new parents if the child has experienced worrying and unsettling times in the past.

The time needed for a child to feel secure in a family will vary depending on the child’s age at placement and the experiences a child may have had before joining the family. Even a child who was relatively young when placed, will need time to enjoy being the centre of attention before learning to share with another child.

Most adoption agencies would expect the family to have had at least two years to adjust to living together as a family before considering placing another child.

Age gap between children

Considering the age gap between your children is a really important decision. Adopted children will have a range of insecurities when they join your family and you will have worked hard to help that child grow in security with you. If you adopt for a second or subsequent time, the child joining your family will probably not be a baby, but rather another child with an unsettled history.

Adoption agencies will not want to do anything to undermine your existing child’s security and will generally only consider placing a second or subsequent child as the youngest child in the family. Research evidence shows that giving each child space is advisable and therefore a wider age gap (a minimum of two years, ideally more) between the children may be better.

A larger age gap of 3-4 years or more, may make it easier for each of the children to feel that their place in the family is secure, reducing any conflicts due to children being at similar developmental stages.

What if my adopted child’s birth family had another child?

This does not necessarily mean that the child would be adopted. However if no-one in the birth family was able to care for the child, the adoption agency would approach your family. The agency would want to discuss placing this child with you to enable the siblings to grow up together. There would be an assessment to establish whether this plan would be manageable for you and in the interests of all the children. The agency may consider Fostering for Adoption to reduce delay if there was a clear plan to place this child for adoption. Either way the ‘Fast Track’ assessment process would be used.

Be prepared for your child’s reaction

Be prepared for your older child to regress when another child joins your family.  Second time adopters can be taken aback when a child who seemed very settled and ready for a younger sibling is suddenly demanding and challenging. Even the most careful preparation won’t necessarily reassure a child who, in the past, may have lived through chaotic and scary times. Earlier feelings of insecurity may surface unexpectedly for both child and parents. For this reason it is helpful to talk through with your adoption team the timing of a second application and the age and backgrounds of children that you can consider.

Will my age prevent me adopting again?

Adopters who were in their 40’s when first adopting may be worried that they won’t be considered for another child. Remember that there is no upper age limit for adopters and that, as an experienced adoptive parent, you will have much to offer that is valued by adoption agencies.

Next steps

We hope this information has helped answer some questions you may have. If you feel ready to approach an adoption agency you can find adoption agencies that cover your area through our agency finder. Alternatively call 0300 222 0022 and speak with one of our advisers who will provide you with details of adoption agencies as well as answer any other questions along the way. Agencies are happy to give information and answer questions even if you’re not yet sure about adoption, so do contact them if you want to find out more.