Why attend an Adoption Exchange Day?
Planning for children identified as requiring adoption is the responsibility of local authorities. Where local authorities are unable to quickly identify a possible match for the child with one of the prospective adopters they have themselves approved, the Register offers a range of ways of extending the family finding search. The basic service is provided through the online linking system, but there are considerable advantages in also featuring children at an Adoption Exchange Day – or bringing them to an Adoption Activity Day.
The Exchange Days have become an established part of the family finding process in Scotland. The experience has been that both adopters and social workers find the opportunity to have direct conversations about the children extremely helpful – adopters have spoken about how much fuller a sense of the child they get from attending the event – meeting the foster carers, chatting to the social worker, possibly viewing a DVD – than they get from simply looking at children’s profiles. Social workers, similarly, have appreciated the opportunity to meet adopters at this early stage.
Adoption Exchange Days allow adopters more direct involvement in the linking process, but also also provide them with a realistic picture of the range of children requiring adoption. This can help adopters reflect more widely on the children they might be able to consider. There have been many examples of successful matches emerging from links made at Exchange Days, where adopters have felt a strong sense of connection to a child who they would have been unlikely to consider based simply on written profiles.
How Exchange Days work
Each Local Authority that asks to attend will be allocated a stand and can feature as many or as few children as they wish.
In addition to the Local Authorities, the Voluntary Adoption Agencies generally come to all of the events, both to support any of their adopters who are attending, and to provide information about the other prospective adopters they have approved and are waiting for a placement. The networking between agencies at the Exchange Days can be highly productive in building links that support the matching process.
The invitation letter sent to adopters will give them a specific time to arrive. The adopters are asked to attend a short briefing from the manager of the Adoption Register when they get to the venue. The briefing outlines the format of the event, provides adopters with some advice about how to manage the process, and clarifies what the next steps are if they want to have further discussions about particular children.
Given the nature of the event, both adopters and social workers must register their attendance in advance.
Details of each event are circulated to participants but generally agencies presenting information will be asked to arrive in the morning to set up their tables with the adopters invited to arrive around midday. The events generally conclude at 3.30 pm.
Applying to attend an Exchange Day
Adopters who wish to attend are asked to discuss this with their agency. The agency then submits an application form to the Register listing all of their adopters who are attending – deadlines for referrals are notified to agencies well in advance of the event. The Register sends out an invitation to the adopters with detailed information about the practicalities of the event along with background information about Adoption Exchange Days.
Agencies also need to notify the Register about which staff and foster carers will be attending. Again, referral forms and submission deadlines are circulated well in advance.
Any queries or concerns should be directed to the Register (see contact details below).
Dates of future events are available at the News & Events tab on the Adoption Register website.
Who should attend?
The child’s social worker or a worker who knows the child well should attend to answer questions, discuss the child’s particular placement needs in more detail and take information from any adopters who express an interest in exploring a possible link with that child.
It is very helpful if the foster carers for children featured can also attend. Feedback from adopters has consistently been that they find the conversations with foster carers particularly helpful.
Adopters attending must either have been approved by panel or have a panel imminent. In the latter case the agency must confirm that background checks (including PVG checks) have been completed.
It is also helpful for the adopters’ social worker to attend, to provide support, to link with the social workers for the children, and to begin to make the necessary connections where it is agreed there should be further discussions about a potential match.
Adopters are welcome to attend as many Exchange Days as they want. The events are organised approximately every 3 months so inevitably adopters will find that some of the children featured were also featured at previous events.
Preparing for an Exchange Day - Adopters
Exchange Days can be exhilarating but can also be emotionally overwhelming for adopters. There will be information about many children needing families, some of whom have already been waiting for a long time despite the best efforts of those responsible for their future care. Some adopters may be comfortable going round the different agency stands themselves and trying to identify children whose needs they could meet, others may prefer to be accompanied by their social worker.
It is helpful if social workers for adopters can have discussions with them in advance of the event, particularly to prepare them for some of the possible challenges.These could include:
- Adopters being disappointed if they express an interest in a particular child but are not the preferred choice of the child’s social workers.
- Adopters feeling that time is moving very slowly after the event. It may take the social workers concerned a number of weeks to gather all the information they need in order to make a decision about which family will be best able to meet the child’s needs.
- Children profiled may not achieve a placement as a result of the Exchange Day.
- Adopters being disappointed to find none of the children profiled are suitable for them.
Preparing for an Exchange Day - Social Workers
Local Authorities who are featuring children are asked to provide as wide a range of information as possible about each child – this can include a written profile, photographs, writing and drawings by the child, a DVD and information from past and present foster carers. Agencies need to bring sufficient copies of written profiles to give to adopters to take away after the event.
Feedback is requested from all participants after each event with the collated comments and suggestions circulated to agencies. Workers are urged to look at this feedback and to use it to develop the way they are presenting information about children, and engaging with adopters.
Preparing a child's profile
Although the principal benefit of Adoption Exchange Days is the opportunity for direct discussions between adopters and the people who know the child best, it is also helpful for adopters to be able to read and take away written profiles about the children.
Preparing a profile that is succinct, honest, balanced, and conveys a genuine sense of the real child, is not an easy task. The following guidance may be useful for workers and foster carers compiling a profile – Profile writing guidance.