Establishing possible links and identifying the best possible match between a child an adoptive family is an enormous decision for all involved. The purpose of the Register is to make this inherently difficult process work as well as it possibly can.

The online system allows social workers to see information about prospective adopters, and for adopters and their workers to view details of the children requiring placement. Both social workers and adopters can initiate links – any information shared by or with the adopters is automatically passed on to their worker.

In addition to the online system, there are other options for exploring possible links for a child through the Register including featuring the child at an Adoption Exchange Day or attending an Adoption Activity Day.

If a link looks possible through the online system, here are some points to consider:

1. Internal Agency Process

Each agency decides who has responsibility for following up possible links and ensuring there is clear communication with the adopters. Agencies may decide the child’s social worker will do this, may use family finding teams or may identify a specific individual to hold responsibility for monitoring and progressing links. Whatever the arrangement it is important that possible links are followed up as quickly as possible and feedback provided where a link is not to progress.

2. Confidentiality

The information which is sent is both sensitive and confidential and great care needs to be taken to ensure that inappropriate information is not included – photographs of the child, for example, should not reveal the child’s whereabouts or the name of their school. Responsibility for ensuring that only appropriate information is shared through the profile rests with the social worker and their agency.

3. Multiple Links

The system limits the number of links that can be explored at any one time. Social workers and adopters are encouraged to think very carefully about the information presented before asking to explore a link further. As well as the emotional investment people make in the linking process, it is also time consuming for all concerned, so important that links are only explored where people have a real sense of them being genuine placement options.

4. Next Steps

The connections made through the online system are clearly only the start of the matching process. Full and detailed information will be shared between the social workers and adopters involved – the system facilitates this process by allowing for the secure transfer of documents between parties.