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I'm on my own - can I still be a foster carer or an adoptive parent?

Yes. We'll consider you as a carer or adoptive parent whether you're single, married, divorced or living with a partner.

Must I already be a parent?

No. We welcome applications from single people and couples who don't have children, as well as those who do. If you are adopting, we recommend a 2 year age gap between any adopted child and birth children.

Do I need a big house?

No. It doesn't matter if you live in a flat or a house, or if you rent or own your home. However, it's important that children are able to have their own room so you will a spare room.

I'm in my 50s - is that too old to be a foster carer?

No. People of all ages make successful foster carers.

Will I get paid as a foster carer?

Yes, carers get paid as self-employed people by the Council. The amount you're paid depends on the type of caring you undertake. You would also be entitled to tax relief from the Government. As well

as being paid, you would receive a maintenance allowance/expenses to cover the costs of caring for the child. Some adopters are eligible for an adoption allowance.

Will I get paid as an adoptive parent?

You are expected to meet the general living costs of a child you adopt, just like any parent. However, you will receive an age-related allowance until the adoption is granted and following that you may be eligible for an adoption allowance, which depends on the identified needs of the child. We will pay towards the cost of introductions including accommodation and mileage if required.

My time is limited - can I still be a foster carer?

Yes. You don't have to be available on a full-time basis for short breaks.

What ages are children who need foster care?

All ages. We need carers who can look after children from babies through to adolescents. We also need carers for sibling groups.

How long does it take to become a foster carer or adoptive parent?

It can usually take between three and six months to become approved as a foster carer or adoptive parent. You will be assigned a fostering and adoption worker who will guide and support you through your fostering/adoption journey.

Will I be told about the child's background?

It is very important that you know as much as possible about the child's past which includes details about their early childhood experiences, education, previous foster care experiences and any medical needs. This knowledge will help you understand the child when they come to live with you, help the child understand the circumstances of their adoption and help you find the best way of supporting them in the future. You will be able to meet with our medical advisor who will take you through the child's medical history to help you gain a better understanding of any health needs they may have now and in the future.

Do I need to become a foster carer before I adopt a child or children?

Yes, you will be dual approved as a foster carer and a prospective adopter. All children will need to be placed with adoptive families on a fostering basis until the adoption order is granted. However, you will not be expected to foster other children.

What is the legal process for adoption?

When adopting, you will be able to petition the court any time 13 weeks after a child or children have been in your care. You will be required to approach a solicitor to act on your behalf to submit a direct petition to court for an adoption order. Social workers will complete the necessary paperwork and all legal costs will be met by Dumfries and Galloway Council.

What rights do birth parents have after adoption?

Once an adoption order has been made, birth parents have no legal rights to the child and cannot claim him or her back. On rare occasions birth parents may retain a right to some level of contact, however you would be supported with this.

After adoption will the child still see their birth parents or other relatives?

Many children who are adopted have letterbox contact with other important people in their lives, this means that they will get regular (yearly, sometimes twice yearly) letters, all letters are passed through the Fostering and Adoption Team. This can help children understand their identity. For a few children it may be in their best interests to occasionally see a birth parent, sibling, grandparent or previous foster carer. This is something we will discuss fully with you before a child or children are placed with you.

What support will I get after adopting?

Once you adopt you are entitled to the same range of universal services and other support as any child. In addition, we have post-adoption support workers who are there to support you and your child, we run regular adoption support groups with guest speakers where you can meet and talk to other adoptive parents. We also run training courses where you can learn more about life story work, theraplay and letterbox contact. A post-adoption meeting will be arranged to determine the support you require.