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The journey to adopt a child – A mixed methods study comparing aspiring parents’ perceptions of the adoption process with those of social workers and social work managers.Jakhara, Mohammed; Uninversity of Derby (University of Derby, 2018-03-23)The adoption of children in care who are legally referred to as “looked after”, (Children Act 1989, s22, HMSO, 1989) usually by local authorities is a key national Government objective (DfE, 2016a) where rehabilitation with the birth family is not viable. The desire to place more "looked after" children for adoption with greater speed is not new. It became increasingly apparent after the election of the New Labour Government in 1997 due to concerns about drift and delay in planning for children in care (DoH, 2000a) leading to poorer outcomes. This led to a series of measures aimed at increasing the use and speed of adoption. Eventually this resulted in the introduction of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 (HMSO, 2002) that also for the first time in English law recognised that the welfare of the child is of paramount concern when considering adoption. There is an abundance of published literature that considers the topic of adoption. However, there is a dearth of studies that have comprehensively considered the journey that adopters undertake to become parents. This practice based study was conducted by a researcher who is a senior academic manager and an active social work practitioner with extensive professional experience of adoption. A unique aspect of the study is the longitudinal mixed methods approach used to gather data in real time from a sample of adopters. The three part study tracks the journeys of the sample of adopters from when their application to adopt had been accepted by an adoption agency until after children were placed. The study was supported by five adoption agencies based in England. The data was collected over a period of two years from the adopters who described their experiences and perceptions of their journeys in real time. The information from the adopters is triangulated with data from adoption professionals from the agencies that supported the study. The professionals discussed their approaches to the adoption process, as well as their own experiences of working with adopters. The longitudinal nature of the study enables an analysis of how and why adopters’ experiences and perceptions changed over time. The research considered the changing power dynamics between adopters and professionals during the different stages of the journey to adopt. Furthermore, the long-term impact of professional interactions with adopters during the adoption process are discussed.