Adoption Support

Adoption is a major event and the people whose lives have been affected by adoption may need advice, help and support at various times in their lives.

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is an adoption agency and, under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, has a responsibility to provide support to all parties to adoption: adoptive families, birth families and adopted adults.

There are a wide range of services available to parties affected by adoption and the table below highlights who can request an assessment of their support needs and the services they could be entitled to.

At some point during your adoption journey, the chances are you will need support from outside your family and friends. From straight forward factual advice or worries about behaviour there is support from experienced adopters, others in the same position as you now, as well as social work, education and health colleagues.

Leading up to a child being placed with you, you should have :

  • A summary of your child’s health from an adoption medical adviser
  • A ‘Child Permanence Report’ about your child

And within 10 days of an adoption order being made

  • A ‘life-story’ book and ‘later life’ letter to help you help your child understand their early life
  Services for which they are entitled to be assessed
Person being assessed Services to enable discussion of matters relating to adoption Assistance in relation to arrangements for contact Therapeutic services Services to ensure the continuation of adoptive relationship Services to assist in cases of disruption Counselling, advice and information Financial support
Agency adoptive child  
Adoptive parent of an agency adoptive child  
Child of adoptive parent        
Birth parents or guardians of an agency adoptive child        
A relative (or someone with whom the local authority consider the child to have a beneficial relationship) of agency adoptive child          
Intercountry adoptive child      
Intercountry adoptive parent        
Birth sibling of an adoptive child          
Non-agency adoptive children, their parents and guardians            
Prospective adopters            
Adopted adults, their parent, birth parent and former guardians            
A relative (or someone with whom the local authority consider the child to have a beneficial relationship) of a non-agency adoptive child            

Services for adopted adults

Blackburn with Darwen adoption agency is aware of the life-long impact of adoption and can offer support and an opportunity to look at the individual issues for adopted people. Many adopted people decide, at some point in their lives, to find out more about the circumstances that led to their adoption and to seek information about their birth families. Adopted adults have the right to access their adoption records, which hold information about their past. Like other adoption agencies, it is our responsibility to keep adoption records for 100 years.
Sometimes adopted people decide to try to trace and contact members of their birth family, or they may decide that they do not want to have any contact with their birth family and wish to place a veto on any contact from their birth family.
If you were adopted through us or currently live in Blackburn with Darwen, we can provide services and advice for you and assist you through the process of accessing your adoption records. 
Available support services for adopted adults

  • Counselling, advice and information.
  • Access to adoption agency records.

Blackburn with Darwen Council also has an agreement with After Adoption, a specialist adoption support agency, to provide the following support services on our behalf. You can contact After Adoption directly to seek support or we can refer you.

  • Support groups for adopted people.
  • Access to a tracing service.
  • Intermediary service to contact birth relatives.
  • Pre- and post-reunion counselling.
  • Assistance if you do not wish to have contact with your birth family.

Services for adoptive families

Adopting a child can be rewarding and sometimes challenging! Many adoptive families find that at some point their family could benefit from outside advice and support, from people who understand that adopted children and their parents have particular issues to cope with during childhood and beyond. Adoption support services are available to help at these times.
Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is responsible for undertaking an assessment for adoption support services:

  • If you adopted a child through us and it is less than three years since the adoption order was made, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council will be the lead agency to provide you with support, wherever you live. After three years it is the responsibility of the authority where you live to provide support to your family.
  • If you live in the borough and it is over three years since your child’s adoption order was made, we are responsible for providing support, whatever agency placed your child.
  • If you adopted from overseas and live in the borough we can give you support.
  • If you are an adopted child under the age of 18 years, you can contact us for support.
  • If you are a step-parent family and have adopted your partner’s child, we can give you support.

An adoption support social worker will carry out an adoption support assessment at your request. It will explore your particular situation, circumstances and needs and determine what resources are available locally to help you. From this assessment we will make a plan.
All local authorities must act reasonably in deciding whether to provide adoption support services following an assessment. If you would like an assessment please contact us.

Available support services for adoptive families include

  • Counselling, advice and information on the telephone or face to face.
  • Support with any contact arrangements with the child’s birth family, either direct or indirect arrangements via a letterbox service. We also offer a mediation service if there are disagreements about the contact or if changes need to be agreed.
  • Support groups offering training and workshops (see link)
  • Financial support may be available, based on assessment of child’s needs and on the adoptive parents’ financial resources.
  • Therapeutic services for children.
  • Support and consultation from a psychologist based in the adoption team
  • Helpline provided by After Adoption
  • Annual family fun day.
  • Bi-annual newsletter.

If you would like to be put on the mailing list to receive information about events which may be of interest, please contact us.

Services for birth families

As an adoption agency we have a duty to an adopted child’s birth family. We are committed to supporting birth relatives throughout the process of their child being adopted and afterwards.
Birth families who are affected by adoption often find it helpful to talk to someone about their experiences of losing a child to adoption. If there are contact arrangements with their adopted child, they may need help and support to maintain this contact. Our post adoption support social workers will understand these issues and can help.
Birth parents, birth relatives and anyone else who has had a close relationship with the adopted child can ask for an assessment of their adoption support needs. Our post adoption support social workers will look at what kind of support is needed and what can be done to help.

Support available for birth families includes

  • Counselling, advice and information via the post adoption support social workers and / or independent agencies. If your child is currently being adopted through us, independent counselling is available.
  • Support with contact arrangements, whether direct or indirect (via a letterbox service). We also offer a mediation service if arrangements need to be changed or if there is a disagreement about contact.
  • Support groups: our post adoption support social workers can provide information about support groups for birth relatives.
  • Assessments for adoption support: assessments are carried out by the post adoption support social workers at the request of a birth relative. Please contact us by letter, phone or email.
  • We can also offer an intermediary service to support the relatives of adopted adults with whom they would like to make contact, and access to a tracing service. This is provided by an independent agency we work closely with.
  • Assistance if you do not wish to be traced or contacted by an adopted relative
  • Helpline provided by After Adoption

We're committed to providing support wherever this is needed. We know that many families experience different challenges in their lives and encourage adoptive families, children and young adults, birth families and adopted adults to contact us and seek advice and help.

The adoption passport - A support guide for adopters (168kb pdf)
Our service can also help to negotiate support from other services on your behalf. We can refer you to other agencies including:

  • The Citizens Advice Bureau for financial advice.
  • East Lancashire Child Adolescent Services.
  • Education Services.

Financial support

There's a variety of financial support available to people who adopt, including:

Priority School Admissions for 'previously looked after' children

The new School Admissions Code (released in February 2012) introduced a new requirement on all admission authorities to broaden the existing priority for 'looked after children' or children in care, in accordance with section 22 of the Children Act 1989, to also include 'previously looked after' children, for 2013 admissions onwards.

Children who were 'previously looked after' are defined for the purposes of the legislation as those who immediately after being in care became subject to an adoption, child arrangement/residence, or special guardianship order.

You will need to provide a copy of an adoption order made under section 46 of the Adoption and Children act 2002 or Section 12 of the 1976 Adoption Act*.

*Please note: On 13 May 2014, the Department of Education changed it's guidance regarding 'previously looked after children' to include children adopted under the 1976 Adoption Act. The new DfE guidance can be found by clicking on this hyperlink.  

Pupil Premium

Schools in England receive the Pupil Premium Plus for children adopted from care, or who left care under a Special Guardianship Order on or after 30 December 2005. Schools can also claim the Pupil Premium for children who left care under a Residence Order on or after 14 October 1991.
The Pupil Premium Plus is to help schools raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and is available to those from Reception to Year 11. The Government has extended the coverage of the Pupil Premium in recognition of the traumatic experiences adopted children may have experienced in early life.
To enable your child’s school to claim the allowance, you should inform the school about your child and provide supporting evidence, for example, show the school a photocopy of the Adoption Order (with sensitive information concealed).
For more information and an FAQ on the Pupil Premium Plus, please visit First4Adoption’s website or speak to one of their advisers direct on 0300 222 0022. Alternatively you can speak with your social worker or speak to one of our post adoption social workers.

Two-year-old free entitlement

  • From September 2014, two-year-old children adopted from local authority care have been entitled to 15 hours per week Government funded early education.  There is strong evidence to show that good quality early education at the age of two supports children’s development.
  • For more information please contact:
  • Families Information Service, Ground Floor, 10 Duke Street, Blackburn, BB2 1DH 
  • Phone Number(s)  01254 667877 
  • Fax Number(s)  01254 585280 
  • E-mail 
  •  Further information can also be found on the Government’s website GOV.UK at

NHS Choices - health services for adopted children

NHS Choices has launched on its website information and case studies on the health and wellbeing of adopted children and adoptive parents. The new content aims to raise awareness of adoption as a parenting choice and signposts to the support and services available on adoption health issues, such as services that offer specialist support for children with complex mental health issues. Find out more on the NHS Choices pages here (opens in a new window)

Agency Support Services Adviser - ASSA – Role and Contact Details

The ASSA for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is Service Leader – Placement Services and they can be contacted on 01254 666800
The role of the ASSA is to:

  • give advice and information to people affected by adoption –
  • give advice, information and assistance to other staff in the local authority on  adoption support services and supporting and facilitating intra- and inter-agency joint working where needed;
  • consult with, and give advice, information and assistance to other local authorities.

Related documents

The following documents are in Portable Document Format (PDF). You can download software to view PDF documents for free from the Adobe website (opens in a new window)

How to Complain

If you are not happy with the service provided and wish to make a complaint please contact:

Lynda Henderson
Customer Care Manager
Blackburn with Darwen Borough
PO Box 478, Blackburn BB2 9BR
T: 02154 585755

Once your complaint has been investigated by us and you are not satisfied with the outcome you are then able to take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman whose contact details are:

Local Government Ombudsman
Advice Team
PO Box 4771
Tel: 0845 6021983