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8.12 Adoption Case Records


See Access to Birth Records and Adoption Case Records Procedure.


In September 2016, this chapter was extensively updated and should be read throughout.


  1. Opening an Adoption Case Record
  2. Security and Retention of Records

1. Opening an Adoption Case Record

1.1 Children

An Adoption Case Record for a child should be opened as soon as there is an adoption plan for the child i.e. once adoption has been identified as the Permanence Plan for the child at his or her Child in Care Review or, where a child has been relinquished for adoption, as soon as the parent's request for adoption has been made. The Adoption Case Record is separate from the child's existing case record/file.

The child’s Looked After Case Record should indicate that a separate Adoption Case Record exists and must not include information in relation to the new identity or address of the child or any information whereby the child’s pre and post-adoption identity could be linked. Such information should only be contained on the Adoption Case Record. This principle applies to information kept in whatever form - electronic, hard copy or microfilm. If the Adoption Plan is formally changed prior to the granting of the order then the information should be transferred on to a CIC file.

Where the plan relates to a group of siblings, there must be a separate Adoption Case Record for each child.

1.2 Applicants to Adopt

An Adoption Case Record should also be opened for every prospective adopter as soon as a formal application has been received. In the case of a couple, a single case record can be set up for them both. This also applies to foster carers wishing to be considered as adopters.

The prospective adopter’s record must include:

  • Stage One pre-assessment information;
  • A summary of the state of health of the prospective adopter completed by the agency's medical advisor;
  • A written report from a registered medical practitioner about the health of the prospective adopter;
  • Records and observations of DBS check for any members of household aged over 18 years old;
  • Record of interviews with nominated referees and checks with the local authority where the prospective adopter is living;
  • The prospective adopter stage one plan;
  • Assessment plan for the prospective adopter;
  • Information and reports obtained by the agency;
  • Observations relating to the preparation of the prospective adopter;
  • The prospective adopter’s report and the prospective adopter’s observations on that report;
  • Stage Two assessment information;
  • The matching plan;
  • The prospective adopter’s review report and the prospective adopter’s observations on that report where applicable;
  • Relevant information relating to the adoption panel including its recommendation, the reasons for the recommendation and any advice given by the panel to the agency;
  • A record of the agency’ decisions;
  • The recommendation of the independent review panel where applicable;
  • In addition a clear and comprehensive summary of any allegations made against an adopter or a member of the adopters’ family.

2. Security and Retention of Records

NMS 27.3. Staff understand and following the agency’s policy on dealing with requests for access to or disclosure from adoption case records and knows who is responsible for authorising them. They obtain a written confidentiality agreement from the person to whom the agency wishes to disclose the case records or information. This requirement does not cover the child or adopter

Adoption Case Records must be stored in secure conditions. Paper records should be kept in locked cabinets. Electronic records should be password protected.

In cases where an Adoption Order is made, children’s Adoption Case Records will be retained for a minimum of 100 years after the Adoption Order is made. The Adoption Service Manager will first ensure that the Adoption Case Record is complete, and especially contains the ‘Later in Life’ letters and Post-Adoption Contact Agreements.

Where an Adoption Order is not made, children’s Adoption Case Records should be transferred back to the child’s Looked After record. Any duplicated information should be shredded.

Where an Adoption Order is not made, the prospective adopter's Adoption Case Record should be retained for 50 years. 

Before allowing any access to an adoption case record themust be signed and authorised. (See Forms Library)

Whenever it is necessary to send any part of an Adoption Case Record by post, either within or outside the Council, the information should be placed in a sealed plain envelope and marked ‘PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL’. When the external post is necessary, then arrangements should be made for copies of relevant documents to be sent by recorded delivery.

Do not send personal information by unsecured email (outside of the email system) as its security cannot be guaranteed. If it is necessary to send information in this way and you do not have access to secure email (Egress & GCSX), make sure it has been either password protected or de-personalised. Send the data as an attachment to the email and flag as confidential. Emails containing identifying information about adopters or prospective adopters must not be attached to the child’s main record. See Liberi Guidance, Casenotes and documents, child going through the adoption process.