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8.4 Placement for Adoption

RELATED DOCUMENTS

This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Permanence Planning Guidance, and Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure.

A Children’s Guide to Adoption Support

Education Policy for Children Adopted from Care

Allegations and Complaints Against Prospective Adopters and in Relation to Children Placed for Adoption or Already Adopted Procedure

See also Liberi User Guides for the following documents listed below:

  • Adoption Pathway Flowchart – Liberi Guidance;
  • Case Notes – Child Going Through Adoption Process – Liberi;
  • Adoption Panel & Agency Decision Making – Liberi;
  • Family Finding & Adoption Matching – Liberi;
  • Introductions & Placement Planning – Liberi;
  • Adoption Order – Liberi.

AMENDMENT

In April 2017, this chapter was updated and should be read in its entirety.


Contents

  1. Planning for Permanence
  2. Obtaining Agency Approval to Adoption Plan
  3. Preparation of Child for Adoption
  4. Counselling and Support for Parents
  5. Child's Adoption Medical
  6. Changing the Child’s Name on or After Placement with Prospective Adopters
  7. Post-placement Contact
  8. Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter Agency Placements)
  9. Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents
  10. Planning the Placement 
  11. The Placement
  12. Children Approved for Adoption for Whom No Placement has been Identified
  13. Adoptive Placements Abroad

    Appendix 1: Agency Decision Checklist


1. Planning for Permanence

1.1 Every Child in Care must have a Permanence Plan by the date of his or her second Child in Care Review. Where a case with an Adoption Plan is being stepped up from another team, a member of the CiC team is invited to the Legal Planning meeting. The CiC team will email the adoption pack (medicals, forms) to the child’s social worker, if they are outside the CiC team.
1.2

When an Adoption Plan is being considered in relation to Children in Care, the Family Finding Team should be notified. Consideration should be given as to whether concurrency or fostering for adoption is appropriate.

An Adoption Plan may be decided on at a Permanence Planning Meeting before or after the second Child in Care review. The Independent Reviewing Officer must be notified by the child’s social worker as soon as it is known that adoption is to be pursued and the Adoption Care Plan developed.
1.3 In relation to a Relinquished Child, a referral should be made through CDT and then into the District Social Work Team. The District Team will contact the family finding team to arrange a joint visit to the expectant mother. Where adoption is the agreed plan for a relinquished child, family finding should begin immediately in order to achieve early placement following the decision. The adoption service will jointly work the case with the allocated team and the case will then transfer to the adoption service at the initial child in care review.
1.4 Early family finding should begin as soon as adoption is under consideration, and before the Agency Decision Maker decides that the child should be placed for adoption or a Placement Order is made. Progress will be dependent on the legal situation. Progress will be dependent on the legal situation. See Permanency Planning Meetings Procedure.
1.5  If the child is not yet subject to an interim care order, then refer to Section 5, Child's Adoption Medical for early pre-care medical process. This is to address the issue of having the decision of the agency decision maker before any final care plan proposing adoption can be filed with the court.
1.6

Early actions should be considered no later than the first CiC review and include:

  • Completion of the Parental Health Assessment (PH) by the child’s social worker, within 3 working days of the child becoming looked after;
  • Request for M/B forms (if not already made);
  • Ensuring photographs of the child’s early life and parents are requested, and that foster carers ensure photographs are taken regularly (see Life Story Books Guidance);
  • Starting to gather information for the child’s permanence report (see CPR slides in Practice Guidance);
  • Permanency Planning meeting where necessary (see Permanency Planning Meeting Procedure);
  • Referral to the Adoption Family Finding team (no later than week 8 of becoming looked after) through completion of the Family Finding Referral Form or by inviting family finding to a Permanency Planning Meeting;
  • Instruction to legal services for disclosure of reports to be presented to Court, and permission to profile the child prior to granting of the placement order, where appropriate.

1.7

Sibling Assessments

In the case of siblings, an early decision should be taken as to whether it is in the best interests of each child to be placed together or separately, and the impact on each child of that decision. The decision should be based on a balanced assessment of the individual needs of each child in the group, and the likely or possible consequences of each option on each child.

For each child in a sibling group the long term advantages and disadvantages of kinship care (see Forms Library) or adoption, with or without their siblings, should be carefully assessed and analysed as new evidence comes to light. Preconceptions about sibling placements are unhelpful, while some siblings will do better in separate placements, others will be best placed together.

Factors that should be considered, using the sibling assessment template (see Forms Library) will include:

  • Direct work with the children to ensure their wishes are identified;
  • Information from relatives, friends and professionals about how they relate;
  • Each child's attachment style;
  • In utero development issues, pre and post natal care;
  • Information from Parental Health (PH), Obstetric Report on Mother, Neonatal Report on child (M/B), Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire Ratings, Child’s Permanence Report and/or other recent assessments of the child;
  • The complexity of each child’s needs;
  • The nature of the sibling group especially each child’s perception of the importance of brothers/sisters;
  • Whether the children have shared childhoods and/or heritage?
  • How plans to part or reunify children will be carried out;
  • Whether targeted family finding should take place;
  • What support will be needed for the placement;
  • What contact will be in the children’s interests if they are not to be place together.

This assessment should be considered within a permanency planning meeting.

A sibling assessment must inform the type of placement and carers are required to meet the individual needs of each child. Thoughtful, reflective practice must be evidenced, and a risk assessment carried out, using the Signs of Safety based section provided in the Sibling assessment template.

The individual child’s needs will take into consideration in utero developmental issues, pre-natal care and post-natal care. These early experiences will inform the type of placement and carers required. Issues in relation to birth trauma including oxygen deprivation, smoking through pregnancy, parental mental health and learning difficulties will need to be balanced against potential positive sibling relationships as these developmental factors can contribute to later placement disruptions, thereby creating increased separation and attachment anxiety and poorer outcomes for children and young people. 

The likelihood of future disruptions should be considered and inform matching and sibling placements. Carers where children with complex needs are placed together as siblings should be assessed and supported appropriately to provide adequate care to siblings to prevent disruption.

The impact on children who remain in the care system due to sibling placements being unavailable should be considered. It should be borne in mind that outcomes for care leavers are poorer than their peers at the same age, and a significantly higher number are likely to be unemployed or not in education or training. Younger siblings will be affected if older siblings leave, as they remain in care.
1.8

With effect from July 2014, there is a duty (under s. 22C of the Children Act 1989 (amended by the Children and Families Act 2014) imposed upon local authorities that where:

  • They are considering adoption for a child (this can be at an early stage, and can be before a decision has been made by the Agency Decision Maker that the child should be place for adoption); or
  • They are satisfied that the child ought to be placed for adoption, but do not yet have authority to place the child for adoption (either by way of parental consent or by way of Placement Order).

Then the local authority MUST consider placing the child with:

  • (Firstly) a relative, friend or Connected Person who is also a local authority foster carer; or
  • Where they decide that a placement with such a person is not the most appropriate placement for the child, they must consider placing the child with a local authority foster carer who has been approved as a prospective adopter (a 'dually approved carer').
See Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure.


2.  Obtaining Agency Approval to Adoption Plan

2.1

See “Adoption Panel & Agency Decision Making” - Liberi Guidance.

An Adoption Plan can only be started on Liberi from a Child in Care Review, through the IRO selecting the plan in the outcomes form. This triggers the child’s Permanence Report into the social worker’s work tray, and opens the adoption file (see Liberi Guidance “Adoption Pathway Flow-Chart” and Accountability and Delegation, Table of Decision Making/Makers.

Cases where the criteria apply for the local authority to apply for a Placement Order, i.e. the child is the subject of a Care Order or the Threshold Criteria for a Care Order are satisfied or where there is no parent or guardian, are not referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation, but will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision. All other cases (i.e. where the parents have given consent and there is no application for a Placement Order) will continue to be referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will take into account when making a decision.

As soon as adoption is the Permanence Plan for the child, the child's social worker must:
  • Ensure case notes on Liberi are selected from the Adoption hub. This will ensure the case note is only visible to authorised users (see ‘Case Notes – Child Going Through Adoption Process’ – Liberi Guidance;
  • Arrange a date for the case to be referred to the Adoption Panel (where the parents have given consent and there is no application for a Placement Order)
  • Or Agency Decision Maker (in all other cases);

    This date must be a maximum of 2 months from the date when the adoption plan was ratified at the child's Child in Care Review. Where this timescale is not met, the reason should be recorded;
  • Continue to provide counselling for the child - see Section 3, Preparation of Child for Adoption;
  • A family finder from the adoption service will be allocated within 2 working days of the referral being made.
2.2 The child's social worker must open an Adoption Case Record, using the Liberi adoption hub for the child 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. Where the plan relates to a group of siblings, there must be a separate Adoption Case Record, on the adoption hub, for each child.
2.3 If not already obtained, the child's social worker should obtain 7 certified copies of the child's full birth certificate. These will be required for future Court applications and for the prospective adopters.
2.4

The child's social worker should give both birth parents written information on adoption and ask them to sign confirmation of receipt, a copy of which should be kept on the child's Adoption Case Record and a further copy should be handed to the parents.

If either or both of the birth parents refuse to accept or do not receive the information, this should be recorded, with reasons, on the child's case record and Adoption Case Record. Where the parents' address is known, the child's social worker should personally deliver or arrange for delivery by hand of a copy of the information to the address and record this on the Adoption Case Record. See also Section 4, Counselling and Support of Parents.
2.5 If not already obtained, the child's social worker must seek the birth parents' consent to the disclosure of information on their medical history to facilitate the medical for the child - Forms M & B should also be sent to the hospital without delay, (for detailed procedures, see Section 5, Child's Adoption Medical).
2.6 The child's social worker must discuss with the parents their views on the adoption plan, and arrange the necessary counselling and support for both of the birth parents and any other significant relatives - see Section 4, Counselling and Support for Parents. If either or both of the parents decline or refuse counselling and/or support, then this should be recorded, including the reasons, in the child's electronic record and Adoption Case Record. A Referral to Connecting Adoptive Families in Kent should be made in all adoption cases. This is because the birth parent may respond to the offer of independent support from CAFIS.
2.7 Where one or both of the birth parents cannot be found, the child's social worker must make extensive enquiries as to their whereabouts. The social worker should write to the parent's last known address and contact the Department of Works and Pensions and other agencies (including the Council Tax Register, the Passport Office and the housing authority) as appropriate. Consideration should also be given to the need to place advertisements in the local and national press and legal advice should be sought as to any additional steps that should be taken.
2.8 The child's social worker must contact the child's health visitor or school health for current information in relation to the child's health and development.
2.9 The child's social worker must contact the child's school or the relevant local education service for current information in relation to the child's educational needs.
2.10 The child's social worker must ask the child's carer to complete the CR-C or CR-YP report on the child. (This will be required for the Child's Permanence Report - see Paragraph 2.13).
2.11

The child's social worker must ensure that the adoption plan addresses the issue of post-placement and post-adoption contact. This will include a possible meeting between the parents and the adopters, and whether there may be ongoing direct contact or indirect contact via a letterbox system - see Section 7, Post-placement Contact.

If the child has siblings, the plan must analyse the relationship between each child in the sibling group (see Forms Library) and, if the decision is to place siblings separately, address the issue of post-placement and post-adoption contact between them. (See Paragraph 1.7, Sibling Assessment). An early discussion should take place with Barnado's CAFIS if the contact may need support.
2.12 The child's social worker must also carry out an assessment of the likely needs for adoption support services in relation to the child, the birth parents and any other person with a significant relationship to the child. For the detailed procedures, see Adoption Support Procedure.
2.13

Using all the information obtained in relation to the above, the child's social worker must prepare the child's Permanence Report. The child's Permanence Report must be written by the social worker who knows the child best, who must also be a qualified social worker with suitable experience (see Adoption Panel Procedure).

The following areas must be included or addressed in the Report:

  • Profile of the child, based on a report from the child's current carer as well as other information about the child's personality, nationality, racial origin, religious persuasion, legal status and relationship with his/her birth family;
  • A summary, written by the agency’s medical adviser, of the state of the child’s health, health history and any need for health care which might arise in the future;
  • The child's wishes in relation to the adoption plan and his or her preferred method of communication;
  • A chronology of the child's life since birth;
  • The preparation work, undertaken and planned, with the child and the views of the child in relation to the adoption plan and future contact with his or her birth family;
  • The views of the Children's Guardian; using the Standard Letter to Guardian in the Forms Library;
  • The views of the birth family and significant others in relation to the adoption plan and contact and their opportunity to receive and comment on the report before the report is presented to the Adoption Decision Maker; if the CPR can't be shared with the birth parents, a copy should be sent to their legal representatives so that they can share it with birth parents;
  • A report of the child's educational history and current needs, including the Personal Education Plan (PEP);
  • Any other relevant specialist reports on the child;
  • An assessment of the child's emotional and behavioural development;
  • An assessment of the child's needs for post-placement and post-adoption contact, including with siblings, (see Paragraph 2.11) and the child's and birth relatives' needs for adoption support services;
  • A Chronology of the decisions and actions taken by the agency with respect to the child;
  • An analysis of the options for the child's future care giving detailed explanation of the arguments for and against each option and alternatives to adoption considered. This must be a balanced view and where experts' assessments are available, their contents and recommendations - even if not supportive of the adoption plan - should be included;
  • Where the child has siblings, whether the decision is to place siblings separately or together and the rationale for the decision (see Paragraph 1.7, Sibling Assessments);
  • Any other information which the agency considers relevant.

Those parts of the report that contain factual information about the birth family should be shared with the relevant family members to enable them to confirm their accuracy and agree to it being passed on to a child in due course. Any such agreement should be clearly recorded on the child’s case record. Each of the child’s parents should be shown those parts of the report which set out their views and wishes, and given the opportunity, if they so wish, to express these in their own words. Where appropriate, the relevant sections of the Report should also be provided to the child. The parents should be asked to sign the Report and provide any written comments they wish to make.

Once the child’s social worker has completed the child’s CPR there are two options on Liberi – ‘Proceed to Start a Panel Meeting’ or ‘Proceed to Agency Decision Maker (see Paragraph 2.1 and Liberi Guidance – Adoption Panel & Agency Decision Making).

2.14

Presentation to the Adoption Panel - consideration of child - adoption with consent

(Contested adoption cases see Paragraph 2.15, Referral Directly to Agency Decision Maker - Consideration of Child - Contested Adoptions below).

See Liberi Guidance – Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Making.

See Paragraph 2.1 for circumstances when the case will be referred to the Adoption Panel, and when the case will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Make (where cases are referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker, Paragraph 2.14 does not apply and the procedure is set out in 2.15 below).

This referral must take place within 6 weeks of the completion of the Child's Permanence Report.

To enable the Adoption Panel to consider whether the child is suitable to be placed for adoption, the child's social worker must present the following reports:

  1. A front sheet stating what is being reported, the reports included, the recommendations sought and who will be attending Adoption Panel;
  2. The Child's Permanence Report (including the Medical Adviser's comments) signed by the child's social worker, the manager and the parent (if willing), and a photograph of the child, together with the parents' written comments (if any);
  3. The child's health report and the health information obtained in relation to the parents (where the Medical Adviser so advises);
  4. Legal advice about parental consent and the option of seeking a Placement Order;
  5. Where experts' assessments are available (including where they have been filed in Court proceedings), their contents and recommendations - even if not supportive of the adoption plan - should be presented to the Panel/Agency Decision Maker. The full reports should be presented unless they are voluminous, in which case, as a minimum, those sections setting out the experts' opinion, conclusions and recommendations should be provided. A written summary of such reports should only be provided if all parties to the court proceedings agree in writing that the summary is fair and accurate. Copies of the full reports should be available for Panel members (at the panel meeting) and the Agency Decision Maker to consult if desired.

The child's social worker will send the relevant reports to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the relevant date of the Adoption Panel.

The child's social worker together with his or her manager if appropriate will attend the Panel meeting during consideration of the matter. Where a Children's Guardian has been appointed, consideration should be given to inviting the Children's Guardian to the Panel; however, there is no requirement upon the Panel to allow the children’s guardian to attend the Panel and make oral submissions. The report of the Children’s Guardian must not be disclosed without the leave of the court.

(N.B. Where the social worker is seeking a recommendation in relation to a proposed placement of the child with particular prospective adopters at the same time, the procedure set out in Section 9, Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents must also be followed).

The Panel will consider the written reports and any additional information presented verbally. The Panel will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker. Where the Panel recommends that the child should be placed for adoption, it must consider and may give advice as to future contact arrangements for the child and whether an application for a Placement Order should be made.

The recommendation and advice will be recorded in writing, together with reasons, in the Panel's minutes. A copy of the relevant minute must be held on the child's Adoption Case Record.

For cases which are presented to the Adoption Panel, the final minutes must be produced promptly and agreed by the Panel members and then sent to the Agency Decision Maker, together with the reports considered by the Panel, to allow the decision to be made within seven working days of receipt of the panel's recommendation and final set of panel minutes.

The Agency Decision Maker must record his or her decision in writing, together with reasons.

Where the Agency Decision Maker is minded to disagree with the Panel recommendation, he/she must first discuss the case with another senior officer with relevant experience, who must not be a Panel member. This discussion must be recorded and placed on the child's Adoption Case Record.

2.15

Referral directly to Agency Decision Maker Consideration of Child - Contested Adoptions

See Liberi Guidance - Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Making.

See Adoption Decision Making - ADM.

See Paragraph 2.1 for circumstances when the case will be referred to the Adoption Panel, and when the case will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker.

Where cases are to be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision, a time should be booked with the Agency Decision Maker for the decision to be made and this should be a maximum of 2 months from the date when the adoption plan was ratified at the child's Child in Care Review. In order for the decision to be made within this timescale, the Agency Decision Maker should be sent the same reports and information as would be submitted to the Adoption Panel, as set out in Paragraph 2.14, Presentation to the Adoption Panel.

The child’s social worker should give contact details to the Agency Adviser, to ensure they can answer any questions from the Agency Decision Maker, at the pre-arranged time when the decision is to be made.

The child's social worker will send the relevant reports to the Agency Adviser at least 10 working days before the relevant date booked with the Agency Decision Maker. In situations where assessments arrive after the Agency Decision Maker has considered the case, the child’s social worker must ensure the ADM is aware.

The Agency Adviser will be responsible for checking the quality of the reports before they are submitted to the Agency Decision Maker.

In making the decision the Agency Decision Maker may discuss the case with the Agency Adviser, Medical Adviser and legal adviser. However, there is no provision for adjourning the decision to allow time for taking advice. NB The Agency Decision Maker is expressly prohibited from referring a case to the Adoption Panel for advice.

The principles of the decision-making should be as set out in Adoption Panel Procedure, Agency Decision Maker.

2.16

After the Decision

The parents will be informed orally of the agency's decision within two working days and written confirmation should be sent to them within five working days. The written confirmation will be sent on behalf of the Agency Decision Maker by the Central Adoption Team.

The letter setting out the agency decision will be sent by recorded delivery, except where delivery by hand has been agreed as appropriate, in which case the letter will be forwarded to the social worker for delivery by hand.

The child's social worker will also ensure that the child is informed of the decision in a timely and age-appropriate way.

In cases where the case has been presented to the Adoption Panel and the decision is different from the Panel's recommendation, a copy of the Panel minute should also be sent to the parents.
2.17 Where the Designated Manager has made a decision to seek a Placement Order in relation to the child, the child's social worker should consult Legal Services in order to prepare the Court application. The child's social worker should inform the child's Independent Reviewing Officer of the Court timetable including when the placement application is filed. NB Local authorities cannot make applications for Placement Orders until it has been decided by the Agency Decision Maker that the child is suitable to be placed for adoption. See Paragraph 8.17, Court Orders in Adoption.
2.18 Where there is parental consent to the child's adoptive placement and/or advance parental consent to the child's adoption, and the child is more than 6 weeks old, the child's social worker must arrange for a written request to be sent to CAFCASS to appoint an officer to witness the consent. Where there is parental consent to the child's placement and the child is less than 6 weeks old, the social worker should ask the parents to sign a written agreement in the prescribed form to facilitate an early placement.
2.19

The social worker should send to the CAFCASS office closest to the parents' address, a certified copy of the child's birth certificate, the name and address of the parent, a chronology of the actions and decisions made by the local authority and confirmation that the parents have received counselling and written information on the legal implications of giving consent to the placement/adoption.

Where the child lives in Wales, the request should be forwarded to the Welsh National Assembly.
2.20 On receipt of the parent's consent witnessed by the CAFCASS officer, the original must be placed on the child's Adoption Case Record (as it will be required for the future adoption application).


3. Preparation of Child for Adoption

3.1 The child's social worker will ensure that Life Story Work (see Life Story Book Guidance) with the child continues with the aim as far as possible that:
  • The child has an understanding of the reasons for the adoption plan and what adoption will mean;
  • The child has an opportunity to express his or her wishes and feelings about the future; and
  • The child has information on his or her birth family, which is kept safe and provided to the adopters and the child at the appropriate time.

As part of the above, the child will be given a Children's Guide to Adoption as soon as adoption is part of the child's Care Plan. Any information given to the child should be confirmed in writing and any discussions with the child should be fully recorded. The child's preferred method of communication should be known and there should be no assumption that a child is unable to communicate. An interpreter should be arranged where necessary to ensure that there is effective communication with the child.

The social worker should specifically ensure that the child's wishes in relation to adoption, religious and cultural upbringing and contact with his or her birth family are ascertained.

Where a child's wishes are not acted upon, for example a child's wish to be placed with his or her siblings, this should be explained to the child, with reasons, and should be fully recorded.
3.2 The foster carers' supervising social worker will support the foster carers in playing their part in the implementation of the plan, including careful recording by the foster carers of any changes in the child's behaviour. 
3.3

Once an adoptive placement has been identified and approved, the child's social worker is responsible for ensuring the child is properly prepared for the first meeting with the prospective adoptive family and is appropriately counselled during the period of introductions - see Section 10, Planning the Placement.

As part of the preparation of the child for the adoptive placement, information will be provided to ensure that (s)he has a proper understanding about the accommodation and others living at the prospective adoptive home, the contact arrangements with the birth family and how to contact his or her social worker.
3.4 The child's social worker will encourage the parents to write their own 'Later Life' letter for the child, and to provide information to enable the social worker to write the 'Later Life' letter for the child (to give to the adopters) within 10 working days of adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order.


4. Counselling and Support for Parents

4.1 Kent County Council has contracted with Barnardo's, to provide the Connecting Adoptive Families Independent Service (CAFIS):
  • An independent counselling and support service for birth parents whose children are in care by KCC and are the subject of adoption plans;
  • A counselling and advice service for birth relatives of adopted children/adults;
  • A post-adoption contact service for adoption and Special Guardianship;
  • An access to birth records service.

Adoption support services to adoptive families and children living in Kent are provided by the Adoption Support and Special Guardianship Team (ASGST), both pre- and post-placement. Every effort is made to identify the whereabouts of an absent birth parent including internet searches using identifying information and 192.com internet search process.

The present parent is asked to sign a statement to confirm that all known contact details have been shared with the social worker. This will include any information arising from their use of social media.
4.2 The child's social worker must explain to both parents (including a parent without Parental Responsibility) the reasons for the adoption plan and the key stages of the adoption process, including the likely time-scales and possible contact arrangements; in addition the social worker should provide them with written information on the adoption process covering the areas set out in Paragraph 4.7 a) to g), l) and m) below and this should be recorded.
4.3

If either or both of the birth parents refuse to accept or do not receive the written information, this should be recorded, including the reasons, on the child's case file and Adoption Case Record.

Where the parents' address is known, the child's social worker should personally deliver or arrange for delivery by hand of a copy of the information to the address and record this on the Adoption Case Record.
4.4 The child's social worker must also seek to ascertain the parent's views on the matters set out in Paragraph 4.7, h) and k) below and offer to arrange independent support for both birth parents (including unmarried fathers). The purpose of the support is to ensure that the alternatives to adoption have been explored and the implications of adoption fully discussed. It also offers the parents the opportunity to express their views in relation to the plans for the child, and to be involved in planning for the child's future wherever possible. The social worker should make the necessary arrangements for a referral for independent support to be made. CAFIS will then contact the birth parent to offer support.
4.5 The support may need to be provided by a specialist worker, for example where the parent has poor mental health or learning disabilities. If so, the social worker should ensure that an appropriate resource is identified.
4.6 The specific needs of parents arising from their ethnicity must always be taken into account. An interpreter must be arranged where English is not their preferred language.
4.7

The counselling and support will cover the following areas:

  1. Explaining the key stages of the adoption process and likely time-scales;
  2. Explaining, where appropriate, the procedure for seeking a Placement Order;
  3. Explaining the parents' legal rights to apply for a Contact Order;
  4. Explaining the role of the Adoption Panel/Agency Decision Maker;
  5. Explaining the role of CAFCASS in witnessing consent or acting as the Children's Guardian;
  6. Explaining the way the Adoption Contact Register works and how an adopted adult may seek information about the birth family in the future or register a wish not to be contacted;
  7. Explaining how prospective adoptive parents are assessed;
  8. Ascertaining the parents' views on the adoption plan, including the selection of the adoptive family, any specific ethnic, cultural or religious needs of the child, and any plan to separate a sibling group. Their views on these issues should be recorded;
  9. Dealing with grief and loss;
  10. Where there is parental consent to the adoption, explaining the process for giving their written consent to an adoptive placement or advance consent to the adoption (including the role of CAFCASS), their right to state that they do not wish to be informed of an adoption application, and that they have the right to withdraw their consent to an adoptive placement at any time up to the making of an adoption application, but the restriction of their rights to do so after an adoption application has been made;
  11. Ascertaining the parents' views on post-placement and post-adoption contact including whether they would wish to meet the adoptive family and if so, how they might prepare for this;
  12. Providing information to the parents on national and local support groups, and other possible sources of help;
  13. Explaining how the parents may be able to provide information to be passed to adopters, for example, on the child's birth and early life, which may be of benefit to the child.
4.8 The parents should be encouraged to seek legal advice particularly where they are opposed to the adoption plan. Where there is an unmarried father without Parental Responsibility, the social worker should also ascertain if he intends to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order and a Child Arrangements Order.
4.9 The parents and their solicitors, if appropriate, must be sent copies of any written consents and/or recording of their views.
4.10 Where the parents refuse or decline to accept counselling and/or support, the child's social worker must record the attempts made to persuade the parents and the reasons for their refusal in the child's file and Adoption Case Record.
4.11 Where a parent is seeking to have an expected child adopted, the counselling must start before the baby's birth. In addition, the child's social worker must cover practical tasks such as the arrangements for the birth, the parent's own contact with the child after the birth, the intended length of the mother's hospital stay and their wishes regarding the timing of the placement. After the child's birth, the counselling and support must continue. The social worker should then confirm with the parents that they still wish to pursue adoption for the child.
4.12 The social worker should arrange for photographs to be taken of the child and, if they agree, the parents and other significant people and places, for inclusion in the child's Life Story Book.


5. Child's Adoption Medical

See Guidance on Health Assessments and Health Plans, Child's Adoption Medical.


6. Changing the Child’s Name on or After Placement with Prospective Adopters

6.1 On the making of an Adoption Order, the adopter(s) obtain parental responsibility for the child and the parental responsibility of all other persons is extinguished (s 46(1), (2) Adoption and Children Act (ACA) 2002). From this point on the adopter(s) are in the position of the child’s birth parents in so far as naming the child i.e. where they act jointly they have the absolute right to name and rename their child – this applies to first names and surnames.
6.2 However, the position is different before an adoption order is made. Although prospective adopters obtain parental responsibility for a child who is placed with them with parental consent under s 19 ACA 2002 or under a placement order (s 25(2), (3) ACA 2002), there are limits to their ability to exercise that parental responsibility in some areas, including in relation to changing the child’s name. Where a placement order is in place, no person may cause a child to be known by a new surname without the written consent of each parent or guardian of the child or the permission of the court (section 28(2), (3) ACA 2002).
6.3 In a case where a child is being placed under s 19 ACA 2002, if it felt to be in the child’s best interests for his or her surname to be changed prior to the making of an adoption order, the consent of the parent(s) (with parental responsibility) and any guardian should be sought. If consent is not forthcoming, the local authority must consider making an application for permission to change the child’s surname under section 28(2) ACA 2002. The local authority will need to provide clear evidence as to why it is considered on the facts of the particular case to be in the child’s best interests to be known by a new surname prior to the making of an adoption order. Any view expressed by the child will be of particular significance.
6.4 In a case where the local authority is applying for a placement order, if it is felt to be in the child’s best interest for his or her surname to be changed prior to the making of an adoption order, the local authority can make an application under section 28(2) ACA 2002 at the same time as applying for a placement order. If permission is not sought at that stage and the local authority subsequently reaches a conclusion that it is in the child’s best interests to be known by a new surname, a free-standing application under section 28(2) ACA 2002 would need to be sought (assuming that the parent(s) and any guardian do not consent to the change of surname).
6.5 An application to allow a child to be known by a new surname is not an application which should be routinely made; however, there are cases where as a result of the particular circumstances of a child or the prospective adopters, it is considered to be in the best interests of the child to be known by a new surname prior to the making of an Adoption Order. Such an order will usually only be made if there is a perceived risk to the security of the adoptive placement and/or the child in the event that the surname is not changed as the birth parents, or others, are likely to make attempts to (and may be able to) locate the child. The child’s social worker, having consulted with the family finding team, should take advice from the solicitor dealing with the care/placement proceedings in this regard.
6.6 In relation to a child’s first name(s), there is no statutory prohibition preventing a child being known by a different first name. Case law recognises that while surnames are of particular significance insofar as they denote the family to which the child belongs, given names “have a much less concrete character than surnames” and that it is commonplace for a child to receive different given names during their childhood. “During the course of family life, as a child develops personality and individuality, parents or other members of the family, maybe attracted to some nickname or some alternative given name which will then adhere, possibly for the rest of the child’s life, or possibly only until the child’s individuality and maturity allow it to make a choice for itself as to the name by which he or she wishes to be known” (per Thorpe LJ in Re H (child’s name: first name) [2002] EWCA Civ 190).
6.7 However, it would not be appropriate in the majority of cases for prospective adopters to use a different first name for a child who has been placed with them prior to an adoption order being made. Notwithstanding the observations of Thorpe LJ in Re H, a child’s first name is an important part of their identity and the decision to change it is a significant one especially where the change is made to mark the leaving of one family and the joining of another. Social workers should discuss with prospective adopters their reasons for wishing to change a child’s first name prior to an adoption order being made if they express a wish to do so. The appropriateness of such a decision in any individual case will depend on the age and understanding and wishes of the child in question and on what is deemed to be the best interest of the child.


7. Post-placement Contact

7.1

The child's social worker must undertake a written assessment as to the best interests of the child to support any contact proposals as part of an adoption plan, or reasons why no contact is recommended. This assessment will take account of the views of the child, the parents, the foster carers and any other significant family members, as well as evidence of attachment and the quality of relationships, based on observations of contact and the child's behaviour before, during and after contact.

Where any post adoption contact over and above an annual letterbox exchange is planned, Barnardo’s CAFIS must be consulted at the earliest opportunity regarding any support that may be needed. Any face to face contact arrangements which have budgetary implications (i.e. over twice per annum, or where Barnardo’s have exceeded their agreed quota for the year) must be considered by the Area Resource Panel.

7.2 Where there is a sibling group, each child must be assessed separately and together as a group.
7.3 The assessment should determine whether post-placement and post-adoption contact between the child and the parents and/or siblings would be in the child's best interests, and if so, what form it should take. The nature and frequency of contact will be influenced by the need to maintain attachments and/or long-term identity issues.
7.4 Post-placement and post-adoption contact may take the following forms:
  1. Adoptive parents providing non-identifying information about the child to the birth family through letter-box contact organised and maintained by the Adoption Service (one way indirect contact);
  2. Adoptive parents and the birth family sharing non-identifying information about themselves through letter-box contact organised and maintained by the Adoption Service (two way indirect contact);
  3. Direct letter box and/or telephone contact between the adoptive parents and the birth family;
  4. Direct face-to-face contact between the child and the birth family, which may be organised and maintained by the adoption service, where such continuing support is appropriate.
7.5 Any proposed post-placement and post-adoption contact should be in line with any Court Orders.
7.6

Where post-placement and post-adoption contact is considered to be in the child's interests, it should be part of the information shared with prospective adoptive parents during the matching process - see Section 8, Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter Agency Placements) and also part of the planning of the placement - see Section 10, Planning the Placement.

Any plans for face to face contact arrangements with siblings or birth relatives need to be discussed with CAFIS so that they are able to advise on arrangements and any costs.

When making an Adoption Order, or at any time afterwards, the court may (upon application or on its own initiative) make an order for contact with, or an order prohibiting contact with, the person(s) named in the order. Such orders have effect until the child's 18th birthday, unless revoked sooner.

An order for contact requires the adopter to allow the child to visit, stay with or otherwise have contact with, the person named in the order.

The following people may be named in an order:

  • The child;
  • The Agency;
  • Any person who (but for the child's adoption) would be related to the child by blood (including half-blood), marriage or civil partnership;
  • Any former guardian of the child;
  • Any person who had Parental Responsibility for the child immediately before the making of the Adoption Order;
  • Any person with whom the child has lived for a period of at least one year (this period need not be continuous, but must be within the last 5 years);
  • Any person who had a previous order for contact under Children Act 1989, which order ceased to have effect upon the agency being authorised to place the child for adoption;
  • Any person who had a Child Arrangements Order (previously Residence Order) immediately before the agency was authorised to place the child for adoption;
  • Any person who had care of the child under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court immediately before the agency was authorised to place the child for adoption.

The adopters or the child may apply without the leave of the court, whilst any other person, including the child's birth parents and other birth relatives, e.g. grandparents or siblings, would need the court's leave to apply.

In deciding whether to grant leave to apply, the court must consider:

  • Any risk there might be of the proposed application disrupting the child's life to such an extent that s/he would be harmed by it (within the meaning of the 1989 Act);
  • The applicant's connection with the child; and
  • Any representations made to the court by the child and/or the adopter/prospective adopter.

Orders may contain directions about how they are to take effect, or may be made subject to such conditions as the court thinks appropriate.

The court will issue a timetable and directions with the aim of resolving the application without delay.

Applications prohibiting contact are unlikely to be necessary in the majority of cases and are only likely to be appropriate to stop unwanted, unsolicited and potentially harmful contact with the child, or to prevent such contact happening.

The circumstances in which a birth parent, relative or other person are most likely to seek the court's leave to apply for an order for contact after adoption are where an agreement for some form of continuing contact had been made, but was not adhered to.

Application can be made to the court to vary or revoke such orders, by the child, adopter or person named in the order.


8. Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter Agency Placements)

Please refer to "Family Finding and Adoption Marching - Liberi Guidance.

See also Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure.

The adoption agency has a duty to identify prospective adopters as soon as reasonably practicable. Family finding should begin as soon as adoption is under consideration, and before the Agency Decision Maker decides that the child should be placed for adoption or a Placement Order is made.

In determining whether a prospective adopter may be suitable to adopt the child, an assessment must be made of the ability of the prospective adopter to meet the needs of the child throughout childhood.

Consideration must be given as to whether there are suitable carers available under the Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure.

The overall time-scale for matching a child with a prospective adoptive family is:

  • The match is to be identified, recommended by the Adoption Panel and approved within 6 months of the agency's formal approval that the child is suitable to be placed for adoption, except in the following cases;
  • Where a parent requests adoption for a child of less than six months of age, the match is to be identified, recommended by the Adoption Panel and approved within 3 months of the agency's formal approval that the child is suitable to be placed for adoption.
8.1 Following the identification of the family finder (see Paragraph 2.1), the timing of the start of the family finding will depend on the legal position and be agreed between the child's social worker and the family finder.
8.2

The child's social worker and the family finder will address the following issues:

Family Finder:

  1. The preparation of the child’s profile and to identify any other information about the child, which is needed in order to identify a suitable family (including risk assessment, see below);
  2. To arrange preparation of a DVD and suitable photographs of the child, to assist in family finding;
  3. The family finder will consider whether there are any potentially suitable in-house approved families (including families going through the assessment process) by sharing the child’s profile with the Adoption Service and reading copies of any available Prospective adopters reports;
  4. Whether there are siblings who have been adopted, and, if so, whether this could be a potential adoptive family;
  5. To shortlist potential adoptive families, and send the PARS to the child’s social worker;
  6. Share as much information as legally permissible (see below) about the child with prospective adopters prior to visiting, and ensuring this is shared in a sensitive and appropriate manner.
8.3

The Child’s social worker will complete:

  1. A written risk assessment of any potential geographical or other risks that may arise in selection of a placement;
  2. Preparation of the child, (including use of the age appropriate Children’s Guide – link) and how the child may be involved in and express views about the process of finding a family;
  3. Parental involvement in the placement process (and parental consent to advertising, if applicable);
  4. To consider, in consultation with their manager, fostering, and the IRO, whether or not the child's current carer would be appropriate as a prospective permanent placement and to arrange a Permanency Planning meeting (see Permanence Planning Guidance). If it is agreed that the application should progress the foster carer will be asked to formally apply in writing to the Head of the Adoption Service (see Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure);
  5. Keep Legal Services informed of developments and seek the Court's leave to early family finding and profiling of the child where Court proceedings are ongoing:
    1. In terms of the process to seek the court’s permission to share information, it would be advisable for the child’s social worker to consider at an early stage in each case the requirements in regard to early family finding and whether it may be appropriate to seek to share identifying information about the child with prospective adopters and/or to refer the child to the National Adoption Register prior to a placement order being granted. The child’s social worker should liaise with an early family finding social worker and with the solicitor allocated to the case to identify whether this is a child for which this would be appropriate. Further advice on ‘Sharing Information prior to a placement order being made’ is available from Kent County Council’s legal team;
    2. Cases where it may be appropriate to share identifying information with prospective adopters or to refer the child to the National Adoption Register because it may be difficult to identify prospective adopters for a child may include (but are not limited to):
      • Where the child has a physical disability or a learning disability;
      • Where the child an older child;
      • Where it is proposed that children be placed for adoption in a sibling group.
    3. It may also be appropriate to seek permission to share identifying information with prospective adopters in cases where prospective adopters have been identified at an early stage and the local authority wishes to proceed with a match very quickly following the making of a placement order in the event that a placement order is made; 
    4. Cases where it may be appropriate to share information with prospective adopters because the local authority wishes to a match very quickly following the making of a placement order may include (but are not limited to):
      • Where the child is placed with foster carers who are also approved as prospective adopters;
      • Where adopters for a sibling of the child have expressed an interest in adopting this child.
    5. In the event that a child’s social worker (following discussion with his or her manager) has identified that it would be appropriate to seek to share identifying information about the child with prospective adopters and/or refer the child to the National Adoption Register prior to a placement order being made, he or she should raise this with the solicitor with conduct of the proceedings as soon as possible so that consideration can be given to obtaining the consent of the parents to this course of action and to seeking the court’s permission to share information. Although it is possible to canvass the views of the other parties about seeking an order in relation to the sharing of information with prospective adopters or the National Adoption Register at an early stage, such an application should not be made unless and until the Agency Decision Maker has made a decision that adoption is the appropriate plan for the child. The application could be made at the same time as a placement order is issued;
    6. The solicitor with conduct of the proceedings should discuss the proposal to share information with the parties to the proceedings in order to ascertain their views and, if possible, obtain their consent. If all parties consent to the making of an order giving permission to the local authority to share information for the purpose of identifying prospective adopters (which could include making a referral to the National Adoption Register) then this could be done by submitting a consent order to court without the need to have a hearing at court, unless the court is of the view that a hearing should in fact be listed to hear the matter and decide upon the issue;
    7. If the other parties in the proceedings do not consent to an order being made giving permission to the local authority to share information, the local authority will need to make a formal application by completing a Form C2 and prepare a statement of evidence in support (to be completed by the child’s social worker). The statement in support should include the following:
      • Why the local authority considers it necessary to share information about the child prior to a placement order being made;
      • What information it proposes to share (for example, names, dates of birth, photographs, any medical reports, a DVD with the child’s profile, the child permanence report etc.);
      • Who the information will be shared with (for example, any prospective adopters or the National Adoption Register).
    8. The application Form C2 and statement of evidence in support will need to be lodged with the court by the solicitor with conduct of the proceedings. This will incur a filing fee (£50 if the application is made by consent and £155 if the application is not made by consent). The application may then be listed for determination at the next scheduled hearing, or it may be necessary to request that the court lists the application for a discrete hearing, depending on the circumstances of each individual case.

Family finder and child’s social worker:

  1. To consider whether or not the child’s current carer would be appropriate as a prospective permanent placement (see above);
  2. To plan the family finding work, giving consideration to the availability of in-house approved families;
  3. Whether authorisation should be sought from the Head of Adoption for inter-agency funding will be necessary and advertising for families in the national, local and specialist media;
  4. The family finder will produce the child’s profile in consultation with the child’s social worker, identifying the child’s needs;
  5. The family finder will produce the child’s profile in consultation with the child’s social worker, identifying the child’s needs;
  6. To consider profiling of the child at National Adoption Exchanges; Kent Adoption Service Family Finding Events, South East Regional Consortium events;
  7. To agree time-scales for the family finding work including the holding of progress meetings;
  8. To refer to the Adoption Register.
8.4 Up to two families should be visited jointly by the family finder and the child’ social worker within 5 working days of the family being identified or the Placement Order being granted (whichever is later). Foster carers should not accompany the social workers at the first visit. In circumstances where it is felt necessary for the adopter’s social worker to visit at the same time, authorisation must be gained from the adoption assessment team manager. The visiting social workers should be clear with prospective adopters when a number of families are under consideration.
8.5 The initial selection should be through discussion between the family finding social worker, child care social worker and adoption social worker as appropriate. The decision regarding which link should be progressed, should take place within 2 working days of the visits, unless there are concerns or areas to be explored needing further discussion with the Adoption Social Worker. The child’s social worker must discuss the selection with their team manager, and the discussion recorded on the Adoption Hub (see Liberi guidance). Clear reasons for the decision should be recorded on the adopter’s record. The adopters must be kept fully informed of the next steps and timescales.
8.6 If the family finder and the child’s social worker are not able to agree which link should be progressed due to difference of views, a discussion should take place with the team or Service managers (Child Care and Adoption), in consultation with the IRO, to agree a way forward.
8.7 If, following the visits, it is felt that the families are on an equal footing a matching meeting should be convened, within 10 working days of the agreement for the link to be progressed, to be chaired by an adoption team manager. The adoption social workers, child’s social worker, fostering social worker, family finder, the child’s IRO, and VSK should be invited. The foster carer will be invited for part of the meeting. However the meeting should not be delayed is there are difficulties with availability. The meeting will be quorate if the adoption social workers, child’s social workers, fostering social worker and the family finder are available. See templates for matching and selection. The purpose of the meeting is to decide on which family is to go ahead to the matching panel (if either). The decision should be deferred if further information is needed.
8.8 Where a family is ruled out for the potential match then they must be informed verbally within one working day. Families must be informed in no more than one day if there are further issues to consider.
8.9 Where one suitable approved adoptive family is identified from those visited, the family finder will arrange a Matching Meeting, within 10 working days of agreement for the link to be progressed, involving the child's social worker, the social worker's manager, the family finding adoption worker, the adopter’s social worker, the foster carer and their fostering support worker. Having discussed with their manager, the family finding social worker will chair the meeting. The purpose of the matching meeting is to formally confirm if the match is to go to the adoption panel.
8.10 Critical information about the child’s health and emotional needs is to be shared at key points in the process. Post selection and prior to the matching meeting the family finder will provide the linked prospective adopters with full information on the child, including the Child's Permanence Report, the Guardian’s analysis, a full description of the birth family including any siblings and the reasons for any decision to place the child separately.
8.11 Sharing documents from care/placement proceedings with prospective adopters
 

The Family Procedure Rules 2010 (FPR), part 12, chapter 7 deals with the communication of information (whether or not contained in a document filed with the court) in proceedings which relate to children i.e. proceedings under the CA 1989 as well as proceedings relating to the exercise of the court’s inherent jurisdiction and proceedings under the European Convention, the Council Regulation and the 1996 Hague Convention. Those provisions are largely mirrored in relation to adoption, placement and related proceedings under the ACA 2002 by FPR 2010, part 14, rule 14.4.

In short, these rules provide that information from proceedings relating to children which are held in private can only be communicated to a limited range of persons and bodies for specific purposes as set out in the FPR and the associated practice directions or with the permission of the court.

Prospective adopters are not included in the lists of persons in the FPR to whom information can be disclosed. Therefore, if the local authority wishes to disclose specific documents which have been filed in care and/or placement proceedings to prospective adopters, permission must be sought from the court.

The child’s social worker, in consultation with the family finding team, should identify prior to the final hearing of the care/placement proceedings whether there are any key reports or other documents which they consider would assist prospective adopters in understanding the history and specific needs of a child or sibling group who may be placed with them and which might assist any prospective adopter with whom a child is placed to fully understand and meet the child’s needs. Legal advice should be sought from the solicitor dealing with the care/placement proceedings in this regard.

In many cases, there will not be any need to disclose specific documents from the care/placement proceedings as the CPR will provide the prospective adopters with all the information they need. In some cases, however, such disclosure might be appropriate. For example, prospective adopters might be assisted by having access to an expert assessment filed in the proceedings by a psychologist or psychiatrist which provides detailed advice about the type of therapeutic care a child will need to overcome emotional or behavioural or other psychological difficulties. In a case where prospective adopters are considering accepting placement of a sibling group, it might assist them to have sight of a comprehensive sibling assessment which has been filed in the proceedings. Other examples of documents which might be of assistance include medical reports relating to children and copies of the final analysis and recommendations of the children’s guardian and, in some situations, copies of a fact-finding or final judgment. These documents may be summarised in the CPR but it is unlikely that detailed information will be set out in the CPR, particularly if the expert reports or assessments have been provided the agency decision maker in addition to the CPR when the decision has been made about whether adoption is the right plan for the child.

In all cases where disclosure of documents filed in proceedings is being sought, consideration should be given as to whether there is any need to redact any information contained in a report to protect the confidentiality of third parties. If, for example, there is information in a report about the birth parents that it is not appropriate to share with prospective adopters this can be redacted from the version of the report that is provided to prospective adopters.  Redactions may need to be approved by the court and/or agreed with the other parties to the court proceedings.

There will not usually be any need for the local authority to make a formal application for leave to disclose documents from care/placement proceedings to prospective adopters where that application is being made at the conclusion of the proceedings. A list of suggested documents to be disclosed to prospective adopters can be included in the local authority’s final case summary/position statement and discussed by the parties at the hearing.

8.12 The child's medical history (including the birth details), the carer's report on the child, the current school reports and the child's PEP. The items provided should be clearly recorded and the prospective adopters should be asked to sign confirmation of receipt of this information, and sign the confidentiality agreement. The potential adoptive family may meet the Medical Advisor prior to the matching meeting.
8.13

The matching meeting should consider:

  • The preparation of the child, including use of the A Children’s Guide to Adoption Support (as age appropriate)the present carers and the prospective adopters for the proposed placement, including the sharing of information with the prospective adopters;
  • The views of the prospective adopters on the information they have received;
  • The preparation of the birth family and the information to be given;
  • Meeting with the Medical Advisor;
  • The allocation of preparatory tasks for the introductory work;
  • The proposed Adoption Support Plan and any proposed contact arrangements;
  • The designated roles and responsibilities for completing the Adoption Placement Report and the proposed Adoption Support Plan.
8.14 The relevant adoption assessment social workers for the family/families concerned will inform the selected family and the unsuccessful families of the decision, together with reasons, on the same day as the meeting. They will also offer follow up discussions as required.
8.15 Should the matching meeting not agree on whether the potential family is to be taken forward then the team managers and then escalated to the Service Manager and the Head of Adoption must be consulted.
8.16 The case should be presented to the adoption panel within 20 working days from the initial visit to the prospective adopters.

8.17

Court Orders in Adoption

Matching considerations - Ethnicity must not be placed above everything else when identifying potential adopters for children.

It is unacceptable for a child to be denied adoptive parents solely on the grounds that the child and prospective adopter do not share the same racial or cultural background.

If a prospective adopter can meet most of the child's needs, but, for example they do not share the child's racial or cultural background, the core issue is what qualities, experiences and attributes the prospective adopter can draw on and their level of understanding of the discrimination and racism the child may be confronted with when growing up, at both an individual and institutional level. A prospective adopter can be matched with a child with whom they do not share the same ethnicity, if they can respect, reflect or actively develop a child's racial identity from the point they are matched and as they develop throughout their childhood. The prospective adopter needs to demonstrate that they fully understand that having a child from a different ethnic group will present a number of challenges, not least that there may be visible differences that can affect a child's self-esteem and increase their possible feelings of difference. For example, the child may have to deal with questions from their peers about why they are 'different' to their family.

With effect from July 2014, by virtue of the Children and Families Act 2014, adoption agencies no longer have to give due consideration to a child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background when matching a child and prospective adopters.

When a child has developed a sense of his or her culture or religion, and where he or she has already begun to speak a language other than English, it is important to find prospective adopters who, while not necessarily sharing any of these, are willing and able to help the child develop these important elements of their future identity.

Where a child is very young, particularly when still in infancy, it is important not to make assumptions about religion, culture or language and these should not be imposed on a very young child. A sense of one's culture is developed over time and it should not be assumed that an infant possesses a cultural, linguistic or religious background. These issues can be explored with the child as he or she grows up and a sensitive prospective adopter will encourage the child, if he or she wishes to do so, to probe these aspects of their birth parents' background. All prospective adopters should help children placed with them to understand and appreciate their background and, particularly in the case of older children, their religion, linguistic or cultural background, for example, celebrating cultural or religious festivals. Prospective adopters should be able to access support, education and training to strengthen their skills together with their knowledge and understanding of the child's birth heritage, to help the child develop a healthy racial and adoptive identity.

Adoption by child’s current foster carers

See also Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters Procedure, Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters.
8.18

Where foster carers express an interest in adopting a child they are looking after, and there is an adoption plan for the child, the child’s social worker will organise a permanency planning meeting to consider the request and resolve any issues, for example financial implications, possible separation of siblings etc. The Independent Reviewing officer, family finder, fostering social worker, and foster carer (for part of the meeting) to be invited. The chair of the meeting will be the Service Manager or his/her nominee.  This will be followed by a visit to the carers by the family finder and the child’s social worker. 

If the outcome of the meeting is that the foster carers appear to be able to meet the child's essential needs, the Chair will request the foster carer to put this in writing to both the Chair and the Head of Adoption - the request must be dated and signed by the applicant(s) (the date of signature will be taken as the formal application date).

The case will be allocated for an assessment of the foster carers as adopters to proceed (see Recruitment, Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure).

Foster carers who have cared for a child for over a year, may be eligible, when it is considered to meet the child’s needs for permanency (usually children aged 8 and over but other cases can be considered in line with the Protocols), to adopt under the Staying Together Scheme (see Staying Together Policy).

If they are approved as adopters, the requirements set out in Section 9, Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents as to the approval of the matching and in Section 11, The Placement as to the provision of information and notification of the placement must be followed.

If the outcome of the meeting is that the foster carers are not able to meet the child's essential needs, the recruitment of adopters as set out in the preceding and following paragraphs of this chapter will apply. The foster carers' supervising worker will provide support and counselling to the foster carers as appropriate.

If the foster carers decide to proceed with an application to adopt the child without the agreement of the agency, the procedure set out in Non-Agency Adoptions will apply.
8.19

Inter-Agency Placements

The Head of Adoption will ensure that consideration is given to all options for placement which will include referrals to Adoption Register, and communication channels (for example through publicity in the specialist or wider press) according to the identified needs of the child. It should be borne in mind that the most suitable family may be one that has been approved by another agency. If no in house or consortium placement is available then inter agency funding must be agreed following the making of the placement order after the Agency Decision. The case must be monitored to ensure that measures are taken to change plans if necessary.
8.20 Where it is considered that a placement of the child with overseas adopters would be appropriate, see Section 13, Adoptive Placements Abroad.
8.21

Where recruitment of adopters from another agency has been authorised, the family finder will undertake the following:

  • Check that either the parents (for an Accommodated child) and/or the child's social worker's manager have signed the Consent to Publicity Form and/or the Court's leave has been granted where Court proceedings are ongoing;
  • Arrange for professional photographs to be taken of the child for publicity purposes;
  • Agree with the child's social worker which publications are to be used for publicity purposes, and draw up suitable profiles.
8.22 Other members of the Adoption Service as well as the child's social worker should be made aware of the dates of the publicity and a response to callers should be agreed. The child’s social worker should inform the birth parents of this publicity.
8.23 Responses from families not yet approved should be dealt with as follows:
  1. Take details of the family;
  2. Give limited, anonymised information about the child, in order to help the caller decide whether this is a situation they wish to pursue;
  3. Give general information about the adoption and family finding process, bearing in mind that the caller has not gone through the assessment and preparation process;
  4. Arrange a more appropriate time to hold or continue the discussion, as appropriate;
  5. If, on the basis of the discussions held, it is not considered appropriate, having regard to the needs of the child, to pursue the response, the caller should be advised of the decision, with reasons, and provided with contact details of other agencies which may be of help to them.
8.24 Responses from already approved families should be dealt with as follows:
  1. Take details of the family;
  2. Give limited, anonymised information about the child, in order to help the caller decide whether this is a situation they wish to pursue;
  3. Give general information about how the family finding is being conducted, bearing in mind that the family's own agency may approach this in a different way;
  4. If, on the basis of the discussions held, it is not considered appropriate, having regard to the needs of the child, to pursue the response, the caller should be advised of the decision, with reasons;
  5. If the family is considered suitable, their details and the names of their agency and link worker should be taken. The family should be asked to inform their link worker of their approach to the borough and that the family finder will contact the link worker;
  6. The family finder should then contact the family's link worker and share information about the child and the family. Where it is considered that the match is not appropriate, the family's link worker should be asked to discuss this with the family and the family finder need take no further action;
  7. If it is considered that the link should be pursued, the adoptive family's link worker and the family finder should agree to exchange the Prospective Adopter's Report and the Child's Permanence Report, with a follow up discussion after they have been read.

    The family finder should also forward to the adoptive family's link worker information about the agency's adoption support;
  8. The adoptive family's link worker may wish to visit the family to go through the Child's Permanence Report, and should be asked to indicate as soon as possible whether or not the family wish to proceed.
8.25 The procedure outlined in Paragraphs 8.4 to 8.9 will then be followed and the child's social worker and family finder will visit potential families prior to a Matching Meeting being held, being clear with prospective adopters when a number of families are under consideration.
8.26

The Head of Adoption must be advised of the potential link and costs involved.

Progressing to the match

Once a suitable match has been identified, (whether with in-house approved adopters, inter agency or a foster carer approved as an adopter), the child's social worker, prospective adopters' link worker and the family finder should prepare an Adoption Placement Report and a proposed Adoption Support Plan giving details of the family recommended, evaluating how this family may meet the child's needs and setting out the proposed adoption support services to be offered to the child, adoptive family and birth family. This will include including the support to be provided to the prospective adopters to promote the child's educational achievements and participation in leisure activities; to help the child develop positive relationships; and to manage any challenging behaviour which the child may display, The support plan will also include arrangements for contact including how to deal with unauthorised or unmediated contact through online social networking sites. If financial support is recommended, the case must be presented to the Area Resource Panel, prior to agreement of the support plan. For further information, please Adoption Support Procedure.

The Adoption Placement Report must be written by a qualified social worker with suitable experience (see Adoption Panel Procedure) and must include the prospective adopter's views on the proposed placement, contact arrangements (including meeting with the birth parents), adoption support and any proposed restrictions on their exercise of Parental Responsibility after the placement.
8.27 The child's social worker, family finder, the prospective adopters' link worker and their respective managers should sign both documents.
8.28 The family finder should also contact the Panel Administrator to arrange a date for the Adoption Panel to consider the proposed placement.
8.29 The child's social worker will keep the parents and child informed of progress (unless the parent has stated that he or she do not wish to be kept informed).
8.30 The family finder should provide a copy of the Adoption Placement Report to the prospective adopters and give 10 working days to them to submit any written comments on its contents, or ask them to sign a disclaimer if they do not require the full 10 working days. A copy of the signed disclaimer should be held on the child's Adoption Case Record.


9. Approval of Matching of Adoptive Parents

The overall time-scale for matching a child with a prospective adoptive family is:

  • The match is to be recommended by the Adoption Panel within 6 months of the agency's formal approval that the child should be placed for adoption, except in the following cases;
  • Where a parent requests adoption for a child of less than six months of age, the match is to be recommended by the Adoption Panel within 3 months of the agency's formal approval that the child should be placed for adoption.

Where these timescales are not met, the Adoption Panel should record the reasons.

9.1

Presentation to the Adoption Panel - matching children

Within 15 working days of the matching meeting, the family finder must present the following reports to the Adoption Panel:

  1. A front sheet stating what is being reported, the reports included, recommendations sought and who will be attending Adoption Panel;
  2. The child's Permanence Report (with an update medical report no more than 6 months old);
  3. The Prospective Adopter's Report, updated as necessary, on the identified prospective adopters and a recent medical (in the last 2 years);
  4. The Adoption Placement Report;
  5. The proposed Adoption Support Plan, including any financial support agreed by the Area Resource Panel;
  6. The proposals regarding post-placement and post-adoption contact;
  7. The views of the prospective adopters on the Prospective Adopter's Report and the proposed contact arrangements.
9.2 The family finder will send the relevant reports to the Panel Administrator at least 10 working days before the date of the Adoption Panel.
9.3 The Panel Administrator will arrange for the Panel minutes in relation to the recommendations that the child should be placed for adoption and, where in-house approved, that the prospective adopters are suitable to be adopters, to be circulated to Panel members, with the reports. Where there is a proposed inter-agency placement, the family finder will obtain the relevant Panel minutes for circulation.
9.4 The child's social worker, the family finder and the prospective adopters' link worker will attend the Adoption Panel during consideration of the matter. Where a Children's Guardian has been appointed, consideration should be given to inviting the Children's Guardian to the Panel during consideration of this item.
9.5 The Adoption Panel's recommendation as to whether the child should be placed for adoption with the particular prospective adopters will be recorded in writing, together with reasons, in the Panel's minutes. The Panel must also consider and may give advice in relation to the proposed adoption support, the proposed arrangements for contact and any proposed restrictions on the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters and/or the birth parents. A copy of the relevant minute must be placed on the child's and the prospective adopters' Adoption Case Records.
9.6 The prospective adopters' link worker will convey the Panel's recommendation orally to the prospective adopters within 24 hours.
9.7

After the Panel has considered the reports and made a written recommendation, the minute and reports considered by the Panel will be sent to the Agency Decision Maker who will make a decision based on this information within 7 working days of the Panel meeting. In urgent cases, for example where the Court timetable requires it, this timescale should be reduced to 5 working days. The decision will be recorded in writing.

If the Panel has given advice in relation to adoption support, proposed contact and/or the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters and/or the birth parents, the Agency Decision Maker may express a view on such advice.

Where the Agency Decision Maker is minded to disagree with the Panel recommendation, he/she must first discuss the case with another senior officer with relevant experience, who must not be a Panel member. This discussion must be recorded and placed on the child's and the prospective adopter's Adoption Case Record. The ADM should also speak to the panel chair.
9.8 The child's social worker will convey the decision orally to the parents within 2 working days.
9.9 The prospective adopters' link worker will convey the decision orally to the prospective adopters within 2 working days.
9.10 The Panel Administrator will prepare written notification of the decision to be signed by the Agency Decision Maker and once signed, sent to the child's social worker for sending by recorded or hand delivery to the parents within 5 working days.
9.11 The Panel Administrator will send the written notification, signed by the Agency Decision Maker, to the prospective adopters' link worker for sending to the adopters within 5 working days. Copies of this letter will also be sent to the family finder and the child's social worker.


10. Planning the Placement

10.1 Once the matching has been approved and the legal position allows it, the family finder will convene a Placement Planning Meeting to draw up an Adoption Placement Plan, confirming the details of the introductions, placement and post-placement work. The Adoption Family Finding social worker will chair the meeting.
10.2 For inter-agency placements, a separate meeting will also be required, involving the Adoption Service Manager or his/her nominee, to complete BAAF Form H1 which details the contract between the agencies and the adoptive family in relation to the placement.
10.3

The purpose of the first Placement Planning Meeting is to draw up a proposed Adoption Placement Plan. The Adoption Placement Plan should include:

  • Whether the placement is to be made under a Placement Order or with parental consent;
  • The arrangements for preparing the child and the prospective adopter for the placement (see below);
  • The proposed date of the placement, who will be present when the placement takes place;
  • The Adoption Support Plan including the support to be provided to the prospective adopters to promote the child's educational achievements and participation in leisure activities; to help the child develop positive relationships; and to manage any challenging behaviour which the child may display see Adoption Order, Special Guardianship Order and Child Arrangements Order Allowances Procedure;
  • Whether and to what extent, the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters and/or the birth parents is to be restricted, including the delegation of decision making to the prospective adopters about the child's health needs and under what circumstances consent to medical treatment needs to be obtained;
  • The arrangements for the monitoring and supervision of the placement (including contact details of key support staff during office hours and out of hours);
  • The dates on which the Life Story Book and any Background Letters will be passed to the prospective adopters (usually within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order);
  • The date and arrangements for the first Adoption Review;
  • Any post-placement contact between the child and members of his or her birth family and/or the child and the foster carers; and
  • Clarification of who will make the necessary notifications of the placement (see Section 11, The Placement).

It will also set out the steps required leading up to the child's placement with the prospective adopters, including the first meeting between the child and the prospective adoptive family, the programme of and detailed arrangements for their introductions (dates, times, venues, transport and accommodation), the reimbursement of any expenses of the introductions, any other financial assistance to enable the placement to occur and, where appropriate, a meeting between the parents and the prospective adopters.

As part of the preparation of the child for the adoptive placement, information will be provided to ensure that (s)he has a proper understanding about the accommodation and others living at the prospective adoptive home, the contact arrangements with the birth family and how to contact his or her social worker.
10.4 The Adoption Placement Plan will also address when the prospective adopters will be supplied with all relevant written information about the child and who will provide it (for a full list of information to be supplied - see Section 11, The Placement).
10.5 The child's social worker must ascertain the child's views and report these to the meetings.
10.6 Those attending Placement Planning Meetings will be the child's social worker, his/her manager as appropriate, the foster carers, the foster carers' supervising social worker, the family finder, representatives of the health trust (where appropriate), the prospective adopters and their link worker, and any other worker engaged in direct work with the child.
10.7 The child's first meeting with the prospective adopters should be on the child's familiar territory (unless the child is older and requests otherwise) and a social worker should be present. The pattern of introductory visits thereafter will depend on the child's age, needs and stage of development but consideration will be given to a gradual introductory programme involving visits increasing in length, progressing to an overnight stay, a weekend stay and in exceptional circumstances with an older child, a longer period prior to the final move.
10.8

The family finder will be responsible for coordinating and chairing Placement Planning Meetings. However, all workers involved must be clear about their respective roles and responsibilities in the implementation of the plan, and what should happen in the event of difficulties. Changes to the Adoption Placement Plan can only be made with the agreement of the family finder or the Chair of the meeting and must be notified to the prospective adopters in writing.

The child's social worker is expected to be in regular and frequent contact with the child, foster carer and prospective adopter during the period of the introductions and all involved share information with each other on a regular basis, at the frequency identified at the Placement Planning Meetings. The Adoption Placement Plan will then be reviewed at an agreed date - see Paragraph 10.10. The Plan will identify the named workers and when they will have contact with the child.
10.9 The child's social worker will advise the parents of the plan whilst maintaining the confidentiality of the placement (unless the parent has stated that he or she does not wish to be kept informed).
10.10

At the mid-point of the introductions, a second Placement Planning Meeting will be held, at which the following areas will be addressed:

  1. The progress of the introductions - has the necessary action identified at the previous meeting been taken, and the plan been followed? - If not, why not?
  2. The views of each participant as to the above;
  3. The identification of the positives;
  4. The identification of any difficulties;
  5. The development of the next stage of the plan;
  6. The finalisation of the arrangements for the placement.
10.11 A further meeting can be called by any of the parties if issues of concern arise.
10.12 All Placement Planning Meetings should have the same people invited and take place at a venue accessible to all parties.
10.13 Where the child is to be adopted by his or her foster carers, whilst there will be no need for a plan for introductions, the social worker should still convene a Placement Planning Meeting, in order to draw up the Adoption Placement Plan to cover the areas other than introductions as set out above and to specify the date when the placement is to be regarded as an adoptive placement.
10.14 A copy of the final Adoption Placement Plan, signed by the child's social worker, should be given to the prospective adopters, their link worker and the child's Independent Reviewing Officer. The prospective adopters must confirm in writing that they wish the placement to proceed and that they agree to the Adoption Placement Plan. A copy must be retained on the child's Adoption Case Record.
10.15 Where contact is part of the adoption plan, the proposals must be drawn up in written agreements to be signed by the birth parents and the prospective adoptive parents. The agreements must specify the form and timing of the contact and the arrangements for putting the contact in place. The agreements must also specify that the arrangements may change dependent upon the wishes of the child. The agreement should also include how the prospective adopters should deal with unauthorised or unmediated contact through online social networking sites. All parties must sign and retain copies of the agreement. The parent's copy should not reveal any identifying information about the placement. Also see Section 7, Post Placement Contact.
10.16 If the Adoption Placement Plan is varied or terminated, the child must be informed in a timely and age appropriate way.
10.17 Where the Adoption Placement Plan is terminated, the parents must be informed (unless the parent has stated that he or she does not wish to be kept informed).
10.18 If the Adoption Placement Plan is terminated, the Adoption Service Manager should consider the best way to conduct a disruption meeting - see Placement Planning and Disruption Meetings (Fostering and Adoption) Procedure.
10.19 In the event of the placement's termination, direct work will be undertaken with the child to make sense of the reasons why the placement broke down and to prepare the child for any future placement.
10.20 In this event, the child's social worker and family finder must re-start the process of identifying a suitable prospective adoptive family or amend the plan for the child (depending on the outcome of the Disruption Meeting).


11. The Placement

11.1 Once the matching of the child has been approved, the adoption agency has authority to place the child (either through a Placement Order or Parental Consent), the plan of introductions has been successfully completed and the Adoption Placement Plan has been completed and signed by all parties, the placement can go ahead. A social worker must be present when the placement takes place.
11.2

Prior to the placement, the child's social worker must ensure that all the following information/items have been provided to the prospective adopters:

  1. Authority to consent to medical and dental treatment;
  2. The parent-held child Health Record / carer held child health record;
  3. Any letters, photographs or mementos from the birth family, including a 'Later in Life' letter from the birth parent if possible, and the Life Story Book;
  4. The child's birth certificate;
  5. The child's passport (if applicable);
  6. A copy of the Care Order (if applicable), Placement Order (if applicable) and any other Court Orders that exist;
  7. A copy of the Parental Consent to the Placement and Advance Consent to Adoption (if applicable);
  8. A written plan of the contact arrangements pre and post adoption with the birth parents and any previous carers;
  9. The Adoption Support Plan, including a named post-adoption social worker;
  10. The Adoption Placement Plan including arrangements for support and visits by the child's social worker and their own social worker;
  11. Any other relevant information, including specialist reports (subject to the author's consent).
The prospective adopters should be asked to sign confirmation of receipt. Where the information/items are provided at different times, the prospective adopters must sign and date confirmation of receipt on each occasion.
11.3 Prior to the placement, notification must be sent by the worker identified in the Adoption Placement Plan to the present and new GP, the local authority (where the adoptive family live outside the borough), the relevant Health Trust and, if the child is at nursery or of school age, the relevant local education authority (with information about the child's education history and whether the child has special needs). These notifications are still required where the prospective adopters were previously the child's foster carers.
11.4 Prior to the placement, the Medical Adviser should be requested to send a medical report on the child to the child's new GP and, in appropriate cases, to meet the adopters to discuss medical issues.
11.5 Where the child's foster carers are the prospective adopters, the Adoption Service must confirm in writing to them the date from which the placement becomes an adoptive placement.
11.6 The child's social worker must inform the parents of the date of the placement, unless the parents have stated that they do not wish to be kept informed. No identifying information about the placement should be conveyed to birth parents or relatives.
11.7 The child's social worker should ensure the date of the placement is recorded, so that the records identifies that the child is placed for adoption but does not show the placement address.
11.8

The family finder will inform the Panel Administrator of the date of the placement as soon as it is made and inform the relevant finance officer where the Adoption Support Plan includes financial support so that payments can start.

See Court Reports in Adoption Procedure, Adoption Order Application - Supporting the Applicants.


12. Children Approved for Adoption for Whom No Placement has been Identified

12.1 The child will be the subject of regular Adoption Reviews, chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer - see Adoption Reviews Procedure. If no match has been identified within the agreed timescales the Independent Reviewing Officer should recommend a Permanency Planning Meeting is convened to reconsider the plan.
12.2 The child’s details are referred to the Adoption Register when no locally identified match is being actively pursued at the latest by three months after the agency’s decision-maker has decided that the child should be placed for adoption.

In all cases, where a there is authorisation to place a child (Placement Order or formal Parental consent) and the child has not been placed within 6 months, the child's social worker must arrange a Permanency Planning Meeting identifying the length of the delay, the reasons and the steps being taken to address any difficulties, including consideration of a review of the adoption plan and/or a possible change to long-term fostering/separation of siblings. The Team or Service Manager will chair the meeting, depending on the complexity of the situation.
12.3 If it is agreed that the plan should be changed, a review or virtual review will be organised by the child’s social worker. The timescales for the review, including stakeholders to be invited, will be agreed at the permanency planning meeting. There must be minimal delay in holding the review. The Independent Reviewing officer will be responsible for recording on ICS, the date the plan was changed, the reason for the change of plan, and the status of the new plan, within one working day of the review/virtual review.
12.4 The change of plan should be presented by the child’s social worker to the Agency Decision Maker via the Adoption Panel administration team, on the next available date, for formal agreement, with the CiC review minutes, Permanency Planning meeting minutes. The date the Agency Decision Maker agreed the change of plan should be entered by the child’s social worker on the Adoption Plan exemplar on ICS as soon as this is known. Please see the template for the childcare social worker to complete for ADM.
12.5 The outcome of any reviews by the Adoption Decision Maker should be notified to the child (if old enough), the birth parents (in appropriate cases) and any other relevant person.
  • The Placement Order must be revoked if there is no longer an Agency Decision for adoption;
  • The following documents should be sent, by the child’s social worker, to the Legal Team, with instructions to check all the paperwork, file the application, and deal with the court appearances. Legal will advise on whether the papers should be filed with the same court that granted the Care/Placement Orders:
    1. Form A52 - found on the Ministry of Justice website or Form A52;
    2. Chronology of significant events since the Placement/Care Order was made;
    3. Social Worker statement;
    4. Care Plan;
    5. Copy of Final Care/Placement Order, and, if available, the final hearing judgement/’facts and reasons’;
    6. Send CiC Review minutes that record the change of plan from adoption, and review minutes since the making of the placement order to Legal so that a decision can be made about whether to file them within the proceedings;
    7. Minutes of Permanency Planning meeting.
  • The child’s case is to be presented to the Agency Decision Maker to endorse the change of plan for the child before the application for revocation is issued, although not a legal requirement;
  • There needs to be an up to date assessment of the child’s needs and the parent’s capacity to meet those needs. Contact between the child(ren) and family members will need to be reconsidered in light of the change of plan from adoption to an alternative plan. It is possible that when the parents or wider family become aware that adoption is no longer the plan for the child this will prompt them to make an application for contact or to apply to discharge the care order;
  • Consideration may need to be given as to whether an order under section 34(4) of the Children Act 1989 is required; or discharge of the care order;
  • A legal planning meeting should be considered to discuss any issues around the revocation application;
  • When the court issues the application it has to be served on all parties to the care proceedings and any person in whose favour there is provision for contact. The child’s social worker should liaise with legal about this.


13. Adoptive Placements Abroad

Where an adoptive placement outside the UK appears to be a viable option, and consultation with the child (if old enough) supports this, the proposal must be considered at a child's Child in Care Review before becoming part of the child's Care Plan.

The child may be considered for an adoptive placement with known prospective adopters in which case it will be for the adoption agency to satisfy itself that the prospective adopters are suitable to adopt the child. Otherwise, the child may be referred to the Department for Education for a suitable linking to be identified.

In either circumstance, the case must be referred to the Adoption Panel in accordance with Section 1 of this procedure, seeking a formal recommendation that adoption outside the UK is in the best interests of the child. The Child's Permanence Report must include an assessment of the possibility of placing the child for adoption in the British Isles and consideration of whether adoption of the child by a person in a particular country would be in the best interests of the child.

The Agency Decision Maker must consider the recommendation and decide whether the child should be placed for adoption overseas. The notification to the child (if old enough) and the parents must include an explanation of the placement possibilities in the British Isles and abroad.

Where a decision is made to pursue the option of placement overseas, the child's social worker should consult with Legal Services about the legal process, and seek the approval of the Designated Manager to an application for a Placement Order.

Where No Prospective Adopters have been Identified

Where such a decision is made to place the child overseas, the child's social worker must notify the Department for Education of the following:

  1. The child's file reference number;
  2. The child's name;
  3. The child's date of birth;
  4. The gender of the child;
  5. The reasons why the decision has been made that adoption outside the UK may be suitable for the child;
  6. The date of any Placement Order;

The Department for Education maintains a list of children waiting for inter country adoption.

If a decision is made after the child's name is placed on the list that an overseas adoptive placement is no longer appropriate, the child's social worker must inform the Department for Education so that the child's details are removed from the list.

Where the Department for Education receive an application from a foreign country, it will check that the prospective adopters have been assessed as eligible and suitable, and that they meet the age requirement of the UK law, and if so, consider whether there are children of the age and gender to match the prospective adopters' approval.

Where there are children on the list who appear, on the face of it, to match the prospective adopters, the Department for Education will send the relevant papers on the prospective adopters to the local authority looking after the child.

Upon receipt of the papers, the child's social worker in conjunction with the Adoption Service will consider whether the prospective adopters would meet the child's needs. Where necessary, additional information should be requested from the overseas authority via the Department for Education.

Where it is decided that the prospective adopters are not suitable, the Department for Education should be notified and the papers returned.

Where it is decided that the prospective adopters are suitable, the Department for Education should be notified and the proposed match referred to the Adoption Panel for consideration in accordance with the usual procedure. Included in the papers to be presented to the Panel must be the report on the prospective adopters by the foreign authority.

The child's social worker must notify the Department for Education of the decision made.

Where the decision is to proceed with the placement, the child's social worker must send the Child's Permanence Report, together with any Placement Order and a recent photograph of the child, to the Department for Education for onward transmission to the overseas authority and the prospective adopters.

Where the prospective adopters decide to go ahead with the placement, they will be required to travel to meet the child.

The matching procedures will then apply as for any other potential placement.

Placement Planning Meetings should be convened in accordance with the usual procedure (see Section 10, Planning the Placement) to plan the prospective adopters' first meeting with the child, introductions and where the placement goes ahead, regular reports should be required from the relevant overseas authority after the placement.

If the prospective adopters still wish to go ahead and the Placement Planning Meeting confirms that the placement meets the child's needs, the child's social worker must inform the Department for Education, who will contact the overseas authority to confirm that they are content for the placement to go ahead and that the child will be permitted to enter and reside permanently. In these circumstances, the Department for Education will enter the necessary agreement with the overseas authority.

The child's social worker can then arrange for the placement to go ahead.

The prospective adopters will need to seek independent legal advice about the need to apply for a Convention Adoption Order in the UK (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 6 months prior to the application) or a Section 84 Order from the High Court granting them Parental Responsibility to take the child outside the UK for the purposes of adoption (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 10 weeks prior to the application). In either case, the Court will require a social worker's report.

The prospective adopters will need to arrange for the foreign authority to monitor the placement as required by the Placement Planning Meeting.

Where Prospective Adopters have been identified

It will be for the adoption agency to satisfy itself that the prospective adopters are suitable to adopt the child. The assessment should usually be carried out in the prospective adopters' country and then sent to the adoption agency in the same way as for any other prospective adopter.

The matching procedures will then apply as for any other potential placement.

Placement Planning Meetings should be convened in accordance with the usual placement procedures (see Section 9 above) to plan the prospective adopters' first meeting with the child, introductions and where the placement goes ahead, regular reports should be required from the relevant overseas authority after the placement.

The prospective adopters will need to seek independent legal advice about the need to apply for a Section 84 Order from the High Court granting them parental responsibility to take the child outside the UK for the purposes of adoption (which will require the child to be with the adopters for at least 10 weeks prior to the application). Where such an application is made, the Court will require a social worker's report.

The child's social worker will need to arrange for the foreign authority to monitor the placement as required by the Placement Planning Meeting. 


Appendix 1: Agency Decision Checklist

Click here to view Appendix 1: Agency Decision Checklist.

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