If you are the parent or relative of a child who is being adopted then this information is for you. It will give you information about adoption and what it may mean for you and your family. The loss of a child through adoption is traumatic and will likely have a lifelong impact. It is important that you have an understanding of what adoption means for you and your family and that you know where you can access support.
Deciding on Adoption
Before the decision to place your child for adoption is reached the local authority must first decide that adoption is the best plan for the child. They will reach this view after considering:
• Parenting assessments.
• Evidence of other experts.
• Medical test information.
• The health and development of your child whilst in your care.
• The likelihood of you being able to provide safe and nurturing care to enable your child to grow and thrive into a healthy young person.
Your child’s social worker will have talked to you about considering a plan of adoption at a family group conference and at review meetings. It’s really important that you have felt your views and the views of other family members have been listened to and your wishes and feelings have been taken into account whenever possible and alternatives to adoption within your family have been explained.
You should feel able to ask questions if you want to and your child’s social worker will do their best to explain the reasons for the decision and the future plans for your child.
If you are voluntarily placing your child for adoption you will have the opportunity to talk to an adoption worker about lifelong implications of adoption for both yourself and your child to help you reach the right decision. Your views about your child’s upbringing will be taken into account, for example your child’s cultural, religious and language needs.
In all cases where an adoption plan is required a social worker will prepare a report for an independent panel called an adoption panel that will make the final recommendation to the agency decision maker (a senior officer within our children’s services). You will be able to see some of the information from the report and can ask for your views to be included. The decision of the agency is then presented to the Court who will make the final decision about the plan after considering all of the evidence that has contributed to the Local Authority decision.
Placing the child with adopters
You can agree to the placement of the child for adoption if you think this will be in their interests. You can agree to a placement with a named family, such as the foster parents who have cared for your child, if everyone thinks they are the right family. They may have cared for the child for sometime and you may already know them. You can agree to a placement where the adopters are chosen by the Local Authority and agree to an adoption order in the future. This is called giving consent.
You will be seen by an independent social worker from the court called a Children’s Guardian who will talk to you about this. You should speak to your solicitor who will help you understand what this means to you. The Family Rights Group can advise you on how to access a local solicitor with knowledge of Family Law.
If you give your consent, the Local Authority can place the child with the new family. If you do not give your consent, the Local Authority can apply to the court to grant a placement order which will allow them to place the child with a family of their choice.
The Local Authority then shares parental responsibility with the adoptive parents. This means that the adoptive parents are allowed to make decisions about the child as soon as the child is placed with them. The local authority will continue to visit the child and the family until an adoption order is made.
Whilst your child is looked after by the Local Authority there will be contact between you unless there are clear reasons why this cannot take place. It will also be looked at whether your child can return to live with you. If this is not possible and a decision is made to place your child in a new permanent family, plans for future contact will be looked at if it is in the best interests of the child.
Your views and those of the adopters will be taken into consideration but the child’s needs must come first and any arrangement for contact will be based on these.
Applying for an adoption order
Once the child has lived with their new family for 10 weeks the adopters can apply to the court for an adoption order. This usually happens once everyone concerned is satisfied that the child is well settled. The Local Authority writes a report for the court about the reasons for the adoption and makes a recommendation about whether the order should be granted.
The independent social worker from the court - the Children’s Guardian, will meet with you, the child and the carers who are currently looking after them before making a recommendation about what is in the child’s best interests.
Frequently Asked Questions:
My child is going to be adopted, what does that mean?
It means that your child is going to live with a new permanent family. The new carers will become the child’s legal parent or parents as soon as a court makes an Adoption Order. Once an Adoption Order is granted all legal ties with your child are ended.
Will I be able to choose the family my child is placed with?
You can say what sort of family you would like your child to be placed with. For example, you can ask that your child be placed with a family where there are other children so that they have brothers and sisters. You can also ask that your child is brought up in a certain religion or culture. The best interests of the child are always put first, but your wishes will be taken into account.
What sort of family will my child be placed in?
Families that adopt children go through very thorough checks to make sure that they are the right sort of people to look after your child. Agencies working with the family build up a full profile of what they are like and what kind of upbringing they are able to offer your child. Before any child is placed with a family, the Local Authority Adoption Service has to be certain that they can meet your child’s needs and they will match your child with a family that suits them best.
Will I be told about the family?
Yes. We will give you a description of them and some general information about them. We will also encourage a planned meeting between you and the family before your child goes to live with them, if this is felt to be helpful. The social worker will arrange this and be present at the meeting.
How will I know when my child starts living with their new permanent family?
You’ll be invited to meetings to talk about the plans for your child and we’ll make sure you know when they are matched with a family and when they move. We’ll also talk about contact while they’re being fostered and again when they’re placed with a permanent family. It is usual that the frequency and type of contact will change once they are placed with their adoptive family.
Support for Birth Families
If social workers are making plans for the adoption of your child, you are likely to experience a range of emotions and may want to talk to someone independent. You might want advice about what’s happening, an explanation of how the process works, what will happen next and what this will mean for you and your child.
PAC-UK is a voluntary adoption support agency. They firmly believe birth parents are parents for life even if they are not parenting their children on a daily basis and have the right to be well represented and supported. If there are plans to adopt your child PAC UK can help by listening to what you have to say and by giving you information about the process of adoption. You can call PAC UK on 0113 230 2100 for more information, advice and support or visit their website