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OxfordshireChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Placement for Adoption

Contents

  1. Planning for Permanence
  2. Obtaining Agency Approval to Adoption Plan
  3. Preparation of Child for Adoption
  4. Independent Counselling and Support for Birth Relatives
  5. Child's Adoption Medical
  6. Post-adoption Contact
  7. Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter-agency Placements)
  8. Formal Approval of Proposed Match with Prospective Adoptive Parents
  9. Planning the Placement
  10. The Placement
  11. Children Approved for Adoption for Whom no Placement has been Identified
  12. Adoptive Placements Abroad

1. Planning for Permanence

See also Permanence Planning Guidance.

1.1

Every Looked After Child must have a Permanence Plan by the date of his or her second Looked After Review.

1.2

All children subject to Permanency Planning must have an initial referral to the Family Placement Teams via frameworki. This includes children accommodated under Section 20 of the Children’s Act, as well as children who remain placed at home during Care Proceedings. The Permanency Planning Episode should always be completed including for children who are likely to return home. This assists with the tracking of all children who need permanency plans.

1.3

A second referral is needed to the adoption team if and when the child’s Care Plan becomes adoption, and the Family Finding Episode is then opened, and a Family Finder is assigned. In relation to an unborn child and/or a child relinquished for adoption by the parents and not yet looked after, the Adoption Team should be informed and a Family Finder will be immediately allocated.

1.4

In relation to a Relinquished Child, an early planning meeting should be arranged to which a Family Finder from the Adoption Team must be invited. Where adoption is considered to be the preferred option for a relinquished child, family finding should commence immediately in order to achieve early placement, with consideration of whether a fostering for adoption placement should be sought.

1.5

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.

1.6

In the case of siblings, a 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, the assessment of the relationships between all the children, and the likely or possible consequences of each option on each child. Factors that may need to be considered will include: the nature of the sibling group (do the siblings know each other/ how are they related); whether the children have formed an attachment and the strength and quality of that attachment; the health needs of each child; and each child’s views (noting that a child’s views and perceptions will change over time).

  • Where there are siblings with different needs the social worker can book a consultation with the Permanency Planning Meeting;

  • The Adoption Team Family Finder can make preliminary searches and advise on the likelihood of finding adoptive families for a particular sibling group, and the Attach Team may be able to provide a consultation to assist with the assessment of sibling groups where there are more complex needs.

1.7

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

From effect from 1 September 2012, 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, will not be referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation, but will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker for a decision.

Cases where the parents have given consent and there is no application for a Placement Order are referred to the Adoption Panel for a recommendation, which the Agency Decision Maker will take into account when making a decision.

In both instances the arrangements are made through the Adoption and Permanence Panel Administrator.

As soon as adoption is part of the plan for the child, the child’s social worker must:

  • From the Permanency Planning Episode on frameworki, select the outcome “Book Panel/ADM Process” to book the Agency Decision or Panel, send this to the Panel Administrator. The date of the ADM or Panel must be a maximum of 2 months from the date when the adoption plan was ratified at the child’s Looked After Review. Where this timescale is not met, the reason should be recorded;

  • Confirm the adoption medical for the child; (permanency medicals should be provisionally booked at an earlier stage, as the medical advisors need 10 weeks notice to schedule in the medical appointment;

  • Continue to provide counselling for the child - see Section 3, Preparation of Child for Adoption.

2.2

The Care Plan for adoption for a child should be made at the child’s Looked After Review, and it may be necessary to reconvene an early LAC review for this purpose. Where this is not possible, the case file must still demonstrate the date this Care Plan was decided upon, who was involved in the decision, and the rationale for this, with IRO agreement recorded.

The child's social worker must restrict access to the framework-i file for the child once adoption has been identified as the Permanence Plan and family finding has progressed to consideration of prospective adopters.The file is restricted using the  pre-adoption criteria.

All adoption related documents, such as the Permanency Medical Report, Carers Report, Legal Advice to Panel and the Child Permanency Report must be uploaded to the Family Finding Episode, which then in effect becomes the child’s Adoption Case File. Case notes should not name any prospective adopters unless and until the file has been restricted.

The Adoption Team must be notified immediately once the Care Plan becomes adoption, so that a Family Finder can be allocated. The child’s social worker should begin to liaise with the Family Finder and /or adoption team who will advise on the prospects of finding an adoptive family in house or within the local Consortium, and the family finding actions which will be needed. The Looked After Children’s Team Manager should also be notified so that a LAC social worker can be allocated. Close liaison between all the social workers will be needed to ensure the best outcome for the child.

2.3

If not already obtained, the child’s social worker should obtain 2 certified copies of the child’s full birth certificate. One will be required for future Court applications, for the prospective adopters. A copy must be scanned onto the Adoption Case File.

2.4

The child’s social worker should give both birth parents a leaflet about the Birth Relative Support Service, a copy of the Oxfordshire leaflet “Information and Advice for Birth Relatives about Adoption” and ask them to sign confirmation of receipt. A copy of the receipt should be kept on the child’s case file and a further copy should be handed to the parents.

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 leaflets to the address and record this on the child’s case file. See also Section 4, Independent Counselling and Support for Birth Relatives.

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 Adoption Medical for the child - 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. The birth parents should be referred to the Birth Relative Support Service, for independent counselling. For detailed procedure, see Section 4, Independent Counselling and Support for Birth Relatives. If either or both of the parents decline counselling and/or support, then this should be recorded, including the reasons, in the child’s file and Adoption Case File.

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 three last known addresses and contact the Department of Work 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.

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 nursery and the Virtual School 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 Form CR-C Carer's Report for a child aged 0 to 9 years or Form CR-YP Carer's Report for 10 to 16 year olds, to accompany the medical report and Child's Permanence Report. 

2.11

The child’s social worker must discuss the issue of post-adoption contact with the family finder, and ensure that the adoption plan addresses this issue. 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 letter box system. Usually an exchange of photographs will be part of the letter box contact, but consideration will need to be made about how these may be used by the birth family. In rare circumstances birth relatives have posted photographs of children placed for adoption as “missing children” and this could pose a risk to the security of the child’s placement. However, most birth parents will respect the need for exchanged photographs to remain private.

It should be borne in mind that if birth parents do not receive photographs with their letter box contact, they may be more inclined to search social networking sites for photos.

See Section 6, Post-adoption Contact.

If the child has siblings, the plan must analyse the relationship between each child in the sibling group and, if the decision is to place siblings separately, address the issue of post-adoption contact between them (using the “Together or Apart” summary).

2.12

The child’s social worker must also make a written 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. This is an important document for the child and should be written not just for the Agency Decision Maker, but for prospective adopters. It should be borne in mind that the, child will be most likely to read this in the future. Work on the Child Permanence Report should begin as soon as adoption is being considered. 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, which is that the social worker must have a minimum of 3 years post qualifying experience with Children and Families and must have experience of an Adoption case through all its stages to an Adoption Order being made.

Social workers who are not yet suitably qualified must be supervised by someone who has the required experience and who supervises and countersigns any adoption reports.

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

  • Profile of the child, based on the 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;

  • A chronology of the child’s placements and significant life events since birth;

  • The preparation work, undertaken and planned, with the child, and the views of the child in relation to: the adoption plan: future contact with his or her birth family, and the child's preferred method of communication;

  • The views of the Children’s Guardian (where possible);

  • 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 Adoption and Permanency Panel or the Agency Decision Maker;

  • A report of the child’s educational history and current needs, including a summary of the Personal Education Plan (PEP);

  • Any other relevant specialist reports on the child*

  • An assessment of the child’s emotional and behavioural development;

  • A Chronology of the decisions and actions taken by the agency with respect to the child;

  • An assessment of the child’s needs for post-adoption contact, including with siblings, and the child’s and birth relatives’ needs for adoption support services;

  • A full analysis of the options for the child’s future care, the alternatives to adoption considered and the reasons why adoption is the right option for the child;

  • Where the child has siblings, whether the decision is to place siblings separately or together and the rationale for the decision (using the “Together or Apart” summary);

  • Any other information which the agency considers relevant.

*This will include any available experts reports prepared for Court proceedings whether they are supportive of the adoption plan or not.

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.

2.14

Obtaining the formal Agency Decision for Adoption

See Paragraph 2.1 for circumstances, such as for a relinquished baby, when the case will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker, and when cases are referred for a discussion at the Adoption and Permanence Panel. The majority of cases will be referred directly to the Agency Decision Maker. The child’s social worker must provide the following reports. with numbered pages:

  1. The Child’s Permanence Report, signed by the child’s social worker, the manager and the parent (if willing), incorporating the child’s and parents’ views;

  2. The Form CR-C or CR-YP Carer's Report completed by the child’s carer;

  3. The Medical Advisers report on the child;

  4. Written legal advice from the County’s Legal Services - including advice in relation to parental consent and the option of seeking a Placement Order;

  5. An up-to-date school/nursery report on the child;

  6. Any available psychological/psychiatric or other expert's report on the child commissioned as part of the Care Proceedings)*

  7. The proposed Adoption Support Plan for the child;

  8. A photograph of the child which should be inserted into the CPR;

  9. The above must also be added to the child’s case file into the Family Finding Episode. These documents constitute part of the Child’s Adoption File and will be needed by the ADM or Panel, the Family Finder, prospective adopters and their link worker, and later on, by anyone providing adoption support services, including where the Adult Adoptee requests access to their Adoption File.

*This will include any available experts reports prepared for Court proceedings whether they are supportive of the adoption plan or not. 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 days before the date of the Agency Decision Makers consideration of the case, or 14 days before Panel. The documents are “sent” to the Panel Administrator by virtue of having been uploaded into the Family Finding Episode and the Administrator having been notified of this.

The social workers Team Manager(assuming the Team Manager is qualified according to the Adoption Agency Regulations) will be responsible for quality assurance of the reports before they are submitted to the Agency Decision Maker

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

The child’s social worker does not attend if the case is being presented to the Agency Decision Maker only, but (together with his or her manager if appropriate) will attend if the case is being discussed at the Panel meeting.

(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, ( for example for a relinquished baby) the procedure set out in Section 8, Approval of Matching of Adoption Parents must also be followed).

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 and Permanency Panel for advice.

For cases going to the Panel

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

The recommendation will be recorded in writing, together with reasons, in the Panels minutes. A copy of the relevant minutes must be held on the child’s Adoption Case File.

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. Then the decision is entered on the child's electronic record.

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

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 child’s social worker will arrange for a letter from the Area Service Manager to the parents informing them of the decision. The letter setting out the agency decision will be sent by recorded delivery or 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. The letters should be uploaded into the child's Adoption file.

2.16

Where a decision has been made to seek a Placement Order in relation to the child, the child’s social worker should consult the County’s Legal Services in order to prepare the Court application.

See Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship Guidance for the contents of the Court Report.

2.17

Where the parents wish to give their consent to the child's placement and/or the child's adoption, the child's social worker must arrange for a written request to be sent to CAFCASS to appoint an officer to witness the consent. The CAFCASS officer cannot do this until the child is 6 weeks old. The child can be placed with prospective adopters before 6 weeks with the agreement of those with Parental Responsibility, and it is good practice to consider this. This would be a foster placement. Formal consent would still be sought via CAFCASS and the case should be referred to Panel as soon as possible.

For further detailed information about the relinquishment for adoption of children less than six weeks, see paragraphs 2.48-2.52 (on pages 43/44) of the Adoption Guidance issued in July 2013.

See also the Protocol between CAFCASS and Adoption Agencies for Children Relinquished for Adoption.

2.18

As set out in the Protocol with CAFASS 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.

2.19

On receipt of the parents' consent witnessed by the CAFCASS officer, it should be uploaded onto the adoption file, but the original must be kept by the child’s social worker as it will be needed when the prospective adopters submit their adoption application to the Court.

2.20

Once the Court has granted a Placement Order the Adoption Team and Family Finder must be informed. The Child will have a new social worker allocated from the LAC Team, and they should start active work on this case alongside the Family Support social worker and well before the Placement Order is made, for the following reasons:

  1. To avoid delay in matching the child with prospective adopters. This is especially the case for very young children. Where Oxfordshire or Consortium approved prospective adopters are available, a family can be provisionally selected, and if appropriate, can be approached before the Placement Order is made, and a provisional date may be made for the matching Panel. This procedure is within the spirit of concurrency planning, and has significant benefits, especially for young children who will have an enhanced opportunity to form a secure attachment with their adoptive families when matching and placement takes place with a “sense of urgency and care”;

  2. It is especially important that a dialogue takes place between the Family Support Team and LAC Team as to which of them, or whether both of them will be involved in partnership with the Family Finder in selecting and meeting with a prospective adoptive family. Once the agency has authority to place a child there should be no unnecessary delay in implementing the adoption plan for the child. To achieve this will require considerable liaison and forward planning between all the teams;

  3. When children need to move placements, it is important that they have a social worker who knows them and in whom they trust. Their social worker is a key source of support to a child who is getting used to new parents, a new home, new school and a whole new life. Moving to an adoptive placement is a very significant move for a child and it is essential that they are properly prepared and supported. The prospective adopters also need the involvement of a key worker who knows the child well;

  4. To implement the plan for post placement contact, it is advisable that the child’s social worker has met the birth family members with whom contact is planned;

  5. The transition of the case should ensure that important matters, e.g.: proposals and arrangements for contact are clearly understood, and especially the rationale for the decisions which have been made. It is also that important any follow up actions arising from the permanency medical are followed through and recorded;

  6. So that Letterbox Service, Life Story Book, and Later Life letters are completed by a social worker who has a thorough understanding of the child’s journey: the reasons for the decisions made that so profoundly impact his or her life: and wherever possible is someone who has actually met the key people in the child’s life.

3. Preparation of Child for Adoption

3.1

The child’s social worker will ensure that Letterbox Service with the child continues with the aim, so 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.

Click here for Children’s Guide to Adoption for under 5’s.

Click here for Children’s Guide to Adoption for over 5’s.

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. If English is not the child's first language, an interpreter should be arranged as 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 and included in the Child's Permanence Report.

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.

See Oxfordshire County Council Letterbox Service.

3.2

The foster carers’ supervising social worker will support the foster carers in playing their part in the preparation of the plan, including careful recording by the foster carers in the Daily Record 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 and supported during the period of introductions - see Section 9, 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 prepare a Life Story Book for the child. This is to be provided in two stages, the first stage being not later than the second adoption review, and the final book within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order). In many cases the child will need their Life Story Book as soon as possible to aid their understanding and support them in making attachments to their adoptive family. The only section of the book which would need to wait until after the Adoption Order is made, is the photographs and account of the day of the Adoption Ceremony.

A copy of the Life Story Book should be placed on the child’s adoption file.

3.5

The child's social worker will write a 'Letter of Origin' sometimes known as a “Later Life Letter” for the child, to be provided to the child at an appropriate time (usually this will be given to the adopters) within 10 working days of the adoption ceremony, i.e. the ceremony to celebrate the making of the adoption order). Examples of such letters are available from the Adoption Team.

A copy of the Letter of Origin should be placed on the child’s file.

4. Independent Counselling and Support for Birth Relatives

4.1

Birth parents, and other relatives where appropriate, are entitled to an assessment of their support needs both before and after adoption, and this should be provided independently of the child's social worker.

4.2

Both birth parents must be offered independent counselling and support irrespective of whether they have Parental Responsibility unless there are exceptional circumstances, in which case legal advice should be taken and the reasons for not arranging support recorded.

4.3

The child's social worker must make a referral to the Birth Relative Support Worker to provide this service as soon as adoption starts to be considered as the plan for the child. This will usually be at the second LAC review where adoption or twin-tracking becomes the agreed plan.

4.4

The referral is made from the child's record on Frameworki but it can be helpful to have an initial conversation with the Birth Relative Support Worker by telephone.

4.5

It may also be appropriate for the child's social worker to make a referral to the Birth Relative Support worker for the provision of counselling and/or support to members of the extended family, where they have played a significant role in the child's life.

4.6

Referrals to the Birth Relative Support Worker can also be made directly by others, i.e. members of the birth family, solicitors or CAFCASS. These referrals will need to be made by telephone in the first instance and a referral form will be sent out.

Where such referrals are received, they will be acknowledged in writing and the referrer will be advised whether it is considered appropriate to accept the referral. If the referral is accepted, it will be uploaded to FWi.

4.7

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 and seek to ascertain their views. 

4.8

The Birth Relative Support Worker should provide the birth parents/relatives with written information on the adoption process covering the areas set out in Paragraph 4.13 a.) to g.), l.) and m.) below. This should be recorded (including the method of delivery and the date) on the birth relative's FWi record in an open case note. The child's social worker should record this information on the child's FWi record.

4.9

Where the birth parents decline support and/or do not receive written information, this should be recorded, including the attempts made to engage and the reasons for failure/refusal, by the Birth Relative Support worker on the birth relative's file in an open casenote. The child's social worker should record this information on the child's FWi record.

4.10

The Birth Relative Support worker will offer an initial session and further sessions, as required and appropriate, to ensure that the implications of adoption are fully discussed. The parents should also be offered assistance to contribute positively to the plans for the child, including the provision of important information for the Child's Permanence Report.

4.11

The support may need to be provided jointly with a specialist worker, for example where the parent has poor mental health or learning disabilities. In exceptional circumstances, a counsellor from an independent agency will be appointed.

4.12

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.

4.13

Broadly it is the responsibility of the child's social worker to explain agency plans, decisions, procedures, and legal processes to the birth family.

The Birth Relative Support worker may reinforce this if needed but broadly their responsibility is to listen to and acknowledge the views and feelings of the birth relatives, to provide information and advice as requested and to help them to make a contribution to the planning process for the child's future.

The counselling and support may cover the following areas:

  1. Explaining the key stages of the adoption process and likely time-scales (and where appropriate, the process relating to Special Guardianship Orders);

  2. Explaining, where appropriate, the procedure for seeking a Placement Order;

  3. Explaining the parents’ legal rights, including to apply for a Contact Order, the right of the unmarried father to seek a Parental Responsibility Order or a Child Arrangements Order in relation to the child;

  4. Explaining the role of the Adoption and Permanency Panel/Agency Decision Maker;

  5. Explaining the role of CAFCASS - the Reporting Officer in witnessing consent or the Children’s Guardian;

  6. Explaining the way the Adoption Contact Register and Intermediary Services work and how an adopted adult may seek information about the birth family in the future;

  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 and should be part of the information provided;

  9. Acknowledging grief and loss;

  10. Where the parents consent to the adoptive placement, explaining the process for witnessing their consent, 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 at any time up to the making of an adoption order, but the restriction of their rights to do so after an adoption application is made;

  11. Ascertaining the parents’ views on 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.

4.14

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 child's social worker should also ascertain if he intends to apply for Parental Responsibility and/or a Child Arrangements Order.

4.15

The parents and their solicitors, if appropriate, must be sent any recording of their views to be presented to Panel.

4.16

Where the parents are seeking to relinquish an expected child, the Assessment Team social worker will normally provide the support and counselling prior to birth. This will include discussion on the arrangements for the birth, the parents' 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. However the birth parent should still be advised of the birth relative support worker and their role, and asked if they wish to have this support.

4.17

In cases where a birth parent is considering placing a child for adoption, but where there is likely to be care proceedings if the child is not placed voluntarily, a referral must be made to the Birth Relative Support Worker in the Adoption Team for independent support.

4.18

The child's social worker should arrange for photographs to be taken of the child and, if they agree, photographs of the parents and other significant people and places, for inclusion in the child's Life Story Book.

5. Child’s Adoption Medical

The Child's Permanency Medical must be kept up to date, which may require follow up appointments with the Agency Medical Advisor. See Paragraph 5.10.

5.1

As soon as the adoption plan becomes part of the child’s Care Plan, the child’s social worker should send the Standard Referral Form to the Medical Adviser requesting an adoption medical for the child. The Medical Adviser will advise who should conduct the medical and whether any tests or further opinions are required.

5.2

The child’s social worker must seek the cooperation of both birth parents, to provide written consent to the disclosure of medical information, by completing BAAF Form A, including obtaining their consent to the Medical Adviser approaching their GP if necessary, as well as obtaining their written consent to the obstetric report BAAF Form M on the mother and neo-natal report BAAF Form B on the child. A separate Form A should be completed in relation to each parent. The completed Form A’s must be sent to the Medical Adviser with the Standard Referral Form or as soon as they are available.

5.3

The importance of the disclosure of medical information must be explained to the parents but where the parents refuse to sign consent forms, the social worker must complete as much as possible on the relevant forms, record the attempts made to engage the parents and the reasons for refusal in the child’s file and Adoption Case File, and inform the Medical Adviser of the position.

5.4

The child’s social worker should send the Forms B and M (requesting an obstetric report on the mother and neo-natal report on the child) to the hospital social work team (if one exists at the hospital where the child was born) or the Hospital Administrator with a request that the Form be completed and returned to the Medical Adviser. Where the child was born at home, the Form should be sent to the mothers GP.

5.5

The procedure set out in Paragraphs 5.1 to 5.4 needs to be started without delay so that the adoption medical can be arranged; the adoption medical advisers need 10 weeks’ notice before the date for the Panel/Agency Decision process and the medical must take place before the child’s plan for adoption is considered by the Adoption and Permanency Panel and/or by the Agency Decision Maker. Where the child is a new born baby, the baby must be 6 weeks old before the adoption medical takes place. Only in very exceptional cases can the Panel or ADM process can take place before the permanency medical report is available, the Panel Advisor should be consulted in such cases.

5.6

Prior to the medical, the child’s social worker should send the Medical Adviser the relevant BAAF Form for completion after the medical (BAAF Form C for children of 5 and under, BAAF Form D for children aged 6 to 10 and BAAF Form YP for children of 11 and above), with the Annex to the Form completed by the child’s carer.

5.7

The child’s social worker must also arrange for the Medical Adviser to receive prior to the medical the health visitor/school nurse records on the child and an up-to-date health visitor/school nurse report, a GP’s report if appropriate, for example where the child is currently receiving treatment, and any available psychological/psychiatric reports on the child (subject to obtaining the Courts permission if the report has been filed in Court proceedings).

5.8

In cases which are not presented to the Panel for consideration of whether the child is suitable to be placed for adoption (see Paragraph 2.1) and expert reports have been filed with the court that are relevant to the child’s health, consideration should be given to whether to seek a specific direction from the court allowing the report to be disclosed to the Medical Adviser for comment.

5.9

The child’s social worker and the foster carer should attend the medical with the child. 

5.10

The information on the child’s medical report must be kept up to date if a placement is not immediately forthcoming. This must be done at 6 month intervals for children under 2 years, and otherwise at least annually. The Medical Adviser may make specific recommendations for follow up in relation to particular children, and it is important that these recommendations are followed though.

6. Post-adoption Contact

For detailed guidance, please refer to the Contact in Adoption - Planning Pack for Social Workers.

Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, there is no presumption of contact. The plans for contact must be reviewed when adoption becomes the plan for the child, when a Placement Order is made, and again when an Adoption Order is made.

6.1

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 prospective adoptive parents, the birth 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. The prime consideration must be the child’s welfare throughout his or her life. It is essential that the child’s social worker discusses the proposed contact arrangements with the Family Finder and Adoption team, and receives their advice, before submitting their Care Plan to the Court and before completing the Child's Permanence Report.

The plans for post adoption contact are an important part of the information to be shared in the transfer summary from the Family Support to the Looked After Team Social worker.

6.2

Where there is a sibling group, each child must be assessed separately and together as a group.

6.3

The assessment should determine whether 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.

6.4

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.

  5. Normally photographs are included in letter box arrangements. If this is considered to be a risk to the stability of the placement, then this risk needs to be carefully considered. The majority of birth parents would not wish to the child’s adoptive placement to be put at risk, even if they have opposed the making of the Placement or Adoption Order. If there is concern that the child’s photograph would be posted on social networking sites, then the reasons for this not being appropriate must be explained to the birth relative, and an assessment made as to whether they are able and willing to refrain from doing this;

  6. Very occasionally it may be appropriate to offer office viewing of photographs. This would be an unusual arrangement and must be discussed with the Adoption Support Team Manager prior to any arrangements being made. A risk assessment form is available from the Adoption Support Team, to assist in making this decision.

6.5

Any proposed post-adoption contact should be in line with any Court Orders. Any proposed post adoption contact should consider the likely impact on the security and stability of an adoptive placement for the child, and the likely impact of the contact plans on successful family finding.

6.6

Where 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 7, Identification of Adoptive Parents and also part of the planning of the placement - see Section 9, Planning the Placement.

When making an Adoption Order, or at any time afterwards, the court may (upon application or on its own initiative) make an order, under section 51 A of the Act, 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.

Both orders for contact and orders prohibiting contact are likely to be relatively rare at the adoption order stage, and where some form of continuing contact is proposed, whether direct or direct, it is more likely that this will be a matter for agreement between the person concern and the adopters. The court may however make a note on the court file about the agreement reached.

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.

7. Identification of Adoptive Parents (including Inter-agency Placements)

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. So that Family finding can begin as soon as adoption is under consideration, the child’s social worker must contact the adoption team and let them know that the Care Plan is now adoption, and ensure that the date of this decision is recorded.

Family Finding work can commence before the Agency Decision Maker decides that the child should be placed for adoption or a Placement Order is made. Where there is very clear evidence for adoption, and where there are suitable in house or Consortium prospective adopters, an adoptive family can be identified in principle before the 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:

  • Wherever possible, the match should be identified, recommended by the Adoption and Permanency Panel and approved within 121 days of the Agency receiving authority to place, 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 and Permanency Panel and approved within 3 months (91 days) of the agency's formal approval that the child should be placed for adoption.

7.1

When the child is formally referred to the Adoption Team for family finding, a family finder will be identified to start the family finding process.

7.2

The family finder will arrange a meeting to plan the family finding for the child and agree timescales and responsibilities. The meeting will involve the family finder, the child’s social worker, foster carer and any other relevant person, wherever possible this will include the future LAC social worker. A checklist is available for this meeting, which can be used as an agenda.

At the meeting, those present will start to identify the child’s needs in relation to a new family, including ethnicity, culture, religion, language, contact with birth family and existing networks, education, health, other special needs and location, and the qualities required in the adoptive family, based on the child’s identified placement needs. This Adoption Plan should address how the child and parents may be involved in and express views about the process.

The family finder should add the information to the child’s case file.

Where foster carers express an interest in adopting a child placed with them, see Paragraph 7.11.

7.3

With effect from July 2014, by virtue of the Children and Families Act 2014, adoption agencies do not have a specific legal requirement to “give due consideration to a child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background when matching a child and prospective adopters”.

In accordance with this principle, whilst it is still good practice to consider the child’s ethnicity as part of the matching considerations, ethnicity must not be placed above everything else when identifying potential adopters for children and 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.

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

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.

7.4

The Adoption Team Manager will then arrange:

  1. A Family Finder to be allocated;

  2. For an entry on the Adoption Register for England and Wales, if appropriate, and with the consent of the Court;

  3. Where there are potentially suitable in-house approved families, the family finder will invite the child’s current s social worker, and if known the new LAC team social worker to read available reports about one month before the final hearing and in consultation with the relevant managers choose the most appropriate adoptive parent/s.

7.5

The relevant adoption worker for the family selected will inform them and arrange to visit to discuss the child/children as soon as possible.

7.6

Where there are no potentially suitable in-house approved families available or where none are selected, the Adoption Team must develop a further strategy for family finding to prevent further delay, for example the seeking of an inter-agency placement (see Paragraph 7.12). Before specific prospective adopters are identified as a potential match, the Adoption Team manager must be consulted, and in some cases a formal matching meeting will be held.  

7.7

Where a potentially suitable in-house approved adoptive family is identified, the family finder will arrange to visit with the child’s social worker, the adopters’ adoption worker and the child's carer if appropriate.

7.8

The family finder will also arrange for the selected prospective adopters to be provided with full information on the child, including the Child’s Permanence Report, the child’s profile, a full description of the birth family including any siblings and the reasons for any decision to place the child separately, the child’s medical history (including the birth details), the carer’s report on the child, the up-to-date school/nursery 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.

7.9

At the meeting with the prospective adopters, the child’s social worker and family finder will provide any further information to them to ensure they have a clear picture of the child and understand fully the implications of the information they have received. The prospective adopters should have the opportunity to meet other specialists involved with the child, for example the Medical Adviser.

7.10

Where foster carers express an interest in adopting a child they are looking after (usually this would have been for a considerable period of time), and there is an Adoption Plan for the child, they will be asked to put this request into writing to the Adoption, Permanence & Fostering Service Manager. The family finder will talk to them about the implications of adoption. There will be a need to convene a meeting involving the child’s social worker, his or her team manager and the foster carers’ link social worker (with his or her manager where appropriate). The chair of the meeting may be the Adoption, Permanence & Fostering Service Manager or the Adoption Team Manager. If the outcome of the meeting is that the foster carers appear to be able to meet the child’s essential needs, the link social worker will be asked to update their assessment for approval as prospective adoptive parents, they will also be invited to attend the Reflection and Preparation Workshops (see Assessment and Approvals of Prospective Adopters Procedure).

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’ link worker will provide support and counselling to the foster carers as appropriate.

7.11

Inter Agency Placements

Where the Adoption Team Manager considers recruitment of adopters from another agency may be required, the family finder will arrange for a referral to be made to the Adoption Consortium and, if and when appropriate, the Adoption Register for England and Wales Children Register to consider appropriate links. Dependent on the case, consideration will also be given to publicity in the specialist or wider press or using resources such as Adoption Link. It should be borne in mind that the most suitable family may be one that has been approved by another agency. When there is no in house match children will always be referred to the Adoption Register within 3 months of receiving authority to place the child for adoption.

7.12

Where it is considered that a placement of the child with overseas adopters would be appropriate, see Section 13, Adoptive Placements Abroad.

7.13

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

  • Check that appropriate consents to publicity have been obtained (including from the birth parents and/or the Court);

  • Arrange for professional photographs to be taken of the child for publicity purposes;

  • Arrange for a DVD to be made where appropriate;

  • Agree with the child’s social worker which publications are to be used for publicity purposes, and draw up suitable profiles.

7.14

Other members of the Adoption Team as well as the family finder should be made aware of the dates of the publicity and a response to callers should be agreed.

7.15

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’ adoption worker and the family finder should prepare an Adoption Placement Report 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 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. For further information, please seeAdoption Support Procedure. The Adoption Placement Report must be written by a qualified social worker with suitable experience and must include the prospective adopters' views on the proposed placement, contact arrangements, adoption support and meeting with the birth parents.

7.16

The child’s social worker should make a referral (through Framework-i/ Booking Form) to the Panel Administrator to arrange a date for the Adoption and Permanency Panel to consider the proposed placement.

7.17

Once the Adoption Placement Report and Support Plan has been completed and signed by the child’s social worker, family finder, the prospective adopters’ adoption worker and their respective managers, a copy of the Report should be sent to the prospective adopters. The prospective adopters should be given 10 working days to submit comments on its contents.

7.18

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. Formal Approval of Proposed Match with Prospective Adoptive Parents

The proposed match is presented to the Adoption and Permanence Panel.

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

  • The match is to be recommended by the Adoption and Permanency Panel within 121 days 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 and Permanency Panel within 3 months( 91 days) of the agency's formal approval that the child should be placed for adoption.

Where timescales for matching are not met, the Adoption and Permanency Panel should record the reasons.

8.1

Presentation to the Adoption and Permanency Panel:

The child’s social worker must present the following reports:

  1. A Family Finding Report;

  2. The Panel minute recommending that the child should be placed for adoption or Agency Decision that the child should be placed for adoption;

  3. The Child’s Permanence Report and other reports submitted when the recommendation in b) above was made;

  4. Updating reports (including updated legal advice if the legal situation has changed, a medical report which must be no more than 6 months old for a child under 2 years and no more than 12 months for a child over 2 years. An addendum to the Child’s Permanence Report if the report is more than 3 months old for a child under 2, or more than 6 months old for a child aged 2 to 7 or more than 12 months old for a child over 7);

  5. The child’s Permanency Medical Report and an update if appropriate. The Panel minute recommending the prospective adopters as suitable to adopt;

  6. The Panel minute recommending the prospective adopters as suitable to adopt;

  7. The Prospective Adopters Report;

  8. Updating reports as necessary, on the identified prospective adopters, for example a medical report if the previous report to Panel is more than 2 years old, and/or Disclosure and Barring Service checks if the previous checks are more than 2 years old and amendments to the PAR report if there are any significant changes;

  9. The Adoption Placement Report;

  10. A separate Adoption Support Plan, where appropriate;

  11. The views of the prospective adopters on the Adoption Placement Report and the proposed contact arrangements.

8.2

These Reports should be uploaded into the Child's Frameworki file in the Family Finding Episode, and the family finder will send notification to the Panel Administrator when this has been done and at least 14 days before the date of the Adoption and Permanency Panel.

8.3

The child’s social worker, the prospective adopters’ adoption worker will attend the Adoption and Permanency Panel during consideration of the matter, together with the family finder if appropriate. They will arrange to take recent photographs of the child and the prospective adopters with them to the meeting. The prospective adopters are also invited to the Panel Meeting but are not required to attend.

8.4

The 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 may also give advice in relation to the provision of adoption support, the arrangements for contact and the exercise by the prospective adopters of Parental Responsibility, and whether and how this should be restricted. A copy of the relevant minute must be placed on the child’s and the prospective adopters’ Adoption Case Files.

8.5

The prospective adopters’ adoption worker will convey the Panel's recommendation orally to the prospective adopters within 24 hours.

8.6

After the Adoption and Permanency Panel;

After the Panel has considered the report and made a written recommendation, this will be sent to the Agency Decision Maker (Adoption) who will make a decision based on the reports presented to the Panel and the Panels minutes within 7 working days of receipt of the minutes. The decision and his/her reasons for it will be recorded in writing and added to the Panel minutes and then entered on the client record. If the Panel has given advice in relation to adoption support, proposed contact and/or the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters, the Agency Decision-Maker may express a view on such advice.

8.7

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 the appropriate experience, who should not be a Panel member. This discussion must be recorded and placed on the child’s and the prospective adopters Adoption Case File.

8.8

The child’s social worker will convey the decision orally to the birth parents within 2 working days, and will follow up with a formal letter.

8.9

The prospective adopters’ adoption worker will convey the decision orally to the prospective adopters within 2 working days.

8.10

Written notification of the decision will be signed by the Agency Decision Maker (Adoption) and sent to the Panel Administrator for sending to the adopters within 5 working days. Copies of this letter will also be sent to family finder and child’s social worker. NB To meet the timescales this letter should be sent no later than 12 working days after the Panel meeting.

9. Planning the Placement

9.1

Once the matching has been approved, and the legal position allows it (i.e. parental consent to the placement has been given or a Placement Order has been made), the family finder will convene an Adoption Placement Planning Meeting (agenda available) to draw up an Adoption Placement Plan, confirming the details of the introductions, placement and post-placement work.

9.2

Those attending the Adoption Placement Planning Meeting will be the family finder, the child’s social worker, the foster carers, the foster carers’ link social worker, the prospective adopters and their adoption worker, and any other worker engaged in direct work with the child. Placement Planning meetings will be chaired by the Family Finder, another Senior Practitioner, or the Adoption Manager Where possible Placement Planning Meetings for inter- agency placements will be chaired by a Team Manager.

9.3

For inter-agency placements, the Adoption Team Manager, will consult with the prospective adopter’s agency to complete BAAF Form H1 which details the contract between the agencies and the adoptive family in relation to the placement.

9.4

The purpose of the Adoption Placement Planning Meeting is to draw up a proposed Adoption Placement Plan. The Adoption Placement Plan should include whether the placement is 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), whether and and to what extent, the exercise of Parental Responsibility by the prospective adopters 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 and also for example in relation to the change of the child's name), the arrangements for the supervision of the placement (including contact details during office hours and out of hours), the date on which the life story book and Letter of Origin 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 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 9, The Placement). For full details of all area to be covered in the Adoption Placement Plan, see the agenda.

9.5

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 birth parents/relatives and the prospective adopters. The Adoption Placement Plan will also include a timescale for introductions.

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.

See also Guidelines for Adopters re face-to-face meetings with birth relatives and Guidelines for Social Workers re face-to-face meetings between adopters and birth relatives.

9.6

The child’s social worker must ascertain the child’s views and report these to the meetings.

9.7

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 and possible overnight stays for older children.

9.8

Changes to the Adoption Placement Plan can only be made with the agreement of the family finder or the Chair of the meeting.

9.9

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 Adoption Placement Planning Meeting. The Adoption Placement Plan will then be reviewed at an agreed date - see Paragraph 9.12. The Plan will identify the named workers and when they will have contact with the child.

9.10

The child's social worker will send the birth parents the anonymous profile of the adoptive parents, which will be provided by the link social worker for the adopters.

9.11

At the mid-point of the introductions, a review of the introductions is held. A time and venue for a meeting must be booked. 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.

NB In exceptional cases, for example a very young child where everything is going according to plan, it may be that this meeting can be done by telephone.

9.12

A further meeting can be called by any of the parties if issues of concern arise.

9.13

All Adoption Placement Planning Meetings should have the same people invited and take place at a venue accessible to all parties.

9.14

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 as set out above and to specify the date when the placement is to be regarded as an adoptive placement.

9.15

A copy of the final Adoption Placement Plan, signed by the child’s social worker, should be given to the prospective adopters, their adoption 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 File.

9.16

Where contact is part of the adoption plan, a written copy of the arrangement should be signed by the birth relatives and the prospective adoptive parents. The form must specify the nature and timing of the contact and the arrangements for putting the contact in place. It must also specify that the arrangements may change dependent upon the needs of the child. The arrangements should include a commitment not to engage in any unauthorised or unmediated sharing of information gained from the contact e.g. through online social networking sites. All parties should be given a copy of the agreement for their records and the signed copies will become part of the child’s Adoption Case File. See also Section 6, Post-adoption Contact.

9.17

If the Adoption Placement Plan is changed or does not proceed to placement, the child must be informed in an age appropriate way.

9.18

If there is a decision not to proceed to placement the parents must be informed (unless the parent has stated that he or she does not wish to be kept informed).

9.19

Where there is a decision not to proceed to placement the Adoption Team Manager should consider the best way to formally review what happened and what new information has emerged. The minutes of this Meeting should be included in the child’s Case File and the prospective adopters’ Adoption Case File.

9.20

In the event of the placement ending, direct work will be undertaken with the child to make sense of the reasons why the placement could not go ahead and to prepare the child for any future placement.

9.21

In this event, the child’s social worker and family finder must re-start the process of identifying a suitable prospective adoptive family or review the plan by reconvening a Looked After Review for the child.

10. The Placement

10.1 Once the matching of the child has been approved, the plan of introductions successfully completed and the Adoption Placement Plan drawn up and signed by all parties, the placement can go ahead. The child’s social worker, whom the child knows must be present when the placement takes place unless the Adoption Placement Plan sets out another social worker who should be present.
10.2

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 child’s ‘Red Book’ and NHS Card;
  3. Any letters, photographs or mementos from the birth family, and the Life Story Book;
  4. The child’s passport (if applicable);
  5. A written plan of the contact arrangements pre and post adoption with the birth parents and any previous carers;
  6. The Adoption Support Plan;
  7. The Adoption Placement Plan including arrangements for support and visits by the child’s social worker and their own social worker;
  8. Any other relevant information, including specialist reports (subject to the authors and, if applicable, the Courts consent).
The prospective adopters should be asked to sign agreement to the Adoption Placement Plan.
10.3 Prior to the placement, the child’s social worker must notify the new GP, the local authority (where the adoptive family live outside the county), 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). Standard letters are available for this purpose. These notifications are still required where the prospective adopters were previously the child’s foster carers.
10.4 Prior to the placement, the child’s social worker should send the Agency medical report on the child to the child’s new GP.
10.5 Where the child’s foster carers are the prospective adopters, the family finder must confirm in writing to them the date from which the placement becomes an adoptive placement.
10.6 The child’s social worker must inform the parents of the date of the placement unless the parents have stated that they did not wish to be kept informed. No identifying information about the placement should be conveyed to birth parents or relatives. The child’s case file must be restricted to preserve the confidentiality of the adoption placement.
10.7 The child’s social worker should ensure the date of the placement is recorded on the client record, so that the record identifies that the child is placed for adoption but does not show the placement address.
10.8 The child’s social worker will inform the relevant finance officer where the Adoption Support Plan includes financial support so that payments can start. 

11. Children Approved for Adoption for Whom no Placement has been Identified

11.1

The child will be the subject of regular reviews, chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer - see Adoption Reviews Procedure.

11.2

Where a child has been approved for adoption but not placed within 9 months, the child’s social worker must present a further report to the Agency Decision Maker  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.

11.3

The Agency Decision Maker may request an earlier progress report on an individual case when first considering the child.

11.4

The outcome of any reviews as set out in paragraphs 11.1 and 11.2 above should be notified to the child (if old enough), the birth parents (in appropriate cases) the Service Manager for the child and the Service Manager for Family Placement and the Adoption, Permanence & Fostering Service Manager and any other relevant persons.

11.5

The child's details should be passed to the Adoption Register for England and Wales, if no locally identified match is being actively pursued at the latest by 3 months after the decision by the Agency Decision Maker that the child should be placed for adoption.

12. 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 Looked After 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, (see header below).

In either circumstance, the case must be referred to the Agency Decision Maker in accordance with Section 2.14, Obtaining Agency Approval to Adoption Plan 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 (Adoption) 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 (Placement Orders) 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 and Permanency 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 9, 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 workers report - see Applications for Special Guardianship Orders Procedure for a detailed list of the contents.

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, 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.

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 workers report - see Applications for Special Guardianship Orders Procedure for a detailed list of the contents.

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