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3.10.6 Non-agency Adoption Placements

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to adoption applications in relation to adoption placements that have not been arranged by a local authority or registered adoption agency. This will include adoption applications by step-parents, civil partners of parents (birth or adoptive), relatives, private foster carers or local authority foster carers who have not sought or obtained the local authority's approval for the placement becoming an adoptive placement. 

It is an offence for any person to arrange for the adoption of a child without the involvement of a local authority or registered adoption agency unless the child is related to the applicant or has been living with the applicant for 12 months or more.

This procedure relates to adoption applications made in those circumstances. This will cover applications made by civil partners or newly married partners of an adoptive parent where previously a joint Adoption Order could not be made because the couple were not married.

Adoption applications in relation to children from overseas are dealt with in Inter Country Adoptive parents Procedure.


Contents

  1. Notifications
  2. Local Authority Duty to Supervise a Child
  3. Court Request for Report
  4. Parental Consent
  5. Children's Wishes and Feelings
  6. The Applicants
  7. Alternatives to Adoption
  8. Adoption Hearing
  9. After the Court Process


1. Notifications

Applicants for adoption, where the placement has not been made by a local authority or an adoption agency, must notify the local authority for the area where they live of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order.

Any such notification should be sent to the Business Manager for Assessment, Safeguarding and Support Services. The manager must arrange for the notification to be acknowledged and allocate the case to a social worker; the child may become within the definition of a "privately fostered child".

An Adoption Order cannot be made until at least 3 months after the notification is received.


2. Local Authority Duty to Supervise a Child

On receipt of a notification the District Team for the area where the adoptive applicants live must allocate the case to a social worker who must supervise the child until an Adoption Order is made. The social worker must meet the qualifications and experience criteria set out in Adoption Panel Procedure.

The aim of the supervision is:

  • To ensure the child is well cared for and in receipt of appropriate health and education services
  • To support the prospective adopters and help them focus on the task of integrating the child into their family.

All visits should be recorded, including whether the child was seen and if so, whether the child was seen alone.

The allocated social worker should advise the prospective adopters of the need for them to provide medical reports on themselves and the child (unless one of the applicants is a birth parent), to accompany their adoption application. The social worker should attempt to obtain medical information on the birth parents (Forms A and M) and a neo-natal report on the child if under 5 years old. The social worker should send the medical information to the Adoption Panel administrative staff to pass to the Medical Adviser to the Adoption Panel for comment.

The social worker should also arrange through the Adoption and Fostering Unit for Disclosure and Barring Service checks to be carried out on the prospective adopters and any member of the household aged 16 or over.

Except where one or both of the applicants is a relative of the child, the social worker should ask the prospective adopters for the names of two personal referees, whom the social worker should interview.

During the period of involvement, the social worker may contact the Adoption and Fostering Unit for advice, if required.


3. Court Request for Report

Where a Court receives an adoption application in relation to an adoptive placement not arranged by the local authority or another adoption agency, the Court will notify the local authority and request a Court Report be prepared and submitted to the Court within 6 weeks.

The allocated social worker responsible for the supervision of the child will be responsible for preparing the Court Report, which should address the issues set out in the following paragraphs. See Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship Guidance for a full list of the required contents of the Report.

Once completed, the social worker should send the report to Legal Services for checking and submission to the Court within the 6 weeks timescale.


4. Parental Consent

The adoptive applicants will have to indicate in their adoption application whether or not the parents consent to the application. If the parents do not consent, it is for the applicants to ask the Court to dispense with the agreement of the parent or parents.

The social worker preparing the Court Report should attempt to interview both parents in relation to the adoption application and ascertain their views. 


5. Children's Wishes and Feelings

The social worker should speak to the child to ascertain his or her wishes and feelings in relation to the adoption and report on these to the Court. Where the child is not aware of the adoption application, the social worker should discuss with the prospective adopters the best way to address this so that the child's views can be obtained.

The discussion with the child should address any confusion on the part of the child in relation to the implications of an Adoption Order for example where the adoptive applicant is a relative.


6. The Applicants

The report will need to comment on the strength and duration of any new family relationships, particularly in the case of an adoption application by a step parent. Where there is limited evidence of the strength and stability of the relationship, the applicants should be advised to consider deferring the application until there is more evidence of stability.

In addition, alternatives to adoption should be discussed and explored with the applicants, who should be encouraged to consider them.

For example where the main concern is the child's name, the applicants should be advised to seek legal advice on how to achieve this without the need for an Adoption Order.


7. Alternatives to Adoption

The report should address any alternatives to adoption, which may offer a better framework for the child and the birth parents' future role.

For guidance on other options, see Permanence Planning Guidance. Although the subject of the report is not a Looked After Child, the principles and options set out in the guidance will apply.


8. Adoption Hearing

The social worker who has prepared the Court Report should attend the adoption hearing.


9. After the Court Process

Once the adoption proceedings are complete, the social worker should send the file on the matter to the Adoption and Fostering Unit for storage in the Adoption Archives.

End