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4.3.3 Adoption of Children Looked After

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

These guidance notes are designed to help staff plan the work and ensure all the correct steps are taken achieving a successful adoption. They are not a substitute for the procedures, which should be read.

The Adoption Team Managers and the Panel Manager are available to assist and advise. Social workers are also able to access advice via the Adoption Advice Line (0113 3952072).

AMENDMENT

This guidance was updated in December 2014 to take account of the changes in the Adoption Agencies (Panel and Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2012. This includes the removal of the requirement for children subject to Interim Care Orders and with a potential Care Plan for adoption to be presented to Adoption Panel. This was introduced to reduce delays in placing children for adoption.


Contents

  1. Routes to Placing a Child for Adoption
  2. The Aim of Your Work
  3. Counselling of Natural or Birth Parent/s
  4. Counselling the Child
  5. Medical Information
  6. The Adoption Decision Process
  7. The Post Decision Process
  8. Matching with Adopter/s
  9. Placements
  10. Post Placement Work


1. Routes to Placing a Child for Adoption

There are two routes to placing a child for adoption. Since 1st September 2012, children subject to child care proceedings have had their cases presented directly to the Agency Decision Maker for consideration regarding their suitability for adoption.

Children who are relinquished for adoption will continue to be presented to the Adoption Panel, who will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker regarding the child’s suitability for adoption. This recommendation is then considered by the Agency Decision Maker, who confirms their final decision regarding the appropriateness of the adoption plan.

See Working with Birth Parent-Relinquished Baby Procedure for additional information.

An appointment with the Agency Decision Maker or at Adoption Panel can be booked by emailing the SSD Adoption Panel Admin inbox with a booking request.


2. The Aim of Your Work

The aim of you work is:

  1. Securing the agreement of the Agency Decision Maker or Adoption Panel that adoption is in the best interest of the child and the child should be placed for adoption;
  2. Matching the child with an appropriate adoptive placement; and
  3. Successfully applying to court for placement order if necessary and ultimately an Adoption Order.


3. Counselling of Natural or Birth Parent/s

  1. You must explain fully what adoption means and what the Local Authority plans for the child. You must offer birth parents independent counselling via PAC (formerly After Adoption Yorkshire). For further information see the PAC UK website;
  2. Alternatives to adoption. Are you quite certain that adoption is the best plan for the child? Could a parental responsibility order, special guardianship order or Child Arrangements Order be used;
  3. You must explain to the birth parents that they have a right to oppose the department's plans and that they should seek legal advice if necessary.


4. Counselling the Child

The child needs to be well prepared for permanent placement, especially if she or he has had little stability in the past. Adoption and what it means should be explained using a variety of materials, books, puppets, play-people, photographs and Life Story work etc. Even a very small child can grasp the concept of a "keeping safe" family. The sort of family she or he would like should also be discussed. You will need to consider the many different family compositions and explain these to the child.


5. Medical Information

Every child is required to have a pre-adoption health assessment. This will be arranged by the area admin team attached to the child’s social worker and can be done at the request of the child’s social worker. It is necessary for the pre-adoption medical to be booked before the social worker is able to book a panel date or a slot with the Agency Decision Maker for their child to be considered regarding their suitability for adoption.

The background social history information as detailed on the referral is vital before the medical can be arranged. Form PH provides basic background information on the child's parents and should be completed in conjunction with the parent and sent with the pre-adoption medical request along with the background information. It is essential that the information is sent as soon as possible, and that the social work team allow for up to eight weeks between sending the request for the medical and the date the child is due to be considered as suitable for adoption by the Agency Decision Maker or the Adoption Panel. Once returned, a copy of the medical will need to be sent via secure email to the Adoption Panel Administrator.

The medical information needs to have been completed within the six months prior to the information being presented to the Agency Decision Maker or Adoption Panel. If the information is older than six months, an up-dating pre-adoption medical will need to be requested using the process above.


6. The Adoption Decision Process

The reports and process for both routes to adoption are broadly the same and are composed of three parts:

  1. Reports
    A Child Placement Report (CPR) must be completed on the child and presented to either the Agency Decision Maker or the Adoption Panel with all relevant specialist reports. When matching is proposed, an Adoption Placement Report (APR) must also be prepared. An up to date copy of the child’s pre-adoption medical will need to be available to the Agency Advisor prior to the meeting;

    All reports must be returned to the section 10 working days before the panel meeting
  2. Presentation
    You will be required to attend the Agency Decision Maker meeting or the Adoption Panel meeting to speak to your reports. Dates for future meetings are available from the Fostering and Adoption section. Social workers with less than three years post qualifying experience should always be accompanied by their team manager;
  3. Placements
    A Placement for the child will normally be identified from within the department. The agency has a dedicated adoption Family Finding Team who will work with the social worker regarding suitable placement options for the child.


7. The Post Decision Process

There is a legal requirement to inform the natural parent of the Agency Decision Maker or Adoption Panel's decision.

  1. Letters for the child's parents will be prepared by the Fostering and Adoption section and forwarded to you for personal delivery;

    When you have delivered the letters please confirm this with the adoption section by using the acknowledgement slip attached to the letters;
  2. Court Reports
    1. If a Placement Order has been recommended by the Agency Decision Maker, it will be necessary for an application to court to be made by Legal, in conjunction with an Annex B report by the Social Worker;

      If a Placement Order is not appropriate and when the child has been placed with adoptive parents, under section 19 or 20, an Annex A report must be prepared and lodged with the court soon after the adopters have made their application to court.


8. Matching with Adopter/s

It is important that you notify the adoption team managers when a placement order has been made. You may have had a family finder allocated to you where there are likely to be difficulties in identifying an adoptive family for your child and the family finder will liaise with you, see Family Finding Role and Procedure.

The Adoption Team Manager will identify any suitable adoptive placements and a summary of the Prospective Adopter's Report (PAR) will be forwarded to you if you wish to pursue a placement. Close liaison with the relevant Adoption Social Worker or family finder is essential. Any proposed 'match' should be considered as a matter of urgency as adopters can be suggested for more than one child at a time. It is important to choose one family initially. If you are in the position where you have two families that could meet the needs of the child and you wish to visit the two families, this should be discussed with each adoption social worker for the families. This would be the exception rather than the rule.


9. Placements

If the panel have recommended the matching of a child with a family and this has been agreed by the agency decision maker, it will be necessary to call a Placement Planning Meeting. An Adoption Placement Plan should be prepared after this meeting and the contents viewed and agreed by all parties. This meeting will usually be convened and chaired by the Adoption Service. The Meeting will give attention to:

  • Planning introductions;
  • Setting timescales;
  • Provisions of support and contact;
  • On-going work.


10. Post Placement Work

a) Child b) Adopters c) Birth Parents

  1. The social worker must visit the child within the first week of the adoption placement;

    Thereafter visits should be at least every week for four weeks as agreed by the placement planning meeting until the first review, when the level of future support visits can be discussed. The visits can be shared with the Adoption Social Worker including written records of each worker’s visit;

    The child must have full information about his family of origin and background. This is presented in the form of a Later Life Letter for the child to read when the adoptive parents feel it is appropriate and also a Life Story book. The adoptive parents must be comfortable with discussing the contents of both these sources of information, so it is important that they have viewed them and are aware of the contents;

    A child care review must be held 28 days after placement. Thereafter child care reviews must be held after three months and then held at least every six months;
  2. Adoptive parents - support should be given to the adoptive parents during visits to the child. They may well need time to speak with you alone. The family’s adoption social worker will also offer continuing support;

    Continuing support, after an adoption order is made, should be carefully discussed before the adoption is finalised;
  3. Birth Parents

    The Social Worker should visit the birth parents to inform them of the placement and to give general non-identifying information on the family, if this has not already been done;

    No identifying information should be given, birth parents must be kept informed/ counselled as long as is needed and usually until the adoption order is made. They should be encouraged to seek support from PAC-UK (formerly After Adoption Yorkshire), either individually or as part of a birth parent programme. They should be advised of the completion of an adoption order unless they have decided that they do not wish to be notified of the final adoption hearing;

    Please note that this is intended to be a guide only and should be read in conjunction with the procedures. Please feel free to contact the Adoption Service for further advice and information using the adoption advice line.

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