View Safeguarding Procedures View Safeguarding Procedures

4.1.16 Working with Birth Parent-Relinquished Baby Procedure

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

All relevant forms can be found in the Resources and Forms Library which can be accessed via the button on the left of the screen.

AMENDMENT

In December 2015, this chapter was reviewed locally and updated as required.


Contents

  1. Requests for Service
  2. Counselling
  3. Arrangement for Placement
  4. Following Baby’s Birth
  5. Following Discharge From Hospital
  6. Advance Notification
  7. Placement Planning
  8. Direct Placement with Adoptive Parents
  9. Withdrawal of Consent
  10. Arrangements for Placement with Adoptive Parents


1. Requests for Service

Requests for service will typically be regarding an unborn child or a very young baby and are likely to be via a health professional or self-referral to the contact centre and then passed to the relevant area field work team. Requests for service must be taken through the contact centre and must contain the relevant details regarding the birth parents and the child - including the reasons why adoption is being considered.

The allocating team manager will appoint a social worker and also contact the adoption team manager to request appointment of an adoption social worker to co-work and offer counselling to the birth parent. A Child and Family Assessment will be undertaken and will be entered on Mosaic within seven working days of receipt of the referral. In relinquished baby adoption the area team social worker will complete this Child and Family Assessment and send to Decision and Review Panel (DARP). All case recording will be entered onto Mosaic. As the information is highly sensitive, the social worker must contact the Mosaic team to request that the record is ‘shielded’. All case recording will be entered onto Mosaic and this will become the child’s adoption file. The social worker will need to email the SSD Adoption Panel Admin inbox to formally refer the child for adoption, and the child will be entered into the agency’s list of children referred for adoption, with a note that they are a relinquished baby.


2. Counselling

The initial counselling interview will be undertaken jointly by the child’s social worker and adoption social worker, and will normally be with the birth parent(s) and, if very young, their parent(s). The focus of this interview will be a general discussion of adoption and its legal and emotional implications and a discussion of available alternatives. It should be emphasised that discussion about adoption is not a commitment to proceed.

The social worker and adoption social worker will need to get to know the parent/s properly so that they can plan for the child. Any questions asked by the parents need to be answered honestly with plenty of reassurance, particularly if there are other children in the family, that they will not be ‘taken’ too.

The parent(s) must be given the adoption memorandum (Information for Birth Parents about Adoption). Their acknowledgement, when given, should be placed on the adoption case file.

It is usual to include the father of the child in the counselling process. The birth mother should be encouraged to provide the father's name. His consent to adoption will be required if he has parental responsibility. When determining whether to contact a father without Parental Responsibility when the mother does not wish to disclose his identity, the following criteria must be considered:

  • The nature of the child’s relationship with the father;
  • The nature and extent of the father’s relationship with the mother and any siblings;
  • Whether failure to disclose to the father would constitute a contravention of Article 8 of the Convention (concerning respect for private and family life);
  • The child will require background information, including health information regarding his/her father.

Reasons for not involving the father must be discussed with the social work team manager, the adoption team manager and legal services. Any decision must be recorded on Mosaic. Where the father’s identity cannot be established or the case is complex, legal advice must be sought as soon as possible to ensure that there is no unnecessary delay for the child.

Further interviews will be essential to continue the counselling process and should lead to a decision being made by the parent(s). Counselling should continue and issues to be explored would include:

  • Contact (e.g. while the child is Accommodated pending adoption and post adoption);
  • Separation and loss;
  • Emphasise legal process and finality of adoption;
  • Family medical information;
  • Comprehensive background history for the child;
  • Alternatives to adoption e.g. extended family members, short term foster care with the aim of returning the child with support or staying with the parent from birth;
  • Avenues of support for the parent(s);
  • Meeting the adoptive parent(s) / contact post adoption;
  • Choice of family;
  • Inform of child's rights - access to information provision (useful to record reaction on file). National Contact Register & Leeds Adoption Contact Register.

Every effort must be made to elicit comprehensive family health background information - using BAAF medical forms. Information from both parents needs to be obtained.

If the plan remains adoption (50% of mothers do change their minds during counselling or in the week after the baby’s birth) explain to the parents that the child is likely to remain in placement with the temporary foster carers for at least six weeks in order that counselling can continue and the child’s medical can be arranged.

The emphasis upon urgent planning is strong: in some cases it may be feasible with enough preparation for the adoption panel to be ready to consider the case within a day or so of the birth and the agency decision maker to make the decision the same day. Upon the child’s birth, additional counselling must be offered to ensure adoption remains the plan; and if so, whether the child should be placed with particular adopters.


3. Arrangement for Placement

The social worker will make a referral to fostering duty desk for a fostering placement using the request for placement form. Once a foster carer is identified, offer the birth parents an opportunity to meet the foster carer if appropriate. It may also be appropriate to consider placement of the child under early permanence regulations, placing the child at birth with prospective adopters approved as early permanence carers/temporary foster carers for the specific child. This opportunity may reduce potential moves for the child and should be considered as part of the counselling process. See also Fostering for Adoption, Concurrent Planning and Temporary Approval as Foster Carers of Approved Prospective Adopters.

The placement must conform to the Care Planning, Case and Placement Review (England) Regulations 2010 and the appropriate Children Looked After forms should be completed. The mother needs to give consent for the child to be accommodated by signing the placement agreement and the medical consent form. The treatment delegation form gives consent for all necessary medical treatment for the child whilst accommodated. These should be signed by the social work team manager and distributed to all concerned.

Also see:

Adoption Panel Procedure

Placement for Adoption Procedure


4. Following Baby’s Birth

Following the birth of the baby the mother can decide whether to care for the baby or request segregation from the baby whilst in hospital. It is usual for the mother to opt for the latter arrangement. The adoption social worker should see the mother separately and privately as soon as possible after birth.

The parent/s should be encouraged to see the baby but must not be forced to (arrangements can be made for the parent/s to see the baby at the prospective foster carer home). The parent/s do not need to provide anything for the baby but can and may wish to do so. On discharge the mother will leave the baby in the hospital. The birth parent/s must be advised of the services of PAC UK (formally After Adoption Yorkshire) and provided with service literature.

The social worker must arrange for the baby to be discharged to pre adoption foster parents or early permanence carers, usually within 24 hours of birth. It is useful for the prospective foster carer/s to visits the baby in hospital prior to discharge but this must be done in consultation with the birth parent/s, the hospital and the carer/s.

It is also desirable for the foster carer to be present with the adoption social worker to discharge the baby from hospital. On discharge the hospital ward should be given details of the proposed foster carers' name, address and contact number and the foster carers' GP. A letter for the community midwife and GP will be given to the foster carers when baby is discharged.

Prior to or on discharge BAAF medical forms M and B should be presented to the ward for completion by the paediatrician or senior nurse responsible for the child and the mother. These should be presented with the consent form signed by the birth parent. Often mother and baby are placed on different wards and so different medical professionals may need to complete the forms.

It is important that these forms are completed before discharge as the medical notes are not readily available at a later date.


5. Following Discharge from Hospital

The social worker will complete a notice of movement form when the baby is accommodated to trigger foster carer payments and also inform the independent reviewing officer manager of the baby's accommodation and request the allocation of an Independent Reviewing Officer to undertake the 28 day review. The social worker needs to request that the appropriate statutory notifications of placement be sent out by admin as soon as the child becomes accommodated. The social worker must complete statutory visits throughout the whole period that the child is looked after with the first visit being within one week of the placement starting. See Social Worker Visits Procedure.

5.1 Subsequent Interviews

Counselling with the parent/s should continue following the birth of the baby. Parent/s can see the baby at any time and this will need to be arranged with the foster carer. They will need to be kept informed of the baby’s progress and well being and can be provided with photographs if they wish.

The parent/s should be asked to provide photos, a letter explaining the reasons for the adoption and family history details for the child. The adoption social worker and social worker for the child must discuss the plan for the baby’s long term care as the parent/s wishes are important and should be considered where possible. For example, religious and cultural considerations and any geographical difficulties with regard to the extended family and prospective adopters. If placing the baby with early permanence carers at birth, these considerations should be taken into account as part of the pre-birth planning process.

The parent(s) should be advised of the need to register the child's birth as soon as possible - this is a legal requirement. The long birth certificate is required for adoption purposes and should be given to the social worker. CSWS is able to pay for this. Parents are likely to want their own copy and they should be advised to request two certificates at the time of registration. Additional certificates can be purchased from the Registry office up until the time of the Adoption Order.

All counselling work must be fully recorded on Mosaic. Correspondence from the birth parents must be kept on file. Section 19 & section 20 consent forms can be shown and discussed during the counselling process, so that the parent/s are aware exactly what they will be required to sign to give consent to adoption. The relevant forms can be found in the Resources and Forms Library which can be accessed via the button on the left of the screen.

Once a decision for adoption has been made by the birth parent/s, and shortly after the baby is born, an adoption panel date should be booked and information required for the child permanence report should be collected. It is advisable to gain as much information as soon as you can whilst the birth parent is continuing to engage. The report should be discussed with the birth parent/s and their wishes clearly recorded. The report content must be read and signed by the social work team manager.

5.2 Health Assessment of the Child

A pre-adoption health assessment of the child should be arranged at six weeks by the child’s social work area admin team by sending the following to child health:

  • Completed request for medical assessment form;
  • BAAF medical forms M and B;
  • BAAF PH forms completed by the birth parents regarding their own medical history.

These forms can be accessed via the Resources and Forms Library.


6. Advance Notification

  • As soon as counselling has been offered to the birth parents and they indicate;
  • That they intend to consent to the child being placed for adoption, advance notification of this should be sent to the Children and Family Court Advisory; and
  • Support Service (CAFCASS) using standard letter 1 (which can be accessed via the button on the left of the screen).


7. Placement Planning

Birth parent/s should be involved in discussions around suitable adoptive families. They should have the opportunity to share views on what they would like in a family and if appropriate be shown profiles of possible families. Again this may be considered as part of the pre-birth planning process if the child is to be placed with early permanence carers.

Following recommendation at adoption panel and confirmation from the agency decision maker that the child should be placed for adoption, the birth parent/s should be advised that if they still wish plans for adoption to be made, a CAFCASS officer will contact them. Refer to Schedule 2 Information and Documents. Standard letter 2 (these letters can be accessed via the button on the left of the screen) should be sent to CAFCASS with:

  • A certified copy of the child's birth certificate;
  • All parts of completed CPR any other information the agency considers the CAFCASS officer should know.

The CAFCASS officer will need to make arrangements to interview the birth parent(s) to be satisfied that the consequences of giving consent are fully understood and that they are willing to do so unconditionally. The CAFCASS officer will then need to witness the formal signing by the parent(s). If a family for the child has been identified the birth parent(s) can give written Section 19 consent for the child to be placed with this specific family when they meet with the CAFCASS officer.

The original signed Section 19 and 20 consent forms should be returned to the agency, along with written notification from the CAFCASS officer (who should keep a copy of this) that consent has been given. It is important that the agency safeguards the original consent form as this will be required by court with the adoption application.

The agency should also keep a copy of the signed consent form on the child's case record and any notice given to the agency that the parent/s does not wish to be informed of any application for an Adoption Order and any notice of withdrawal of this request.


8. Direct Placement with Adoptive Parents

If the birth parent wishes a baby, aged less than six weeks, to be placed directly with adoptive parents, written agreement to the placement must be obtained on the agreement to place directly for adoption form (which can be accessed via the button on the left of the screen)

The agency should provide additional counselling for the parent/s and make it clear both orally and in writing that the parent/s retains full parental responsibility until they give their written consent under section 19 and or 20 of the Act. Also see: Placement for Adoption Procedure, Section 4, Counselling and Support for Parents.


9. Withdrawal of Consent

The child's parent or guardian is able to withdraw their consent to the child's placement for adoption at any time up to the point where the prospective adopters apply for an Adoption Order by writing to the agency.

On receiving the notice of withdrawal of consent the authority is required to immediately review its decision to place the child for adoption. The authority may decide to apply for a Placement Order, having taken legal advice to ensure that the conditions for this are satisfied. This would prevent the child's removal until such time as the court has decided whether to make the Placement Order.

Where consent to placement has been given and withdrawn but the child is not yet placed for adoption, then the child must be returned to the parents within seven days unless the authority decides to apply for a Placement Order.

Where the child is placed for adoption by consent under section 19 of the Act and that consent is withdrawn, the child must be returned to the agency by the prospective adopters within 14 days, and the agency must return the child to the parents, unless the authority decides to apply for a Placement Order.

It is an offence for anyone other than the agency (in sections 33 and 34 cases, only a local authority) to remove a child where the child:

  • Is placed for adoption with the parents' consent under section 19 of the Act;
  • Is placed for adoption and either the child is less than six weeks of age or the agency has at no time been authorised to place the child for adoption;
  • Is not yet placed for adoption and is being accommodated by the local authority and the authority has applied for a placement order and the application has not yet been disposed of;
  • Is not yet placed but the agency is authorised under section 19 of the Act or would be if consent to placement had not been withdrawn;
  • It is the responsibility of the child’s worker and the prospective adopter’s adoption social worker to ensure that the prospective adopters are fully aware of the implications should consent be withdrawn. This must be explained before the child is placed.


10. Arrangements for Placement with Adoptive Parents

Where a ‘Should be placed for adoption’ (SHoBPA) decision has been made the agency should begin family finding immediately with a view to achieving a placement for adoption very soon after birth.

It is good practice for 19 and/or section 20 to have been signed and witnessed by CAFCASS before the adoption social worker discusses the baby with prospective adopters. Adoption panels are only able to recommend a match once the birth parents have given their formal written consent to adoption with a CAFCASS officer, however the plan for the child and the match can be heard at the same panel.

Once a match has been agreed by the agency decision maker, a placement planning meeting will be held and the relevant statutory notifications must be processed by the adoption administrator.

See Placement for Adoption Procedure, Section 9, Planning the Placement.

The prospective adopters can apply to court for the making of an adoption order 10 weeks after placement and if the child care review has recommended this.

The adoption order hearing will be in two parts, so that the birth parent/s do not attend with the adopters. The social worker will accompany the adopter/s and the baby to court for the adoption celebration hearing, which is usually the next day. The court will officially notify the birth parents of the outcome and the social worker will also confirm the outcome in writing to the birth parent/s.

The adoption service does not normally continue to see the birth parents following the adoption hearing but can offer further advice and support if required or preferably refer them to PAC UK (formally After Adoption Yorkshire).

On-going supervision of the baby’s placement will end after the adoption hearing, however, the adoption social worker should contact the adoptive parent/s after three and six months to ensure that the placement is going well and continue to offer support and assistance if required.

The congratulations letter and evaluation questionnaire should be sent out to the adopter/s after the adoption hearing.

End