3.9.7 Non Agency Adoptions

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, relatives, private foster carers (including where a child has been brought into the UK for the purposes of adoption) or local authority foster carers who have not sought or obtained the local authority's approval for the placement becoming an adoptive placement.

The procedures set out in this Chapter are the responsibility of the adoption team.

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.

It is also an offence for any person to bring a child into the UK for the purposes of adoption without a Home Study report having first been prepared - see Assessment and Approval of Inter Country Adoptive Parents Procedure.


Contents

  1. Initial Contact
  2. Notifications
  3. Medical Information
  4. Other Checks
  5. Local Authority Duty to Supervise a Child
  6. Court Request for Annex A Report
  7. Parental Consent
  8. Child’s Wishes and Feelings
  9. The Applicants
  10. Adoption Support
  11. Alternatives to Adoption
  12. Adoption Hearing
  13. After the Court Process


1. Initial Contact

Where people request advice by letter, telephone or in person in relation to a non-agency adoption, the duty worker must complete a Referral Form WSS1 and offer the enquirer general information. When it is established that the family concerned live in the area, the case should be allocated to a social worker in the adoption team, resources allowing, who should arrange an initial visit to the family to see the prospective adopters together with the subject children. The allocated worker should fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria as set out in Section 5, Reports to Adoption Panel, of the Adoption Panel Procedure.

All families will also be given the opportunity to meet the social worker at the office.

If there is a waiting list, the family will be notified.

Where a foster carer is making a non-agency application to adopt a Walsall Looked After child, with the support of the local authority, the case will be allocated as soon as possible.

At the first visit, the social worker will obtain information about the proposed adoption, explore whether all the alternatives to adoption have been considered and provide information on the adoption process including the need to notify the Director of Children's Social Care Services of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order. Where appropriate, the social worker will leave forms for the prospective adopters to complete for Disclosure and Barring Service checks for all members of the household over 16.


2. Notifications

Applicants for adoption, in the case of non-agency placements, must notify the local authority for the area where they live of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order. The notification should be sent at least three months before the date of the adoption hearing.

Any such notification should be sent to the manager of the adoption team. The manager must arrange for the notification to be acknowledged and, if not already allocated, allocate the case to a social worker.

  1. The child will have the status of a Privately Fostered Child and the local authority will have a duty to supervise the welfare of the child - see Section 5, Local Authority Duty to Supervise Child

    (This replaces the previous status of 'the protected child').

An Adoption Case Record should be opened for the child or each of the children involved.

If it is clear that the applicants do not fulfil the requirement as to Domicile or Habitual Residence in the UK, the social worker should advise them to obtain legal advice.


3. Medical Information

Except in the case of a step parent adoption application, the adoption social worker will check that the applicants and the child have received a medical examination before the adoption application is made.

If medical examinations are required, the adoption social worker will provide the applicants with the relevant BAAF medical forms for completion by their GP. The completed forms should be submitted to the Court with the adoption application and the Court will send copies to the local authority when a Court report is requested. Upon receipt, the completed medical forms should be passed by the adoption social worker to the Medical Adviser for comment. The comments will then be included in the Court report.


4. Other Checks

On receipt of the notification of intention to apply to adopt, the adoption social worker will arrange Disclosure and Barring Service check on the applicants and members of the household aged over 16.

For all applications, there is also a duty to supervise the placement as set out below.


5. Local Authority Duty to Supervise Child

On receipt of a notification in relation to an intended adoption application, the child becomes a privately fostered child, and the adoption social worker must supervise the child until an Adoption Order is made and the same procedures will apply as for any privately fostered child - see Private Fostering Procedure. Where the child is already known to the local authority, the requirements to carry out an initial visit to the placement will not apply but in all other respects the requirements of the procedure must be carried out.

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 and of providing the child with full information about his or her background and birth family

N.B. The allocated worker should fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria as set out in Section 5, Reports to Adoption Panel, of the Adoption Panel Procedure.

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

Except in the case of a step parent application, the adoption social worker should advise the prospective adopters of the need for them to provide medical reports on themselves and the child, to accompany their adoption application (see Section 3, Medical Information).

The social worker should also attempt to obtain medical information on the birth parents and a neonatal report on the child if under 5 years old. The social worker should send the medical information to the Medical Adviser for comment.

In all cases, the adoption social worker should ask the prospective adopters for the names of two personal referees, whom the social worker should interview.

The child will continue to be a Privately Fostered Child until an Adoption Order is made or until notification is given that the prospective applicants no longer intend to apply to adopt. Prospective applicants should be asked to clarify their intentions if there is a delay and no adoption application is lodged. If this is not forthcoming, the adoption social worker involved should write to the prospective applicants indicating that unless confirmation is provided of an intention to adopt, it will be assumed that the notification is withdrawn.


6. Court Request for Annex A Report

Where a Court receives an adoption application in relation to a non-agency adoptive placement, the Court will notify the local authority and request a Court report be prepared and submitted to the Court within 6 weeks of the notification.

The adoption social worker responsible for the supervision of the child will be responsible for preparing the Court report, and for this purpose should gather available information on the child and parents - See Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship Guidance for a detailed list of the required contents of the Report.

N.B. The author of the Court Report should fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria as set out in Section 5, Reports to Adoption Panel, of the Adoption Panel Procedure.

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


7. 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 adoption social worker preparing the Annex A Report should attempt to interview both birth parents in relation to the adoption application and ascertain their views. If the parents do not live within a reasonable travelling distance of the authority, the social worker may request that a social worker from the local authority for the area where the birth parents now live interview them.

The Annex A Report should address the significance of the role played so far by the birth parents in the child's life and the implications of an Adoption Order for any future parental role.


8. Child'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 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.


9. 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.


10. Adoption Support

Other than an application by a step parent, the adoption social worker should consider the likely need of the child and adoptive family for adoption support. See Adoption Support Services Procedure.


11. 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 for Looked After Children. Although the subject of the report is not a Looked After child, the principles and options set out in the guidance will apply.


12. Adoption Hearing

The adoption social worker, responsible for preparing the Annex A Report should attend the adoption hearing.


13. After the Court Process

Once the adoption proceedings are complete, the social worker should complete the child's Adoption Case Record and arrange for its safe storage in the Adoption Archives.

End