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5.3.12 Non Agency Adoption

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to applications in relation to adoptive placements that have not been arranged by any local authority or registered adoption agency, other than children brought into the UK for the purposes of adoption. This will include adoption applications by step-parents, 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. There are also some situations where adoption is sought because other permanence options would not be recognised in the country in which the child would subsequently be living.

In relation to all such applications, the residence requirements are as follows:

  • If the applicant or one of the applicants is the partner of the parent of the child, the child must have lived with the applicants continuously for 6 months prior to the application;
  • If the applicants are local authority foster carers, the child must have lived with the applicants continuously for 12 months prior to the application;
  • In any other case, the child must have lived with the applicant(s) for three out of the last five years prior to the application or the Court must have granted leave for an earlier application.

For the procedure in relation to children who have been brought into the UK for the purposes of adoption - see Inter Country Adoption Procedure.

For the contents of the Court report for adoption applications, see Court Reports: Adoption, Placement and Special Guardianship Orders Guidance.

AMENDMENT

In October 2018, this procedure was updated and should be re-read in its entirety as it is reflective of local practice.


Contents

  1. Initial Contact
  2. Notifications
  3. Medical Information
  4. Other Checks
  5. Duty to Supervise the Child
  6. Court Request for 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 a Cambridgeshire resident requests information regarding a non-agency adoption, the matter should be referred to Cambridgeshire County Council's Kinship Team Manager. They will arrange for the case to be allocated to the relevant person to undertake this work, including for Step-Parent Adoption applications. For adoption by Foster Carers, this is undertaken by Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption Family Finding Team on behalf of the local authority.

The prospective applicants should be offered information and advice on the adoption process and the implications of adoption, including the following:

  • Alternatives to adoption;
  • The child's need to know that they are adopted and have information about their birth family;
  • The requirement for the consent of parents with Parental Responsibility to be obtained;
  • The role of CAFCASS;
  • The requirement to notify the local authority of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order;
  • Arrangements for charging the applicants for completion of DBS and any other chargeable checks.

If it appears that the applicant(s) do not fulfil the criteria of Domicile / Habitual Residence in the UK, the duty social worker should advise them to obtain legal advice.

Where the applicant(s) wish to pursue adoption, the case should be allocated to a social worker in the responsible Service. The allocated worker must fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria set out in Adoption Panel Procedure, Reports to Adoption Panel.


2. Notifications

Applicants for adoption, in the case of non-agency placements, must notify the local authority of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order. This should be sent at least three months, but not more than two years, before the date of the adoption application.

On receipt, usually by the Contact Centre, this must be promptly passed to the Kinship Team Manager who must arrange for the notification to be acknowledged immediately and, if not already allocated, allocate the case to a social worker who must fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria set out in Adoption Panel Procedure, Reports to Adoption Panel.

Upon receipt of the notification, the local authority has a duty to supervise the welfare of the child if they fall within the definition of 'Privately Fostered' - Section 5, Duty to Supervise the Child.

An individual Adoption Case Record must be opened for the child(ren).

As soon as practicable after notification is received, the allocated social worker will provide forms for the prospective adopters to complete to authorise checks for all members of the household aged 18 or over.


3. Medical Information

Except where the application is by a step-parent (in which case a medical report is not required), the social worker will check that the applicants(s) and the child have received a medical examination before the adoption application is submitted.

If medical examinations are required, the social worker will provide the applicants with the relevant CoramBAAF medical forms for completion. These 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 social worker to the Medical Adviser, whose comments must be included in the Court report (see Section 6, Court Request for Report).


4. Other Checks

On receipt of the notification of intention to apply to adopt, the social worker arranges for a Disclosure and Barring Service to be completed on the applicants and any member of their household aged 18 or over. The cost of the check(s) is paid by the applicant(s).

Consent is also required for checks to be carried out with the local authority, Probation and the health trust - and checks should be undertaken.


5. Duty to Supervise the Child

Where the child comes within the definition of Privately Fostered, the Social Worker must supervise the child until an Adoption Order is made in accordance with the Private Fostering Procedure, except that, where the child is already known to the local authority, the requirements under the Private Fostering Regulations as to the initial visit to the placement will not apply.

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 their background and birth family.

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

The social worker should advise the prospective adopters that they must provide medical reports on themselves and the child to accompany their adoption application (see Section 3, Medical Information). The social worker should also seek medical information on the birth parents and a neonatal report on the child, if under 5 years old. They send all available medical information to the Medical Adviser for comment.

The prospective adopters must provide details of two personal referees, whom the social worker will interview.

The child will continue to have the status of 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 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. In any event, after 2 years the notification will lapse.


6. Court Request for Report

Where a Court receives an adoption application in relation to a non-agency adoptive placement, they will notify the local authority of the hearing date and request a Report be prepared and submitted to the Court, usually within 12 weeks of the receipt of the notification. The Court timescales should be clarified at an early stage and if more time is required, a written request must be submitted to the Court as soon as the need is identified.

The social worker responsible for supervising the child will prepare the Report, and for this purpose should gather available information on the child and parents - see sections below.

For the required contents of the report, see Adoption Panel Procedure, Reports to Adoption Panel.

For the contents of the report, see Court Reports: Adoption, Placement and Special Guardianship Orders Guidance.

Once completed, the social worker should send the Court Report to their line manager for approval and then ensure it is filed with the Court within the required timescale.


7. Parental Consent

The applicants must indicate in their application whether or not there is Parental 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 report should plan to interview both birth parents in relation to the adoption application and ascertain their views.

The report should describe the role played so far by the birth parents in the child's life, the level of any current or proposed future involvement, how the child came to be placed with the applicants and the parents' understanding of the implications of an Adoption Order for their future role in relation to the child.


8. Child's Wishes and Feelings

The social worker should speak to the child alone to ascertain their understanding of their situation and their wishes and feelings in relation to 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, particularly where the adoptive applicant is a relative.


9. The Applicants

The report must 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 changing the child's name, the applicants could 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 Social Worker should consider the likely need of the child and adoptive family for adoption support. See Adoption Support 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.


12. Adoption Hearing

The social worker responsible for preparing the 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