National Adoption Week 2019 takes place from the 14th to 20th October.
The campaign always aims to find homes for those children who so desperately need them but the focus for 2019 will be on the adopter.
Your decision to adopt has the potential to change a child’s life and yours.
Adoption transfers all legal parental rights and responsibilities to the adoptive parents. The birth parents of the child lose all legal access to their child once an adoption order is approved by the courts. Adoptive children may keep in contact with some of their birth relatives if agreed during the adoption process – but the child’s safety and wellbeing is the first priority.
Parental consent must be considered:
- Firstly, when the court is making a decision about whether to grant a local authority a Placement Order, which would give the local authority the authorisation to place the child with prospective adopters
- Then again, when the court comes to consider making a final adoption order.
However, the court can issue an Adoption Order without Parental Consent if the parent or guardian cannot be found or lacks the capacity or the welfare of the child requires it to be dispensed of. If refusal to give consent initially and the Local Authority or Adoption Agency feel it is in the child’s best interests to be adopted, they can apply for a Placement Order. The court must be satisfied that the child is under a or the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. The court will also consider the ‘ Welfare Checklist‘.
If your child is in the care of a local authority and you believe that adoption is being considered, it is important to seek advice as soon as possible.
Placement Order for Adoption
Once a Placement Order has been issued, it is very difficult to oppose adoption. The adoption can only be opposed if it can be shown that there has been a change of circumstances. Permission is required to make this application if a Placement Order has already been issued. Sometimes a parent may wish to consider proposing to the court alternative arrangements if there are family members able to care for the child. The courts could consider issuing a Special Guardianship Order or a Child Arrangements Order. This would ensure that the parent(s) maintain Parental Responsibility for the child.
Whether an adoption is undertaken via an adoption agency or by making an application direct to court after giving notice to the local authority, the final part of the process is the court hearing to consider the application for an Adoption Order.
Adoption Court Hearing
You can apply for the Adoption Order on form A58, also available from your local Family Court. The applicant will be the prospective adopter(s).
The respondents will be each person with Parental Responsibility for the child (unless they have given notice stating that they do not wish to be informed of any adoption), any person who is named in a Child Arrangements Order as a person with whom the child is to have contact or spend time with, any Local Authority or adoption agency connected with the child’s adoption, and in some circumstances the child.
Where the child is a party, they will normally be represented by a child’s guardian and a solicitor for the child must be appointed. If the child has a guardian, they will produce a report to the court of what they believe to be in the child’s best interests.
Children’s Services or the Adoption Agency will be required to file their assessment to the court. This assessment will be about the prospective adopter(s) and their suitability to adopt and the child, their views and a background of the case.
The court will hold a first directions hearing, at which a number of issues will be considered with a view to ensuring the case is properly prepared for a.
If the parent opposes the making of an adoption order, there will be a final hearing at which the principle issue is likely to be whether or not the parent’s consent to adoption should be dispensed with.
The court must also consider all other orders available to them and must not make an order for Adoption unless making the order would be better for the child than not doing so.
Where an adoption order is to be made, the court will usually hold an adoption ceremony, when adoptive parents, wider family members and the child can attend the court for the adoption certificate to be handed over.
After adoption, the child becomes a new member of the adoptive family and receives the same rights as if he or she were born into that family.
If you are going through the adoption process or thinking about it and require further advice please contact our family department to see if we can help you.