View Lincolnshire SCB Procedures View Lincolnshire SCB Procedures

3.9.13 Non Agency Adoptions

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure applies to applications in relation to adoptive placements that have not been arranged by a 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 or partners of a birth parent, 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. 

In relation to 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 applicant(s) 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.

Inter country adoptions relating to families in Lincoln are dealt with by an independent organisation.

This chapter was amended in February 2010 to include the administrative arrangements for non-agency adoptions.


Contents

  1. Initial Contact 
  2. Notifications 
  3. Medical Information 
  4. Other Checks 
  5. Local Authority Duty to Supervise a 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 request for advice is received by letter, telephone or in person in relation to a non-agency adoption or notification of intention to adopt is received, referrals should be sent to the Customer Services Centre to be put on MOSAIC and then to the adoption team.

Those enquiring about step-parent/partner adoption should be sent the BAAF leaflet ‘Step children and adoption (England and Wales)’ which highlights the issues in step parent adoptions. This includes the explanation of alternatives such as the birth parents making a will appointing the step-parent as the child’s Testamentary Guardian on the death of the parent.

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

  1. Alternatives to adoption - find out why an Adoption Order is being sought and offer information about alternatives such as Special Guardianship Orders or Child Arrangements Orders, a change of the child’s name and, in the case of step-parents, Parental Responsibility Orders;
  2. The child’s need to know that s/he is adopted and have information about the birth family;
  3. The requirement for the consent of parents with Parental Responsibility to be obtained and the fact that this will be the responsibility of the applicant, and not the local authority;
  4. The role of the Reporting Officer and Children’s Guardian in the Court proceedings;
  5. The requirement to notify the local authority of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order.

If it is clear that the prospective applicants do not fulfil the criteria of Domicile/Habitual Residence in the UK, the duty social worker should advise them to obtain legal advice.


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 and not more than two years before the date of the adoption application.

Any such notification received in relation to Step Parent/Partner Adoptions should be passed to the Adoption Team. The relevant Practice Supervisor from the Adoption Team will arrange for the notification to be acknowledged and allocated at the appropriate time. The allocated worker must fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria set out in Section 5, Adoption Panel Minutes of Adoption Panel Procedure.

Upon receipt of the notification, where the child comes within the definition of a Privately Fostered child, the local authority will have a duty to supervise the welfare of the child - see Section 5, Local Authority Duty to Supervise a Child below. 

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


3. Medical Information

Except where the application is by a step parent in which case a medical report is not required, the allocated 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 allocated social worker will provide the applicants with the relevant BAAF 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 allocated social worker to the Medical Adviser for comment. These comments should then 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 allocated social worker should arrange for a Disclosure and Barring Service check to be undertaken on the applicant(s) and any member of the household aged 18 or over. Forms should be left for the prospective adopters to complete as soon as practicable after notification of an intention to adopt is received.

Consent should also be obtained for checks to be carried out with the local authority, Probation and the health trust - and the necessary checks should be made.

Except in the case of an applicant who is a step parent of the child, the prospective adopters should also be asked for the names of two personal referees, whom the allocated social worker should interview.


5. Local Authority Duty to Supervise a Child

On receipt of a notification in relation to a child who comes within the definition of a Privately Fostered child, the allocated Social Worker must supervise the child until an Adoption Order is made in accordance with the local authority’s Private Fostering Procedures, except that, where the child is already known to the local authority (for example where the prospective applicant is the child’s foster carer), the requirements under the Private Fostering Regulations as to the initial visit to the placement will not apply. Visits should be within 1 week of notification of intention to adopt, then at intervals of not more than 6 weeks for the first year of placement and thereafter at intervals of not more than 3 months until an Adoption Order is made.

Unless the applicant is a step-parent or close relative, the child will continue to have the status of a Privately Fostered child until an Adoption Order is made or otherwise until the placement ends. 

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 adopter(s) 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.

Even where the child does not fall within the definition of a Privately Fostered child, the allocated social worker should still visit the applicants and the child at home for the purposes of gathering information for their Court report.

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

Except where the applicant is a step parent or partner of a birth parent, the allocated 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 neo-natal report on the child if under 5 years old. The social worker should send all available medical information to the Medical Adviser for comment.

Prospective applicants should be asked to clarify their intention if there is a delay and no adoption application is lodged. If this is not forthcoming, the Adoption Practice Supervisor 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, the Court will notify the local authority of the hearing date and request an Annex A Report be prepared and submitted to the Court, usually within 6 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 for an extension is identified.

The allocated adoption social worker responsible for the supervision of the child will be responsible for preparing the report, and for this purpose should gather available information on the child and parents - see sections below. 

The allocated worker must fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria set out in Section 5, Adoption Panel Minutes of Adoption Panel Procedure.

Once completed, the allocated social worker should send the Court report to the Adoption Team Manager for approval so that it can be filed with the Court within the required timescale.


7. Parental Consent

The adoptive applicants will have to indicate in their adoption 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. In these circumstances, the Court will appoint a Children's Guardian.

The allocated social worker preparing the 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, 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 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/partner of a birth 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/partner of a birth parent, the allocated social worker should consider the likely need of the child and adoptive family for any adoption support to which they may be entitled. See Adoption Support Procedure. In the case for an application by a step-parent/partner of the birth child the provision of Adoption support is not supplied, however the allocated social worker may provide advice, guidance and base line counselling to the step parent if required.


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 allocated 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 send it to the Adoption Practice Supervisor who will arrange for its safe storage in the Adoption Archives.

End