Adoption of Children Looked After


These guidance notes are designed to provide an overview of the adoption process and to help staff plan their work and ensure all the correct steps are taken towards achieving a successful adoption.

1. Routes to Placing a Child for Adoption

There are two routes to placing a child for adoption. Since 1st September 2012, children subject to care proceedings have had their cases presented directly to the Agency Decision Maker for consideration regarding their suitability for adoption.

Children who are relinquished for adoption will continue to be presented to the Adoption Panel, who will make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker regarding the child's suitability for adoption. This recommendation is then considered by the Agency Decision Maker, who confirms their final decision regarding the appropriateness of the adoption plan.

See Working with Birth Parent-Relinquished Baby Procedure for additional information.

2. Counselling of Birth Parent/s

  1. The social worker must explain fully what adoption means and what the local authority plans for the child. Birth parents must be offered independent counselling via PAC (formerly After Adoption Yorkshire). For further information see the PAC UK website;
  2. Birth parents must be helped to understand that they have a right to oppose the plan for adoption.

3. Counselling the Child

The child needs to be well prepared for permanent placement, especially if they have had little stability in the past. Adoption and what it means should be explained using a variety of materials, books, puppets, play-people, photographs and Life Story work etc. Even a very small child can grasp the concept of a "keeping safe" family. The sort of family they would like should also be discussed. You will need to consider the many different family compositions and explain these to the child.

4. Medical Information

Every child is required to have a pre-adoption health assessment. It is necessary for the pre-adoption medical to be booked before the social worker is able to book a Panel date or a slot with the Agency Decision Maker for their child to be considered regarding their suitability for adoption.

The background social history information as detailed on the referral is vital before the medical can be arranged. Form PH provides basic background information on the child's parents and should be completed in conjunction with the parent and sent with the pre-adoption medical request along with the background information. It is essential that the information is sent as soon as possible, and that the social work team allow for up to 6 weeks between sending the request for the medical and the date the child is due to be considered as suitable for adoption by the Agency Decision Maker or the Adoption Panel. The medical information needs to have been completed within the 6months prior to the information being presented to the Agency Decision Maker or Adoption Panel. If the information is older than 6 months, an up-dating pre-adoption medical will need to be requested using the process above. See Assessment and Approvals of Prospective Adopters Procedure, Health Checks.

5. The Adoption Decision Process

The reports and process for both routes to adoption are broadly the same and are composed of 3 parts:

  1. Reports
    A Child Placement Report (CPR) must be completed on the child and presented to either the Agency Decision Maker or the Adoption Panel with all relevant specialist reports. When matching is proposed, an Adoption Placement Report (APR) must also be prepared. An up to date copy of the child's pre-adoption medical will need to be completed to the meeting;
    All reports must be returned 14 working days before the panel meeting.
  2. Presentation
    The social worker will be required to attend the Agency Decision Maker meeting or the Adoption Panel meeting to answer any questions about the reports they have prepared. Social workers with less than 3 years post qualifying experience should always be accompanied by their team manager;
  3. Placements
    The Family Finding Team will work with the social worker regarding suitable placement options for the child.

6. The Post Decision Process

There is a legal requirement to inform the birth parent of the Agency Decision Maker or Adoption Panel's decision.

  1. Letters for the child's parents will be prepared by One Adoption West Yorkshire and should be personally delivered by the child's social worker;
  2. Court Reports
    1. If a Placement Order has been recommended by the Agency Decision Maker, it will be necessary for an application to court to be made by Legal, in conjunction with an Annex B report completed by the social worker;
      If a Placement Order is not appropriate and when the child has been placed with adoptive parents, under Section 19 or 20, an Annex A report must be prepared and lodged with the court soon after the adopters have made their application to court.

7. Matching with Adopter/s

It is important that you notify One Adoption when a placement order has been made. You may have had a family finder allocated to you where there are likely to be difficulties in identifying an adoptive family for your child and the family finder will liaise with you, see Family Finding Role and Procedure.

One Adoption will identify up to 3 suitable adoptive placements and a summary of the Prospective Adopter's Report (PAR) will be forwarded to you if you wish to pursue a placement. Close liaison with the relevant family finder is essential. Any proposed 'match' should be considered as a matter of urgency as adopters can be suggested for more than one child at a time. It is important to choose one family initially. If you are in the position where you have two families that could meet the needs of the child and you wish to visit the two families, this should be discussed with each adoption social worker for the families. This would be the exception rather than the rule.

8. Placements

If the Panel have recommended the matching of a child with a family and this has been agreed by the Agency Decision Maker, a Placement Planning Meeting should be arranged. This will be chaired by staff from One Adoption who will prepare an Adoption Placement Plan. The contents of this will need to reviewed and agreed by all parties. The Meeting will give attention to:

  • Planning introductions;
  • Setting timescales;
  • Provisions of support and contact;
  • On-going work.

9. Post Placement Work

a) Child b) Adopters c) Birth Parents

  1. The child's social worker must visit the child within the first week of the adoption placement;

    Thereafter visits should be at least every week for 4 weeks as agreed by Placement Planning Meeting until the first review, when the level of future support visits can be discussed;

    The child must have full information about their family of origin and background. This is presented in the form of a Later Life Letter for the child, completed by the social worker, to read when the adoptive parents feel it is appropriate and also a Life Story book. The adoptive parents must be comfortable with discussing the contents of both these sources of information, so it is important that they have viewed them and are aware of the contents;

    A child care review must be held 28 days after placement. Thereafter child care reviews must be held after 3 months and then held at least every 6 months;

  2. Adoptive parents - support should be given to the adoptive parents during visits to the child. They may well need time to speak with you alone. The family's adoption social worker will also offer continuing support;

    Continuing support, after an adoption order is made, should be carefully discussed before the adoption is finalised;

  3. Birth Parents

    The social worker should visit the birth parents to inform them of the placement and to give general non-identifying information on the family, if this has not already been done;

    No identifying information should be given, birth parents must be kept informed/counselled as long as is needed and usually until the adoption order is made. They should be encouraged to seek support from PAC-UK, either individually or as part of a birth parent programme. They should be advised of the completion of an adoption order unless they have decided that they do not wish to be notified of the final adoption hearing.