Non Agency Adoption

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Non agency adoption includes all those categories of adoption where the adoption agency and the Adoption Panel do not play a part in the placement of the child for adoption. These are:

  • Partner adoptions (formally known as step parent adoption);
  • Anyone who has had care of the child (for any 3 year period in the past 5 years);
  • Local authority foster carer(s) proceeding without the support of social care.

Please note - Non agency adoption work is completed by One Adoption West Yorkshire for persons living in the local authority areas of Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield. Where the interest is expressed from those residing in Bradford and Leeds, they will be advised to contact their local authority social work teams directly. The court report must be written by an:

  • Employed social worker with at least 3 years post qualifying experience in child care social work, including direct experience of adoption work; or
  • Supervised by a social worker who does; or
  • An independent social worker with this experience; or
  • A student social worker supervised by a social worker with this experience.

All non-agency adoptions have similar characteristics and there is a basic format comprising referral, counselling, provision of written information, assessment and preparation of the Annex A report for court. Depending, however, on the type of non agency adoption, there may be extra elements included in the process and work.

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

Legislative context:

  • Adoption and Children Act 2002;
  • Court Rules (Family Procedure) Adoption 2005;
  • Adoption Support Regulations 2005;
  • The Children's Act 1989;
  • Statutory Instrument 2005 2795 (L22) The Family procedures Adoption Rules;
  • Adoption with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005;
  • Inter Country Adoptions Regulations 2003;
  • Adoptions (Bringing children into the UK) Regulations 2003;
  • Court and Pre Proceedings Guidance 2014;
  • ZH v HS & others (Application to revoke Adoption Order: Procedure in Non-Agency Adoption Placement) 2019.
Caption: Partner Applications"
   
Partner Applications Adoption by Others
Applications by the partner of the parent of a child, i.e. the parent's spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner (partner adoptions, but sometimes inaccurately, referred to as step-parent adoptions) Applications by local authority foster carers where the child has not been placed with them for adoption
Applications by relatives of the child or by private foster carers

S49(4) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 provides for applications for adoption being made before a child is 18 (An application for an adoption order may only be made if the person to be adopted has not attained the age of 18 years on the date of the application), but that then the order can be made any time before the child's 19th birthday in accordance with s47(9)(An adoption order may not be made in relation to a person who has attained the age of 19 year.

On receipt of a notification in relation to a child, the social worker must note:

  • Except where the applicant is a partner or close relative (e.g. aunt or uncle), the child will have the status of a Privately Fostered child until an Adoption Order is made;
  • For the procedure in relation to children who have been brought into the UK for the purposes of adoption, legal advice must be sought before proceeding with the assessment.

AMENDMENT

In June 2021, this procedure was reviewed throughout and updated as required to reflect local processes and the findings in the case of ZH v HS & others (Application to revoke Adoption Order: Procedure in Non-Agency Adoption Placement) 2019.

1. Partner Adoption

Partner adoption comprises the largest category of non-agency adoptions and it is important that this work is completed thoroughly and not seen as a 'rubber stamping' exercise or a fait accompli. Non-agency adoptions are part of our safeguarding role.

The task of the social worker is to ensure that all parties know and are aware of the legal and emotional implications of an Adoption Order, to ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child and the birth parent(s) and to make a recommendation to the court by the furnishing of a report as to whether an Adoption Order should be made in respect of the applicant.

In the first instance, the adoption duty worker will ask where the enquirer resides and, direct, if appropriate, to Bradford or Leeds. OAWY do not undertake this work on behalf of Leeds or Bradford.

Enquiries can only be taken from person’s intending to adopt i.e. not the resident parent or young person.

Where the enquirer is from Calderdale, Kirklees or Wakefield, the duty worker will provide information to enquirers, and discuss the following:

  • Why adoption?
  • Have they considered other options, such as a Child Arrangements Order or Parental Responsibility Order?
  • Position of non-resident parent in this;
  • Contact;
  • Lifelong implications of adoption;
  • The position of other extended family members; and
  • Inheritance issues.

The duty worker will advise about the lesser order principle. The applicant in a partner adoption must have lived with the child for at least 6 months prior to the notification being sent.

The duty worker will take some initial information on an initial enquiry form if the enquirer is requesting more information following the initial counselling over the telephone. It is imperative that the duty worker explains the assessment process with the enquirer in depth including the importance of gaining the views of the non-resident parent. We will always follow up the non-resident parent with or without Parental Responsibility. We require this information for the Annex A report. In such incidents where the non-resident parent does not have PR, the court will not be required to deal with the dispensation of consent. (A parent without PR will be given notice of an adoption hearing, but does not have to be served. If the non-resident parent cannot be traced, that is a matter for the court). The Duty worker will create the child and family on Mosaic and create a workflow for Non-Agency enquiry against the child or children’s record. The Duty worker will email a letter and pack to the enquirer.

For applications by same sex couples, reference must be made to Adoption Statutory Guidance - The Adoption and Children Act 2002 (DfE Feb 2011).

If the applicant or the resident birth parent is British, an Adoption Order will have the effect of conferring British citizenship on the child. In cases where there may be issues around immigration status or nationality, the applicant must inform the Home Office, and the Secretary of State will be informed of the proceedings in case they should want to become a party to the proceedings. This can only be achieved via a court order and as such should be dealt with at the court hearing.

1.1 Referral

When the notice of intention form is returned to the nominated Business Support Officer at Kernel House, it will be viewed as the referral for adoption. This notification will be formally acknowledged by the lead team. The notice of intention to adopt must be given at least 3 months prior to an application for an Adoption Order. The applicant in a partner adoption must have lived with the child for at least 6 months prior to the notification being sent.

The notice indicates the category of non-agency adoption and thus the work to be undertaken. On receipt of the notice, the lead manager will seek to allocate a social worker as soon as practical for an information and counselling visit and ideally will take place no more than 3 weeks from receipt. Often through visits families may decide that adoption is not right for their circumstances and it is best therefore that the family are not waiting a long time for this counselling visit.

The effect of a notice of intention to adopt is that restrictions are made on the child's removal from their home. The child may not be removed for 4 months beginning with the giving of the notice, except by leave of the court or by a local authority or an authorised person. These restrictions also apply after the application for an Adoption Order. The notice of intention to adopt expires after 2 years, if no application for an Adoption Order is made.

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.

The notice regarding adoption may come from either the applicant(s) or the solicitor acting for the applicant(s). In cases where an adoption is likely to be contested or the whereabouts of the legal birth parent(s) is unknown, then the applicant(s) should be advised to engage a solicitor.

1.2 Counselling

Counselling should commence as soon as a social worker is appointed, so that alternative orders to adoption can be explored fully with the child and their family. The court will expect to know why adoption is considered to be the most appropriate option and this must be discussed at an early stage. In particular, the discussion should address the possibility of a Parental Responsibility Order as an alternative to adoption and a means of securing the future for the child. A Parental Responsibility Order application can only be made by the partner if the couple are married or in a civil partnership. An unmarried or cohabiting partner cannot apply for a Parental Responsibility Order. An unmarried partner, or one not in a civil partnership, could acquire parental responsibility by a Child Arrangements Order. A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is not an alternative to adoption and should not be used in partner adoptions. The only exception is where the birth parent is ill and has limited capacity to exercise their parental responsibility and the SGO will allow the partner Parental Responsibility over and above the birth parent.

Information on Partner adoption will already have been sent to the applicants by OAWY; this can be used as a basis for discussion. The purpose of counselling is to ensure that the nature and implications of adoption are understood fully by the child, the prospective adopter(s) and the birth parent(s).

During counselling. the prospective adopter(s), must be made aware of the need to obtain personal details of their family/ies for inclusion in the Annex A report for the court. The birth parent applicant should understand that they will not need to adopt the child with the new partner, as used to be required. The effect of an Adoption Order is that they will share the parental responsibility and all legal rights and duties in respect of the child with the partner.

Following counselling and where it is agreed to progress to An Annex A assessment, the social shall arrange a further visit. During this visit, the Social Worker will take with them the following;

  • Blank / electronic DBS form to be completed during the visit;
  • In the event that the applicant(s) have spent significant time abroad, the local authority should also consider whether for foreign police checks /certificates of good behaviour can and should be obtained or are already available;
  • A blank Annex A form to be left with the prospective adopters for information about the areas which will be covered in the assessment;
  • A list of local family law solicitors should they wish to obtain legal advice;
  • A blank application form (A58) for ease of reference.

During this visit the Social Worker should gather as much information about the birth parents (and anyone else with PR) as is known to the prospective adopters. This should include any known contact information, personal details and last known addresses. This will allow the Social Worker to begin attempting to trace and contact any hard to find birth parent. The assessment of the family should help them think about the effects of an adoption order on themselves, the child, and all members of the birth and adopting families. They should be able to describe to the Social Worker the full legal effects of the making of an adoption order and be able to explain why they prefer this order over all other options.

It will be necessary to ascertain whether the prospective adopter has informed the birth parent(s) (or other parent) of their intention. If they have not done so, the social worker will need to explain the contribution from the (other) birth parent(s) that will be needed, and discuss with the prospective adopter(s) whether they wish themselves to inform the birth parent(s) before the social worker makes contact with them.

The social worker may need to consider:

  1. Using an interpreter – even where people have a reasonable fluency in English, their understanding of the legal options to enable them to care for a child may be limited, and their understanding of the lifelong impact on a child may be difficult to explore;
  2. If there is likely to be difficulty in tracing the birth parent(s) attempts to do so need to be commenced as early as possible and the local authority’s legal team need to be contacted for advice and assistance;
  3. The social worker should explain to the prospective adopter(s) the need to provide as much detail as possible about the birth parents at the point of notification. Using the DWP and other investigative organisations to assist in locating birth parents;
  4. Legal representation – where a family are not entitled to and cannot afford legal representation or advice, it is even more crucial that the Local Authority legal team consider the details of the case and the information given to the courts, so that statutory requirements are complied with.

In addition, the social worker should:

  1. See each prospective adopter and the child (if of the appropriate age) separately at least once, to ascertain wishes and feelings and any issue east once, to ascertain wishes and feelings and any issue;
  2. See the child within the family and assess how well they are assimilated and relate to each of the prospective adopters.
  3. See other family members including children in the adoptive family/ birth family to ascertain their wishes and feelings.
  4. Keep all communications and exchanges logged on the case file
  5. Review the DBS information as soon as it is received. An agency may not consider a prospective adopter suitable to adopt a child if they or any adult member of their household has been convicted of a specified offence committed at 18 or over, or has received a police caution in respect of a specified offence which they admitted at the time the caution was given. In such circumstances the agency must notify the prospective adopter in writing, with reasons, without delay
  6. Meet referees face to face and away from the family home.
  7. Ensure the family information about how the child came to live with them is clear and backed up with evidence.
  8. Meet with any birth parents or those with PR for the child who will lose it. Any parent, guardian or special guardian of the child with PR will have to give consent to the adoption or have their consent dispensed with. (The latter will require the court to be satisfied that there is good reason to do this; that either the parent cannot be found, is incapable of giving consent or the welfare of the child requires for their consent to be dispensed with). Note: it is the role of the Parental Reporter (Family Procedure Rules r16.32) within the adoption proceedings and not the Local Authority to record parental consent in England and Wales, unless the Rules of the Court provide otherwise or otherwise directed.
  9. Ensure any discussions with (other) birth parents or family members clarify these people’s full understanding of the effects of adoption on the child.

The child needs to know and have an understanding of their birth origins as well as to be aware of the implications of adoption. They should be seen alone if old enough (e.g. over 5 years) and it is important to note that even young children can understand the difference between a 'parenting' parent and a 'birth' parent. The agency should provide guidance and support to the adults involved to enable them to inform the child.

It is essential that the child's views are recorded and taken into account. Where a child has strong bonds with the absent parent, it is crucial that this matter is given careful consideration. In such cases, it may be that a package of Section 8 orders may be a more appropriate recommendation.

Counselling the birth parent or anyone who has parental responsibility for the child is essential. The Adoption Memorandum - Information for Birth Parents (yet to be finalised) should be provided by the social worker and used as a basis for discussion. Written acknowledgement of the receipt of the memorandum should be signed by the birth parent and placed on file. The memorandum has no legal status and does not imply agreement.

Similarly, anyone with parental responsibility and who has played a significant part in the child's life should be counselled and their legal rights explained fully. Reasons for not involving a birth parent or other person with parental responsibility should be recorded in detail on the file.

Any birth parent not agreeing to the proposed adoption plan should be advised to engage a solicitor as soon as possible.

If the child does not know of their origins (particularly in step partner adoptions) where the child believes the partner to be their birth parent, the applicant may be given support by the social worker in telling the child about their origins. In cases where parents obstruct attempts to disclaim the true position with the child, it may be necessary, once their application is made, to seek directions from the court.

Note that it is the responsibility of the prospective adopter(s) to give the birth parent(s) address and their views on the proposed adoption to the social worker. This is most important as the social worker needs to contact the birth parent with or without parental responsibility, in order to verify their feelings and wishes regarding the adoption if reasonable or practical. In cases where the birth parent(s) cannot be found using normal channels of enquiry, the social worker may arrange with the prospective adopters to approach the:

Letter Forwarding Service
MO2O1
Durham House
Washington
Tyne & Wear
NE38 7SF

Who may forward a letter to anyone who may be a birth parent. In order for the DWP to do this, full details of the person's date of birth, full name, previous address(es) and employment must be furnished. The court may request the local authority to make further investigations and assist the applicant in finding the birth parent but there is no duty to trace.

The views and wishes of the wider family are also likely to be relevant and the social worker will need to consider whom it will be necessary to approach. This may be a matter of special significance if the child's non-resident birth parent is dead. Where there is contact between the child and grandparents it will be necessary for all the family members to consider how the making of an Adoption Order might affect their relationship.

1.3 Contact

Issues of any on-going contact should be discussed fully with the child, the prospective adopters and the birth parent(s). Such arrangements may be made informally if all parties are in agreement. However, in the event of a dispute, it may be necessary to consider the recommendations of a Child Arrangements Order to run alongside the Adoption Order.

1.4 References

Our checks should be reasonable, proportionate and consistent to all families.

This includes DBS- all members of the household over 18 must have a DBS. Where an applicant is not a British national, they will need to complete a paper form for their DBS. Everyone else may use the portal which we provide details of. DBS need to be updated every three years. DBS is recorded on Mosaic under Statutory Checks Workflow and in the Stage One Summary. Under our data protection commitments we must not keep copies of DBS.

Local Authority Checks will also be carried out. Upon acceptance of the notice, Business Support are notified through mosaic to send Local Authority checks to all LA’s where applicants have lived over the last 10 years. These are recorded on the Statutory check workflow for each applicant.

With regard to the Armed Forces, checks will not be carried out unless currently employed. Social worker may find it helpful to ask applicant if they have any record to share, particularly medical.

In terms of overseas checks, where an applicant has lived overseas in the last 10 years, for a year or more, we will ask them to provide us with details so that we may obtain a reference from their Employer during that time. Where that is not possible we will ask for a reference from someone who knew them there. Where either of these are not an option we will consider carefully the need or an overseas police check.

Three written personal referees will also be requested. Good practice would be to undertake a reference for each adult in the household family. In terms of visiting referees, it is expected a minimum of 1 is visited, building up to 3 only where exceptionally required. Where the child is of school age a reference should be sought.

DBS costs are met by the agency.

The social worker with Business Support must instigate the completion of the statutory references on both the birth parent and the prospective adopter, and any other member of the household over 18 years at an early stage in the counselling process. The written permission of the applicants and other household members is required for these checks to be undertaken.

Medical reports are not generally required for partner adoptions; however, if there is a significant health issue then a medical can be arranged.

1.5 Assessment and Recording

A record of the counselling work must be noted fully on the adoption case file. The result / outcome of the statutory checks must also be recorded (not on the child's record, but on the record of the adult to whom they pertain). An assessment must be made as to the suitability of the applicants to adopt the child in order that a recommendation can be made to the court. It is important to refer to the Annex A requirements to ensure that full information is compiled.

Upon allocation to social worker and each supervision throughout, the seeking of legal advice must be considered (ZH v HS & others (Application to revoke Adoption Order: Procedure in Non-Agency Adoption Placement) 2019).

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.

1.6 Court Work and Preparation of Annex A Report

After 3 months has elapsed since the notice of intention to adopt was sent, the prospective adopter can fill in the adoption application forms, A58. Payment will also be required to be made to the court by the applicant. These should be completed in triplicate and submitted with the child's original / long birth certificate and the applicants' marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable). If the application is likely to be contested, then the social worker should liaise with the applicants' solicitor regarding the timing and submission of the application forms and reports. It is likely that the solicitor will deal with all application forms. Unless the court directs otherwise, the first directions hearing must be within 4 weeks beginning with the date on which the application is issued, when a timetable for filing of reports etc. will be set. Legal aid may be available is some cases, particularly if it is a complex situation. If the applicants are on income support the applicant can apply to the court to waive the court fee.

As far as possible, the Annex A should be submitted alongside the application to court. There will be limited circumstances where the application is made without the court report i.e. where directions from the court are sought.

This report, in non-agency adoptions, is exactly the same as that written in respect of agency adoption placements, though the Welfare Checklist is not required. The report must be prepared within the timescale fixed by the court. No extensions are likely to be given and any possible delay must be explained to the court at the earliest opportunity. Courts are content to accept Annex A reports where the DBS has not been received with a view to this additional information being provided to the court in a brief addendum report as soon as it is received by the agency.

ZH v HS & others (Application to revoke Adoption Order: Procedure in Non-Agency Adoption Placement) 2019 determined that Annex A reports must be read by the supervising Team manager and signed accordingly.

ZH v HS & others 2019 also refers to the sharing of the Annex A report with the applicant ONLY. This is purely for the purposes of factual correction. All content should be known to the applicant given their intention to adopt; they ought to have the fullest possibly information on the child/ren. If it is the view if the report writer that the report should have sections redacted prior to sharing, this should be worked through the report.

Three copies of the completed report must be sent to the court with a covering letter.

1.6.1 CAFCASS

In non agency adoption proceedings the court will appoint a court reporting officer. This person will be independent of the court and all agencies. The role of the reporting officer is to gain consent from birth parent/s.

Any consent executed outside of the UK is to be witnessed by a person authorised by law to administer an oath, a British consular officer or a notary public.

In rare instances the reporting officer may appoint a solicitor for the child.

The social worker must attend court.

2. Adoption by Others

In this situation, anyone who has had the care of the child for any 3 years out of the past 5 years, can apply to adopt. This is likely to cover situations such as adoption by relatives or private foster carers. It may also include a ‘gifted child’ or ‘freely given’ child. This is where a child is given to a friend or relative usually because they have not been able to have a child of their own. It can be usual for enquirers to call regarding this prior to the birth or soon after. Thus adoption without leave of the court will not be possible at such a stage. The caller should be directed to a family solicitor.

Private Fostering Arrangements: Wider family members and other people who have been caring for a child under private fostering arrangements for at least three years may make an adoption application if they have given the required notice to the local authority. In these circumstances, provided the Children (Private Arrangements for Fostering) Regulations 2005 have been complied with, the child and the local authority, who will have been visiting regularly, will already know family.

If there has been a failure to comply with the private fostering regulations it will be necessary to refer the matter to the private fostering team for them to consider what action should be taken. Failure to notify (with or without subsequently being convicted of an offence under section 70 of the 1989 Act) is something that should be taken into account when considering the suitability of those persons to adopt.

If the family do come under the private fostering regulations, but are not known to the Local Authority, they should be referred to the private fostering team immediately, and assessment and monitoring processes complied with, even if this is alongside an adoption process.

The task of the social worker is to ensure that all parties know and are aware of the legal and emotional implications of an Adoption Order, to ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child and the birth parent(s) and to make a recommendation to the court by the furnishing of a report as to whether an Adoption Order should be made in respect of the applicant.

In the first instance, the adoption duty worker will enquire as to where the enquirer resides, and direct them if appropriate to contact Bradford or Leeds Children's Social Care directly. OAWY does not undertake this work on behalf of Leeds or Bradford.

Enquiries can only be taken from person’s intending to adopt i.e. not the resident parent or young person.

Where the enquirer is from Calderdale, Kirklees or Wakefield, the duty worker will provide information to enquirers, and discuss the following:

  • Why adoption?
  • Have they considered other options, such as a Child Arrangements Order or Parental Responsibility Order?
  • Position of non resident birth parent in this;
  • Contact;
  • Lifelong implications of adoption;
  • The position of other extended family members; and
  • Inheritance issues.

The duty worker will advise about the lesser order principle. The applicant in a partner adoption must have lived with the child for at least 6 months prior to the notification being sent

The duty worker will take some initial information on an initial enquiry form if the enquirer is requesting more information following the initial counselling over the telephone.

It is imperative that the duty worker explains the assessment process with the enquirer in depth including the importance of gaining the views of the non-resident parent. We will always follow up the non-resident parent with or without Parental Responsibility. We require this information for the Annex A report. In such incidents where the non-resident parent does not have PR, the court will not be required to deal with the dispensation of consent. (A parent without PR will be given notice of an adoption hearing, but does not have to be served. If the non-resident parent cannot be traced, that is a matter for the court).

The Duty worker will create the child and family record on Mosaic and create a workflow for Non-Agency enquiry against the child or children’s record. The Duty worker will email a letter and pack to the enquirer.

For applications by same sex couples, reference must be made to to Adoption Statutory Guidance - The Adoption and Children Act 2002 (DfE Feb 2011).

If the applicant or the resident birth parent is British, an Adoption Order will have the effect of conferring British citizenship on the child. In cases where there may be issues around immigration status or nationality, the applicant must inform the Home Office, and the Secretary of State will be informed of the proceedings in case they should want to become a party to the proceedings. This can only be achieved via a court order and as such should be dealt with at the court hearing.

2.1 Referral

When the notice of intention form is returned to the nominated Business Support Officer at Kernel House, it will be viewed as the referral for adoption. This notification will be formally acknowledged by the lead team. The notice of intention to adopt must be given at least 3 months prior to an application for an Adoption Order. However, the applicant can request leave of the court to apply earlier.

The notice indicates the category of non-agency adoption and thus the work to be undertaken. On receipt of the notice, the lead manager will seek to allocate a social worker as soon as practical and no more than 3 weeks from receipt.

The effect of a notice of intention to adopt is that restrictions are made on the child's removal from their home. The child may not be removed for 4 months beginning with the giving of the notice, except by leave of the court or by a local authority or an authorised person. These restrictions also apply after the application for an Adoption Order. The notice of intention to adopt expires after 2 years, if no application for an Adoption Order is made.

The notification of intention to adopt may come from either the applicant(s) or the solicitor acting for the applicant(s). Note that it is not usually necessary for the applicant(s) to engage a solicitor where the birth parent(s) is in agreement with the adoption plan. In cases where an adoption plan is likely to be contested or the whereabouts of the legal birth parent(s) is unknown, then the applicant(s) should be advised to engage a solicitor.

2.2 Counselling

Counselling should commence as soon as a social worker is appointed, so that sufficient time is allowed to consider the lifelong impact of adoption on the child and family. The court will expect to know why adoption is considered to be most appropriate and this must be discussed at an early stage. Alternative orders, such as Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Orders should be discussed and considered by the family as these may be more appropriate. The social worker should advise the family when they should make their application.

The prospective adopter(s) should be clear that the social work involvement is important to the decision making regarding adoption and is not a means to the end result of an Adoption Order. The purpose of counselling is to ensure that the nature and implications of adoption are understood fully by the child, the prospective adopter(s) and the birth parent(s).

In counselling the prospective adopters, they should be made aware of the need to obtain personal details of their families for inclusion in the Annex A report for the court. Counselling issues will need to include a full discussion on the impact of adoption. This is particularly relevant where the application is by a family member and relationships within the family may become altered because of the adoption. The likely effect of this on the child and others - e.g. a grandparent may become the child's mother on the making of the Adoption Order and, by implication, the birth mother become the child's sibling, should be fully explored.

Following counselling and where it is agreed to progress to An Annex A assessment, the social shall arrange a further visit. During this visit, the Social Worker will take with them the following:

  • Blank medical adoption assessment forms (for each prospective adopter and each child) to be completed by the GP (and attached to the application form). The costs of the medical assessments for the prospective adopters and child will need to be borne by the prospective adopters and they should be aware of this at the outset. Other than for step-parent adoptions, prospective adopters are required to attach to the adoption application the Medical Assessments of the prospective the prospective adopters;
  • Blank/electronic DBS forms to be completed during the visit;
  • In the event that the applicant(s) have spent significant time abroad, the local authority should also consider whether foreign police checks/certificates of good behaviour can and should be obtained or are already available;
  • A blank Annex A form to be left with the prospective adopters for information about the areas covered in the assessment,
  • A list of local family law solicitors should they wish to obtain legal advice and
  • A blank Application Form (A58) for ease of reference.

During this visit the Social Worker should gather as much information about the birth parents (and anyone else with PR) as is known to the prospective adopters. This should include any known contact information, personal details and last known addresses. This will allow the Social Worker to begin attempting to trace and contact any hard to find birth parent. The assessment of the family should help them think about the effects of an adoption order on themselves, the child, and all members of the birth and adopting families. They should be able to describe to the Social Worker the full legal effects of the making of an adoption order and be able to explain why they prefer this order over all other options.

It will be necessary to ascertain whether the prospective adopter has informed the birth parent(s) (or other parent) of their intention. If they have not done so, the social worker will need to explain the contribution from the (other) birth parent(s) that will be needed, and discuss with the prospective adopter(s) whether they wish themselves to inform the birth parent(s) before the social worker makes contact with them.

The Social Worker may need to consider:

  1. Using an interpreter – even where people have a reasonable fluency in English, their understanding of the legal options to enable them to care for a child may be limited, and their understanding of the lifelong impact on a child may be difficult to explore;
  2. If there is likely to be difficulty in tracing the birth parent(s) attempts to do so need to be commenced as early as possible and the local authority’s legal team need to be contacted for advice and assistance;
  3. The social worker should explain to the prospective adopter(s) the need to provide as much detail as possible about the birth parents at the point of notification. Using the DWP and other investigative organisations to assist in locating birth parents;
  4. Legal representation – where a family are not entitled to and cannot afford legal representation or advice it is even more crucial that the Local Authority legal team consider the details of the case and the information given to the courts, so that statutory requirements are complied with.

In addition, the Social Worker should:

  1. See each prospective adopter and the child (if of the appropriateage) separately at least once, to ascertain wishes and feelings and any issue east once, to ascertain wishes and feelings and any issue;
  2. See the child within the family and assess how well they are assimilated and relate to each of the prospective adopters. The child needs to know and have an understanding of their birth origins as well as to be aware of the implications of adoption. They should be seen alone if old enough (e.g. over 5years) and it is important to note that even young children can understand the difference between a 'parenting' parent and a "birth" parent. The agency should provide guidance and support to the adults involved to enable them to inform the child;
  3. See other family members including children in the adoptive family/ birth family to ascertain their wishes and feelings;
  4. Keep all communications and exchanges logged on the case file;
  5. Review the DBS information as soon as it is received. An agency may not consider a prospective adopter suitable to adopt a child if they or any adult member of their household has been convicted of a specified offence committed at 18 or over, or has received a police caution in respect of a specified offence which they admitted at the time the caution was given. In such circumstances the agency must notify the prospective adopter in writing, with reasons, without delay
  6. Meet referees face to face and away from the family home.
  7. Ensure the family information about how the child came to live with them is clear and backed up with evidence.
  8. Meet with any birth parents or those with PR for the child who will lose it. Any parent, guardian or special guardian of the child with PR will have to give consent to the adoption or have their consent dispensed with. (The latter will require the court to be satisfied that there is good reason to do this; that either the parent cannot be found, is incapable of giving consent or the welfare of the child requires for their consent to be dispensed with). Note: it is the role of the Parental Reporter (Family Procedure Rules r16.32) within the adoption proceedings and not the Local Authority to record parental consent in England and Wales, unless the Rules of the Court provide otherwise or otherwise directed.
  9. Ensure any discussions with (other) birth parents or family members clarify these people’s full understanding of the effects of adoption on the child.

It is essential that the child's views are recorded and taken into account. Where a child has strong bonds with the absent parent, it is crucial that this matter is given careful consideration. In such cases, it may be that a package of Section 8 orders, a Special Guardianship Order, or a Child Arrangements Order may be a more appropriate recommendation.

Counselling the birth parent or anyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child is essential. The adoption memorandum - information for birth parents should be provided by the social worker and used as a basis for discussion. Written acknowledgement of the receipt of the memorandum should be signed by the birth parent and placed on file. The memorandum has no legal status and does not imply agreement. Similarly, anyone with parental responsibility and who has played a significant part in the child's life should be counselled and their legal rights explained fully. Reasons for not involving a birth parent or other person with Parental Responsibility should be recorded in detail on the file. Any birth parent not agreeing to the proposed adoption plan should be advised to engage a solicitor as soon as possible.

Note that it is the responsibility of the prospective adopter(s) to give the birth parent(s) address and their views on the proposed adoption to the social worker. This is most important as the social worker needs to contact the birth parent in order to verify their feelings and wishes regarding the adoption. In cases where the birth parent(s) cannot be found using normal channels of enquiry, the social worker may arrange with the prospective adopters to approach the:

Letter Forwarding Service
MO2O1
Durham House
Washington
Tyne & Wear
NE38 7SF

Who may forward a letter to anyone who may be a birth parent. In order for the DWP to do this, full details of the person's date of birth, full name, previous address(es) and employment must be furnished.

2.3 Contact

Issues of any ongoing contact should be discussed fully with the child, the prospective adopters and the birth parent(s). Such arrangements may be made informally if all parties are in agreement. However, in the event of a dispute, it may be necessary to consider the recommendations of a Section 8 order to run alongside the Adoption Order.

2.4 References

The social worker, with the help of Business Support, must instigate the completion of the statutory references. Our checks should be reasonable, proportionate and consistent to all families. This includes checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for all adults over 18 years within the household. Where an applicant is a British National, they will need to complete a paper form for their DBS. Everyone else may use the portal which we provide details of. DBS need to be updated every three years. DBS is recorded on Mosaic under Statutory Checks Workflow and in the Stage One Summary. Under our data protection commitments we must not keep copies of DBS.

Local Authority Checks will also be carried out. Upon acceptance of the notice, Business Support are notified through mosaic to send Local Authority checks to all LA’s where applicants have lived over the last 10 years. These are recorded on the Statutory check workflow for each applicant

With regard to the Armed Forces, checks will not be carried out unless currently employed. Social worker may find it helpful to ask applicant if they have any record to share, particularly medical.

In terms of overseas checks, where an applicant has lived overseas in the last 10 years, for a year or more, we will ask them to provide us with details so that we may obtain a reference from their Employer during that time. Where that is not possible we will ask for a reference from someone who knew them there. Where either of these are not an option we will consider carefully the need or an overseas police check.

Three written personal referees will also be requested. Good practice would be to undertake a reference for each adult in the household family. In terms of visiting referees, it is expected a minimum of 1 is visited, building up to 3 only where exceptionally required. Where the child is of school age a reference should be sought.

2.5 Health Reports

Except where the application is a partner one, the 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. 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.

The applicants will be advised to arrange a health assessment with their GP and the child's GP, using the appropriate CoramBAAF health forms. The prospective adopters are responsible for the costs, and it should be noted that these health assessments are relatively expensive.

Three copies of reports, made not more than 3months earlier on the health of the child and of each applicant, must be attached to an application for adoption. The court will then return a full set of health reports to the adoption team in order that the adoption Medical Adviser can interpret the details and provide a medical summary for inclusion in the social work Annex A report (where an application has been made prior to the assessment).

Form PH (Health information on the birth parents) should be completed by the birth parent(s) in conjunction with the social worker and returned to the adoption team, so that the Medical Advisor can assess this.

2.6 Assessment and Recording

A record of the counselling work must be noted fully on the adoption case file. The result / outcome of the statutory checks must also be recorded (not on the child's record, but on the record of the adult to whom they pertain). An assessment must be made as to the suitability of the applicants to adopt the child in order that a recommendation can be made to the court. It is important to refer to the Annex A requirements to ensure that full information is compiled.

Upon allocation to social worker and each supervision throughout, the seeking of legal advice must be considered (ZH v HS & others (Application to revoke Adoption Order: Procedure in Non-Agency Adoption Placement) 2019).

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.

2.7 Court Work and Preparation of Annex A Report

After 3 months has elapsed since the notice of intention to adopt was sent, the prospective adopter can fill in the adoption application forms (A58). These should be completed in triplicate and submitted with the child's original / long birth certificate and the applicants' marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable). Payment will also be required to be made to the court, payable by the applicant(s).

If the application is likely to be contested, then the social worker should liaise with the applicants' solicitor regarding the timing and submission of the application forms and reports. It is likely that the solicitor will deal with all application forms. Unless the court directs otherwise, the first directions hearing must be within 4 weeks beginning with the date on which the application is issued, when a timetable for filing of reports etc. will be set. Legal aid may be available in some cases, particularly if it is a complex situation. If the applicants are on income support the applicant can apply to the court to waive the court fee.

This report, in non-agency adoptions, is exactly the same as that written in respect of agency adoption placements, though the Welfare Checklist is not required. The report must be prepared within the timescale fixed by the court. No extensions are likely to be given and any possible delay must be explained to the court at the earliest opportunity. Courts are content to accept Annex A reports where the DBS has not been received with a view to this additional information being provided to the court in a brief addendum report as soon as it is received by the agency.

ZH v HS & others (Application to revoke Adoption Order: Procedure in Non-Agency Adoption Placement) 2019 determines that Annex A reports must be read by the supervising Team manager and signed accordingly.

ZH v HS & others 2019 also refers to the sharing of the Annex A report with the applicant ONLY. This is purely for the purposes of factual correction. All content should be known to the applicant given their intention to adopt; they ought to have the fullest possibly information on the child/ren. If it is the view if the report writer that the report should have sections redacted prior to sharing, this should be worked through the report.

Three copies of the completed report must be sent to the court with a covering letter.

2.8 Annex A reports in respect of non agency adoptions

This report, in non-agency adoptions, is exactly the same as that written in respect of agency adoption placements, although the Welfare Checklist should not be completed. The report must be prepared within the timescale fixed by the court. No extensions are likely to be given and any possible delay must be explained to the court at the earliest opportunity. Courts are content to accept Annex A reports where the DBS has not been received with a view to this additional information being provided to the court in a brief addendum report as soon as it is received by the agency. Three copies of the completed report must be sent to the court with a covering memo. The reports should be countersigned by the social work team manager.

OAWY work alongside applicants as far as possible to complete and submit the Annex A together at the same time.

2.9 CAFCASS

In non-agency adoption proceedings, the court will appoint a court reporting officer. This person will be independent of the court and all agencies, the role of the reporting officer is to gain consent from birth parent/s.

Any consent executed outside of the UK is to be witnessed by a person authorised by law to administer an oath, a British consular officer or a notary public.

In rare instances the reporting officer may appoint a solicitor for the child.

The social worker must attend court.

3. LA Foster Carer Application - Applying Without the Support of the LA

In this situation foster carers who have had the child in placement with them for the past year can apply for an Adoption Order, once they have given 3 months notice of their intention to do so. The task of the social worker is to ensure that all parties know and are aware of the legal and emotional implications of an Adoption Order, to ascertain the wishes and feelings of the child and the birth parent(s) and to make a recommendation to the court by the furnishing of a report as to whether an Adoption Order should be made in respect of the applicant.

On request, a formal notice of intention to adopt form will be sent to the applicant by One Adoption West Yorkshire for cases where the foster care lives in the areas of Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield.

This type of non-agency application should be a rare occurrence, as efforts should be made to encourage foster carers to work in partnership with the agency, in order to meet the needs of the child. If necessary, consideration should be given to the foster carer's request to adopt the child, by bringing the matter to the Adoption Panel. Early advice should be sought from both the legal services section and the team manager / fostering and adoption, if a foster carer wishes to proceed with an adoption application.

The record must be created within the child/ren's name/s. All other household members will be created (where they're not already known to us) but only checks in relation to those over 18 to be on their own file.

3.1 Referral

When the foster carer gives notice of their intention it will be viewed as the referral for adoption. This notification will be formally acknowledged by the Adoption Team Manager with lead over Non-Agency. The notice of intention to adopt must be given at least 3 months prior to an application for an Adoption Order. However, the applicant can apply for leave of the court to apply earlier.

The notice indicates the category of non-agency adoption and thus the work to be undertaken. On receipt of the notice, the lead manager will seek to allocate a social worker as soon as practical and in no more than 3 weeks from receipt. Professionals meeting(s) should also be held with the social worker for the child/ren, their manager and anyone else deemed appropriate.

The effect of a notice of intention to adopt is that restrictions are made on the child's removal from their home. The child may not be removed for 4 months beginning with the giving of the notice, except by leave of the court or by a local authority or an authorised person. These restrictions also apply after the application for an Adoption Order. The notice of intention to adopt expires after 2 years, if no application for an Adoption Order is made.

The notification of intention to adopt may come from either the applicant(s) or the solicitor acting for the applicant(s). In cases where an adoption plan is likely to be contested or the whereabouts of the legal birth parent(s is unknown, then the applicant(s) should be advised to engage a solicitor.

3.2 Counselling

Counselling should commence as soon as a social worker is appointed, so that sufficient time is allowed to consider the lifelong impact of adoption on the child and family. Where the application has been brought against the plans of the LA, this will require careful navigation. Alternative orders, such as Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Orders should be discussed and considered by the family, as these may be more appropriate. The social worker should advise the family when they should make their application to court. The prospective adopter(s) should be clear that the social work involvement is important to the decision making regarding adoption and is not a means to the end result of an Adoption Order. The purpose of counselling is to ensure that the nature and implications of adoption are understood fully by the child, the prospective adopter(s) and the birth parent(s).

In counselling the prospective adopters, they should be made aware of the need to obtain personal details of their family/lies for inclusion in the Annex A report for the court. It is likely that foster carers will remember how their form F (prospective foster carer) report was completed and be used to the level of detail required.

Counselling issues will need to include a full discussion on the impact of adoption. The prospective adopters should be seen at home, both jointly and separately. The child should also be seen in the company of the applicants so that a view can be obtained regarding the 'family' relationships. Any other residents of the home should be interviewed and appropriate counselling provided.

Following counselling, and where it is agreed to progress to an Annex A assessment, the social shall arrange a further visit. During this visit, the Social Worker will take with them the following;

  • Blank medical adoption assessment forms (for each prospective adopter and each child) to be completed by GP (and attached to the adoption application form). The costs of the medical assessments for the prospective adopters and child will need to be borne by the prospective adopters and they should be aware of this at the outset. Other than for step-parent adoptions, prospective adopters are required to attach to the adoption application the Medical Assessments of the prospective the prospective adopters;
  • Blank/electronic DBS forms to be completed during the visit;
  • In the event that the applicant(s) have spent significant time abroad, the Local Authority should also consider whether foreign police checks/certificates of good behaviour can and should be obtained or are already available;
  • A blank Annex A form to be left with the prospective adopters for information about the areas covered in the assessment;
  • A list of local family solicitors should they wish to approach them; and
  • A blank Application Form (A58) for ease of reference.

During this visit the Social Worker should gather as much information about the birth parents (and anyone else with PR) as is known to the prospective adopters. This should include any known contact information, personal details and last known addresses. This will allow the Social Worker to begin attempting to trace and contact any hard to find birth parent. The assessment of the family should help them think about the effects of an adoption order on themselves, the child, and all members of the birth and adopting families. They should be able to describe to the Social Worker the full legal effects of the making of an adoption order and be able to explain why they prefer this order over all other options.

It will be necessary to ascertain whether the prospective adopter has informed the birth parent(s) (or other parent) of their intention. If they have not done so, the social worker will need to explain the contribution from the (other) birth parent(s) that will be needed, and discuss with the prospective adopter(s) whether they wish themselves to inform the birth parent(s) before the social worker makes contact with them.

The Social Worker may need to consider:

  1. Using an interpreter – even where people have a reasonable fluency in English, their understanding of the legal options to enable them to care for a child may be limited, and their understanding of the lifelong impact on a child may be difficult to explore;
  2. If there is likely to be difficulty in tracing the birth parent(s) attempts to do so need to be commenced as early as possible and the local authority’s legal team need to be contacted for advice and assistance;
  3. The social worker should explain to the prospective adopter(s) the need to provide as much detail as possible about the birth parents at the point of notification. Using the DWP and other investigative organisations to assist in locating birth parents;
  4. Legal representation – where a family are not entitled to and cannot afford legal representation or advice it is even more crucial that the Local Authority legal team consider the details of the case and the information given to the courts, so that statutory requirements are complied with.

In addition, the Social Worker should:

  1. See each prospective adopter and the child (if of the appropriate age) separately at least once, to ascertain wishes and feelings and any issue east once, to ascertain wishes and feelings and any issue
  2. See the child within the family and assess how well they are assimilated and relate to each of the prospective adopters. The child needs to know and have an understanding of their birth origins as well as to be aware of the implications of adoption. They should be seen alone if old enough (e.g. over 5 years) and it is important to note that even young children can understand the difference between a 'parenting' parent and a 'birth' parent. The agency should provide guidance and support to the adults involved to enable them to inform the child.
  3. See other family members including children in the adoptive family/ birth family to ascertain their wishes and feelings;
  4. Keep all communications and exchanges logged on the case file;
  5. Review the DBS information as soon as it is received. An agency may not consider a prospective adopter suitable to adopt a child if they or any adult member of their household has been convicted of a specified offence committed at 18 or over, or has received a police caution in respect of a specified offence which they admitted at the time the caution was given. In such circumstances the agency must notify the prospective adopter in writing, with reasons, without delay;
  6. Meet referees face to face and away from the family home; x. Ensure the family information about how the child came to live with them is clear and backed up with evidence;
  7. Meet with any birth parents or those with PR for the child who will lose it. Any parent, guardian or special guardian of the child with PR will have to give consent to the adoption or have their consent dispensed with. (The latter will require the court to be satisfied that there is good reason to do this; that either the parent cannot be found, is incapable of giving consent or the welfare of the child requires for their consent to be dispensed with). Note: it is the role of the Parental Reporter (Family Procedure Rules r16.32) within the adoption proceedings and not the Local Authority to record parental consent in England and Wales, unless the Rules of the Court provide otherwise or otherwise directed;
  8. Ensure any discussions with (other) birth parents or family members clarify these people’s full understanding of the effects of adoption on the child.

It is essential that the child's views are recorded and taken into account. Where a child has strong bonds with the absent parent, it is crucial that this matter is given careful consideration. In such cases, it may be that a package of Section 8 orders, a Special Guardianship Order, or a Child Arrangements Order may be a more appropriate recommendation.

Counselling the birth parent or anyone who has parental responsibility for the child is essential. The adoption memorandum - information for birth parents should be provided by the social worker and used as a basis for discussion. Written acknowledgement of the receipt of the memorandum should be signed by the birth parent and placed on file. The memorandum has no legal status and does not imply agreement. Similarly, anyone with parental responsibility and who has played a significant part in the child's life should be counselled and their legal rights explained fully. Reasons for not involving a birth parent or other person with parental responsibility should be recorded in detail on the file.

Any birth parent not agreeing to the proposed adoption plan should be advised to engage a solicitor as soon as possible.

Note that it is the responsibility of the social care to give the birth parent(s) address and their views on the proposed adoption to the social worker. This is most important as the social worker needs to contact the birth parent with or without parental responsibility, in order to verify their feelings and wishes regarding the adoption if reasonable or practical. In cases where the birth parent(s) cannot be found using normal channels of enquiry, the social worker may arrange with the prospective adopters to approach the:

Letter Forwarding Service
MO2O1
Durham House
Washington
Tyne & Wear
NE38 7SF

Who may forward a letter to anyone who may be a birth parent. In order for the DWP to do this, full details of the person's date of birth, full name, previous address(es) and employment must be furnished.

3.3 Contact

Issues of any ongoing contact should be discussed fully with the child, the prospective adopters and the birth parent(s). Such arrangements may be made informally if all parties are in agreement. However, in the event of a dispute, it may be necessary to consider the recommendations of a Section 8 order to run alongside the Adoption Order.

3.4 References

The social worker, with the help of Business Support, must instigate the completion of the statutory references at an early stage in the counselling process.

Our checks should be reasonable, proportionate and consistent to all families. This includes DBS- all members of the household over 18 must have a DBS. Where an applicant is not a British national, they will need to complete a paper form for their DBS. Everyone else may use the portal which we provide details of. DBS need to be updated every three years. DBS is recorded on Mosaic under Statutory Checks Workflow and in the Stage One Summary. Under our data protection commitments we must not keep copies of DBS.

Local Authority Checks will also be carried out. Upon acceptance of the notice, Business Support are notified through mosaic to send Local Authority checks to all LA’s where applicants have lived over the last 10 years. These are recorded on the Statutory check workflow for each applicant

With regard to the Armed Forces, checks will not be carried out unless currently employed. Social worker may find it helpful to ask applicant if they have any record to share, particularly medical.

In terms of overseas checks, where an applicant has lived overseas in the last 10 years, for a year or more, we will ask them to provide us with details so that we may obtain a reference from their Employer during that time. Where that is not possible we will ask for a reference from someone who knew them there. Where either of these are not an option we will consider carefully the need or an overseas police check.

Three written personal referees will also be requested. Good practice would be to undertake a reference for each adult in the household family. In terms of visiting referees, it is expected a minimum of 1 is visited, building up to 3 only where exceptionally required. Where the child is of school age a reference should be sought. Only one may be a family member.

3.5 Health Assessments

Health assessments are required in respect of the child and the prospective applicants. On receipt of the notification of intention to adopt, the lead adoption team for non-agency will acknowledge the receipt of the notification and request from the applicants the details of their GP and the child's GP and their permission to seek health information. The applicants will be advised to arrange a health assessment with their GP and the child's GP, using the appropriate CoramBAAF health forms. The prospective adopters are responsible for the costs, and it should be noted that these health assessments are relatively expensive.

Three copies of reports, made not more than 3 months earlier on the the health of the child and of each applicant, must be attached to an application for adoption. The court will then return a full set of health reports to the adoption team in order that the adoption Medical Adviser can interpret the details and provide a medical summary for inclusion in the social work Annex A report. (where an application has been made prior to the assessment).

Form PH (Health information on the birth parents) should be completed by the birth parent(s) in conjunction with the social worker and returned to the adoption team, so that the Medical Advisor can assess this.

3.6 Assessment and Recording

A record of the counselling work must be noted fully on the adoption case file. The result / outcome of the statutory checks must also be recorded(not on the child's record, but on the record of the adult to whom they pertain) . An assessment must be made as to the suitability of the applicants to adopt the child in order that a recommendation can be made to the court. It is important to refer to the Annex A requirements to ensure that full information is compiled.

Upon allocation to social worker and each supervision throughout, the seeking of legal advice must be considered (ZH v HS & others (Application to revoke Adoption Order: Procedure in Non-Agency Adoption Placement) 2019).

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.

3.7 Court Work and Preparation of Annex A Report

After 3 months has elapsed since the notice of intention to adopt was sent, the prospective adopter can fill in the adoption application forms (A58). These should be completed in triplicate and submitted with the child's original / long birth certificate and the applicants' marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable). Payment will also be required to be made to the court, payable by the applicant(s).

If the application is likely to be contested, then the social worker should liaise with the applicants' solicitor regarding the timing and submission of the application forms and reports. It is likely that the solicitor will deal with all application forms.

As far as possible, the Annex A should be submitted alongside the application to court. There will be limited circumstances where the application is made without the court report. i.e. where directions from the court are sought.

This report, in non-agency adoptions, is exactly the same as that written in respect of agency adoption placements, though the Welfare Checklist is not required. The report must be prepared within the timescale fixed by the court. No extensions are likely to be given and any possible delay must be explained to the court at the earliest opportunity. Courts are content to accept Annex A reports where the DBS has not been received with a view to this additional information being provided to the court in a brief addendum report as soon as it is received by the agency. ZH v HS & others (Application to revoke Adoption Order: Procedure in Non-Agency Adoption Placement) 2019 determines that Annex A reports must be read by the supervising Team manager and signed accordingly.

ZH v HS & others 2019 also refers to the sharing of the Annex A report with the applicant ONLY. This is purely for the purposes of factual correction. All content should be known to the applicant given their intention to adopt; they ought to have the fullest possibly information on the child/ren. If it is the view if the report writer that the report should have sections redacted prior to sharing, this should be worked through the report.

Three copies of the completed report must be sent to the court with a covering letter.

3.8 Annex A Reports in Respect of Non Agency Adoptions

This report, in non-agency adoptions, is exactly the same as that written in respect of agency adoption placements, though the completion for the Welfare checklist is not required.

The report must be prepared within the timescale fixed by the court. No extensions are likely to be given and any possible delay must be explained to the court at the earliest opportunity. Courts are content to accept Annex A reports where the DBS has not been received with a view to this additional information being provided to the court in a brief addendum report as soon as it is received by the agency. Three copies of the completed report must be sent to the court with a covering letter.

3.9 CAFCASS

In non agency adoption proceedings, the court will appoint a court reporting officer. This person will be independent of the court and all agencies. The role of the reporting officer is to gain consent from birth parent/s.

Any consent executed outside of the UK is to be witnessed by a person authorised by law to administer an oath, a British consular officer or a notary public.

In rare instances the reporting officer may appoint a solicitor for the child.

The social worker must attend court.