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8.6c Placing for Adoption Babies and Children Relinquished by their Mother and Father

N.B. Many parts of this section will only apply to babies relinquished at birth, but for other relinquished children, the overall emphasis remains the same, namely to involve both parents as much as possible and to advise them about the nature and long-term consequences of adoption. Every effort should be made to include both birth parents in the discussions around planning for adoption.

See BAAF Forms

AMENDMENT

In September 2015,Sections 5, After the Birth – the Mother and Section 11, Parent withdraws Consent after Placement with Adopters, were revised and linked with the separate chapter Placement Endings.


Contents

  1. The Mother
  2. The Father
  3. Mothers to be under the age of 16
  4. Procedures prior to the Birth (or afterwards if necessary)
  5. After the Birth - the Mother
  6. After the Birth - the Father
  7. Grandparents and other Relatives
  8. Planning Meetings for Adoption
  9. Timescales for Relinquished Babies
  10. Procedure with Regard to Consent in Relinquished Babies
  11. Parent withdraws Consent after Placement with Adopters

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1. The Mother

(Responsibility - Initially Customer Services Team then Adoption Team, but see section (below) for when the Locality Team should hold case responsibility).

When a pregnant woman requests adoption for her unborn baby, she will be referred to the Call Centre, where the Customer Services Team will take the referral, collect basic information and pass the referral on to the appropriate Adoption Team. If the customer is known to the locality team then in consultation with Adoption Team Manager, a decision is taken whether the case should remain with the Locality Team or be referred to the Adoption Team.

An assessment of the woman’s and her family’s circumstances must then be made. A joint initial visit by both the social worker from the Locality Team and one from the Adoption Team would enable the assessment to begin and a decision made about which team would most appropriately assume responsibility for this case. The pregnant woman must be given counselling over several interviews with a view to:

  1. Ensuring she is aware of her legal rights and responsibilities and advise her to see her own legal advice;
  2. Exploring realistically the alternatives to adoption (e.g. resources available to help the woman look after her child herself, care by relatives, including paternal relatives, terminations etc.);
  3. Explaining the nature and implications of adoption including the life-long implication of adoption. An information pack containing information on adoption will be available for both parents;
  4. Giving the pregnant woman the opportunity to talk with an adoption social worker if the case is being dealt with by the Locality Team;
  5. Advising the pregnant woman that she could also be offered independent counselling from the Adoption Support Team or Link. This counselling could either be therapeutic and the baby’s adoption, or a combination of both. This independent counselling can be accessed by a referral to the Adoption Support Team;
  6. As much information as possible should be obtained from both parents during the assessment stage for the baby’s Child’s Permanence Report.


2. The Father

  1. When the baby’s father is acknowledged by the pregnant woman and wishes to be involved in the decision-making process regarding the unborn baby’s future, he must be given this opportunity as long as it does not compromise the safety be obtained;
  2. The baby’s father whether he is likely to have or obtain PR (Parental Responsibility) or not should be informed of his legal rights and responsibilities and advised to seek his own legal advice regarding the proposed adoption. (See Parental Responsibility Procedure);
  3. The baby’s father should be offered the opportunity to talk with an adoption social worker either together with the pregnant woman or separately;
  4. The birth father should also be offered the opportunity for independent counselling in the same way as the birth mother (See previous section);
  5. After the birth, a birth father without PR should be interviewed by the social worker with a view to establishing:
    • Whether or not he accepts paternity;
    • If he accepts paternity, will he be registering his name on the baby’s birth certificate, thus acquiring PR;
    • If not, does he intend to apply for PR in other ways.
  6. A birth father names on the birth certificate automatically obtains parental responsibility;
  7. If a birth mother gives consent to adoption and the child is placed, then a birth father subsequently obtains parental responsibility and would not give consent, this does not override the original consent. A review should be set up to consider any legal and practice implications. The adoption lawyer should be consulted.


3. Mothers to be under the age of 16

(Responsibility - Birth Mother’s Social Worker).

If the pregnant girl is under 16, the counselling should usually involve her parents. It is however, the mother’s decision to place her child for adoption. The family should all be informed that, if there are child protection issues, the matter may have to be reported to the police.

If the girl is refusing to inform her parents of her pregnancy, advice should be sought from CLU. In certain situations there may be a question as to whether or not the girl meets the Fraser Guidelines.

When dealing with a pregnant girl or mother under the age of 16, it must be borne in mind that she may be a ‘child in need’ under the Children Act and eligible for services under Section 17.

The social worker must also be concerned to ensure that the young woman is not in need of protection under Hertfordshire’s Safeguarding Children Procedures.

Relevant child protection procedures should be followed regarding any assessed risk to the pregnant girl and/ or unborn baby.


4. Procedures prior to the Birth (or afterwards if necessary)

(Responsibility - Birth Mother’s Social Worker).

When adoption becomes a well established possibility, give the parents either Hertfordshire’s leaflet ‘If Your Child is Being Adopted’ or BAAF leaflet ‘Information for Birth Parents about Adoption’. This is also a good point at which to complete a Form PH (BAAF) for both parents so that as much medical information as possible can be obtained. This must be retained for further reference in relation to the child’s medical. The pack for birth parents should also be given. The child’s case file should be set up at this point.

The birth mother’s social worker should liaise with the midwife and agree tasks and roles.

The pregnant woman should make her wishes known to her GP and consultant and the woman’s social worker should inform the hospital social worker and the senior nursing officer of the maternity ward, of the plan for adoption. They should be asked to contact the mother’s social worker when the baby is born.

If the case is being held in the area then immediately the area know of the case they must contact the Adoption Team to ascertain the services that may be available for the pregnant woman and her baby’s father and alert them to the possibility of an adoption placement.

As part of the counselling process, it is helpful to advise the mother and father that it is usually desirable for them to see the baby after it is born in order to help them make an informed decision about the baby’s future and to help them come to terms with the reality of the situation.

Contact the Brokerage Team to arrange a short term carer for the baby. Complete Child’s Permanence Report as far as possible.

Discuss with the parent(s) what part they wish to play in selecting adopters. If they wish to be involved, the profiles written by the prospective adopters will be shared with them after the short-listing meeting, and their views presented to the selection meeting, preferably in writing.

Encourage birth parent(s) to prepare letters, photo albums, tapes, videos, etc. for their child’s life history. Discuss with them the possibility of meeting the adoptive parents, and ascertain their wishes.

Discuss the options for Post Adoption Contact again, illustrating the life- long implications of adoption. Ascertain their views on contact both before and after the Adoptive Placement. Explain the role of the Adoption Support Team in regard to adoption support services, including post adoption. Complete the Child’s Permanence Report Assessment of Birth Relatives Need for Adoption Support Service (CSF4031).

Explain how the Adoption Contact Register operates.

Explain in detail the issues around consent.

Alert CAFCASS to the need for the witnessing of formal consent.


5. After the Birth - the Mother

(Responsibility - Birth Mother’s Social Worker).

It is important for all birth mothers to have a period of time after the birth in which to consider their decision. Therefore the baby will need to be placed with foster carers prior to its placement with adopters.

The birth mother and father should be asked to complete Child’s Permanence Report (CSF3972). Agreement to place a child for Adoption) as soon as possible but after they have had time to consider their options. The signature should be witnessed by the social worker and the Child’s Permanence Report placed on the child’s file. It must be explained that this is in no way legally binding and does not mean that they have given formal consent. Explain the procedure for formal consent. Formal needs to be witnessed by a CAFCASS officer. To arrange this contact CAFCASS, formal consent cannot be given until the child is six weeks old. Parents can also give consent in advance to the adoption order at this point.

The social worker should visit as soon as possible after the birth to discuss plans, name for baby, photos of the baby and birth parent. The mother and father, if appropriate, should be offered the opportunity to be involved with the babe’s placement.

If the birth father is unknown at this stage, it is important for the social worker to explain to the mother the importance of having information about the birth father for the child’s future knowledge and identity.

Hospital staff should be aware that this mother wishes her baby to be adopted and take her wishes into account when discussing the mother’s seeing and handling of her baby, her discharge and the involvement of the midwife. The social worker should inform ward staff of specific arrangements for placement.

Give BAAF form M/B (signed by the birth mother and obstetric and neo-natal reports) to the nurse manager to be completed before baby’s discharge.

Ensure that the mother, and possibly the father, registers the baby’s birth and obtains a full birth certificate, together with an NHS medical card, both of which should be handed to the social worker and retained on the baby’s file. (The mother/ father may keep the short version of the birth certificate if they wish or they may wish to have their own copy of the full birth certificate).

Arrange for the foster carer to spend some time with the baby and nursing staff in hospital, and then organise the baby’s discharge to foster home. Collect any items left by the birth relatives (toy, cot-tag, etc.) to pass on to adopters. Remember to collect completed M/B Form needed for baby’s adoption medical and Adoption Panel.

The baby will be accommodated under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989. A Placement Agreement will need to be completed in conjunction with a Fostering Team social worker, Statutory visits and reviews must be carried out in line with the LAC guidelines (Responsibility - Mother’s Social Worker and Supervising Social Worker for Foster Carer). Should the parents withdraw consent while the child is accommodated under Section 20, before the child is returned to their parents, a Child and Family Assessment must be completed in accordance with the Placement Endings Procedure, Reunification.

Continue offering counselling to the birth parents and exploring all options for the baby’s care, including care by the extended family.

Ensure that the mother is aware of her child’s right to access files and records as an adult and the implications of this. Consideration should be given to signing consent to sharing of information from the child’s permanence report.

Complete Child’s Permanence Report, adding details of the birth such as time of birth, birth weight and any birth complications. Share Child’s Permanence Report with the birth parents, asking for their comments and for them to sign it. If they feel unable to sign the Child’s Permanence Report, they should be asked to sign a statement to say that they have seen they Child’s Permanence Report. The social worker should record their reasons for not signing the Child’s Permanence Report to the panel. Ensure that the birth parents have had the leaflet for adoption panel and support them in filling this in if it is appropriate to do so.

Arrange for the medical adviser to complete a full adoption medical examination when the baby is at least six weeks old.

Consider whether it is appropriate to test the baby for HIV and/ or hepatitis in line with BAAF Guidelines: Practice Note 53 and, in consultation with the agency medical adviser.

The medical adviser must be consulted following any medical issues that arise at the baby’s medical.

The social worker is to ensure that photos are taken in the early weeks to give the adopters, also that photos of the mother and father obtained for the baby. Photos of the baby for the mother and father should also be obtained.

The foster carer should be encouraged to compile an album for the baby and possible a video to share with potential adopters and birth parents if appropriate.


6. After the Birth - the Father

(Responsibility - Birth Mother’s Social Worker).

If the father of the child has PR he must also give consent to the adoption in his own right.

Where the mother’s husband is not the father, the child is nevertheless presumed in law to be a child of the marriage and the husband’s agreement is necessary unless the presumption is rebutted i.e. he cannot be the biological father. Further professional and legal advice should be sought in these circumstances.

The alleged father must also be interview, if at all possible, and offered similar counselling to the mother. He should be given a leaflet called ‘If your Child is being adopted’ or Hertfordshire leaflet ‘Information for Parents of a Child or Children Who Are To Be Adopted.’ He should also be asked to sign Form CSF3972. ‘Agreement to Place a Child for Adoption’ if he agrees with the plan for adoption. Information should be obtained about his background, current circumstances and attitude towards the plan for adoption and continuing contact with the child. He should be aware of the adopted adult’s right to access records and the possibilities of birth parents and other family members being traced by the child when they are adult. Advance consent to disclosure can be considered at this point.

If he opposes the plan, he should be advised of his rights under the Children Act 1989.

When obtaining information about the birth father from the birth mother she needs to understand the importance to her child for the future of having as much information as possible about both their parents. The mother may still decline to give the social worker the name of the baby’s father. In that situation, as much information as possible should be obtained from the mother about the father for the baby’s permanence report.

The birth mother needs to know that if she gives the social worker the father’s full name, they will have to make every effort to trace him, including possible using a tracing agency. There might be exceptional circumstances where it was not safe to trace the father.

If attempts to contact the birth father fail, or the birth mother declines to give his full name to her social worker, details of the actions taken, including dates, should be recorded and included in the child’s permanence report and Schedule 2 report.


7. Grandparents and other Relatives

(Responsibility - Birth Mother’s Social Worker).

If the mother does not wish other members of her family to know about the pregnancy and her plans for adoption, this needs to be discussed with bearing in mind the interests of the child. She needs to understand the consequences of this decision in the light of the adopted child’s ability to trace birth relatives as an adult. If she remains adamant in her view, even after efforts have been made to help her share the information, then her wishes should be respected. However, this is a complex area with possible implications under article 8 of the Human Rights Legislation and legal advice should be sought. At all times the welfare check list mist be considered when coming to any view.

When grandparents or other relatives are aware of the baby and are expressing an interest in parenting the child contrary to the mother’s wishes, the mother needs to be made aware that we have a responsibility under the Children Act to explore this possibility and make a decision in the child’s best interests.

The paperwork for the adoption panel for relinquished babies needs to indicate within the permanence form whether there is a particular placement already identified, such as in concurrency/ fast track siblings. It may be in these cases that the birth aren’t may want to give agreement placement with identified adopters (CSF3972). The adoption panel will want to consider this at the panel if this is the case. Once the decision maker has made the decision that the child should be placed for adoption, and the parent(s) have been notified, then subject to the agreement being signed and they are continuing to be prepared to give consent to the adoption the child may be placed.


8. Planning Meetings for Adoption

After the above work is completed or nearly complete with the birth parents and other birth relatives, the social worker for the child should arrange a Permanence Planning Meeting. This should occur as quickly as possible before or after birth. A review should be set up at the earliest opportunity after the Permanence Planning Meeting.

From the point in the process, the child’s social worker should follow the Procedures for Placing Babies/ Children who are subject to Care proceedings (see Permanence Planning and Placement Procedure).

The child’s social worker should note that the process will be quicker for relinquished babies. This Child’s Permanence Report should be completed by the time of the Permanence Planning Meeting. Following the Permanence Planning Meeting, the child’s social worker should start completing the adoption plan and support plans, book the Adoption in the Child’s Panel, the Short-listing Meeting, the Selection Meeting and the Matching Panel.

The plan can only proceed to the adoption panel if formal consent has been given and witnessed by a CAFCASS officer.

If formal consent it given then withdrawn, seek advice from CLU. Further information is given in procedures following the withdrawal of consent.


9. Timescales for Relinquished Babies

(Where birth family are clear and firm in their decision for adoption)

Matches to suitable families should be made within a month of the parent(s) giving consent to adoption (not less than 6 weeks, see below). Where the parents prevaricate and indicate they no longer want adoption and where the child cannot be immediately reunified with his or her birth family, the case responsibility should pass to the Locality Team.

 A relinquished baby may be placed with foster carers also approved as adopters. Such concurrent planning means that the baby has less changes and adopters can bond with the baby at the earliest opportunity.

3 - 4 weeks after the baby’s birth the Permanence Planning Meetings (PPM) needs to be convened swiftly, followed quickly by a LAC review to confirm the decision to pursue adoption.

Immediately following the PPM, the following meeting should be booked through the Adoption Panel Administrator.

  • Child’s Adoption Panel - no more than 12 weeks after the birth, as per National Adoption Standards (A2C) and 8 weeks after the first review, which confirms adoption as the plan;
  • Children’s Meetings - first Tuesday after child’s adoption panel or earlier if there are specific issues (CPR needs to be available);
  • Selection Meeting;
  • Matching Panel - 4 weeks after Selection Meeting.

Six weeks after the baby’s birth

  • The baby needs full adoption medical.

The timescale must not exceed 3 months from Adoption Panel for the Child to Matching Panel as per National Adoption Standards 3C.


10. Procedure with Regard to Consent in Relinquished Babies

If the baby is placed with prospective adopters the birth parents with parental responsibility should be asked to sign CSF3972 Agreement to place a Child for Adoption Where the Child is less than 6 weeks old.

  1. Any consent given by the birth parents if the child is under 6 weeks is ineffective;
  2. Birth parents should be informed in writing of all actions of the adoption agency;
  3. The agreement to place a child can be signed by the birth parents using form CSF3972 under 6 weeks;
  4. The agreement form must be placed on the child’s record;
  5. It is important when asking the birth parents to sign the agreement to place that they are counselled regarding their rights;
  6. The signing of the consent to placement must be witnessed by a CAFCASS officer;
  7. The relevant CAFCASS office is that which is nearest to the birth parents address.

Dispensing with consent (section 52 Adoption and Children Act 2002

This can only occur if either of the two conditions below apply:

  • Child's parent of or guardian cannot be found or is incapable of giving consent;
  • The welfare of the child requires consent to be dispensed with.

The following information must be sent to the CAFCASS with the request:

  1. A certified copy of the child’s birth certificate;
  2. Name and address of the child’s parent(s);
  3. A chronology of the actions and decisions taken by the agency;
  4. Confirmation that the agency has counselled the birth parents with regard to section 19 and 20 of the Adoption and Children Act and a copy of the information given to the birth parents;
  5. Any additional information that the guardian might wish to know;
  6. The CAFCASS officer will then witness the consent and send a letter to the adoption team to confirm the outcome;
  7. The application to the court for an adoption order must be accompanied by the original consent, signed and witnessed;
  8. The signed consent form should be kept on file together with any notice under Section 20 that the birth parents do not want to be informed of further proceedings;
  9. Once agreement to consent has been received and the child has been to the adoption panel, the child may not be placed until the formal consent is obtained.

It is possible to select and match before formal consent has been received but no placement could occur without formal witnessed consent. Social workers will need to judge whether there are any concerns that the placement will not go ahead before going this far down.

Additionally CSF3964 Section 20 Children Act 1989 Placing a Child for Adoption

Should be signed by prospective adopters to ensure that they are aware that the placement is dependent upon the birth parents continuing to give their agreement to the plan for adoption


11. Parent withdraws Consent after Placement with Adopters

If the parent withdraws consent the Agency Decision Maker must immediately review the decision to place the child for adoption (please also see Placement Endings Procedure). If it is considered that the child should still be placed for adoption and there are grounds for a Placement Order an application should be made immediately.

If a parent is seeking the return of the child the prospective adopter and the adoption agency will need to comply with the request within 14 days, unless the placement order application has been issued before then.

Where a child has been placed by a voluntary adoption agency, that agency will not be able to apply for a placement order, and any steps will need to be taken by the local authority, if it agrees that the child is at risk of harm if returned to the parent.

End