Adoption by Private Foster Carers
This chapter was revised throughout in March 2014 and should be re-read in full.This chapter is currently under review.
Provided the original placement was truly a fostering arrangement, an Adoption Order can be granted to private foster parents where the private foster carers have been caring for the child for at least three years before they make the application and have given the required notice to the local authority.
Such adoptions have certain inherent dangers; i.e. the would-be adopters(s) do not have the means to make thorough enquires into the background of the child and his birth parents; important information may not have been passed on. It is difficult to establish the suitability of the would-be adopters.
If an adoption application is made by private foster parent(s), the court must decide whether adoption is in the child's best interests or whether the matter would be better dealt with by making of a Child Arrangements Order or Special Guardianship Order (see Special Guardianship Orders Policy and Procedure).
Notice of intention to apply for an Adoption Order (for which Form CSF397 may be used) must be given to the Adoption Team Manager at least 3 months before the date of the adoption hearing. The applicants must indicate the date on which the child came into their care. This notification should be acknowledged.
The carers should have already notified the local authority of the private fostering arrangements, and will have been visited regularly by the local authority. If there has been a failure to comply the matter should be referred to the private fostering team to consider what action to take. Such failure should be taken into account within the assessment of the suitability to adopt.
The local authority must supervise the welfare of the child and make a report (Schedule 2) to the court on the proposed adoption. The local authority has a duty to investigate the circumstances of the placement and present the fact to the court so that the court can decide whether or not the placement is lawful. The first visit must occur within 7 days of the notification and at this visit the Schedule 1 should be completed. Thereafter, visits are at 6 weekly intervals until the adoption order.
In completing the Schedule 2 Report, the local authority must assess the quality of the placement. In addition, in order to safeguard the welfare of protected children, the social worker must visit regularly (and no less frequently than a foster carer) to ensure their well-being and give advice as to their care and maintenance.
If the social worker regards the home environment as harmful or potentially harmful to the child, or considers that the child's adoptive parents are unfit to care for the child, the worker should immediately speak to their line manager and consider what course of action to take. A risk assessment of the situation may need to be undertaken by the Area Team.
If the initial enquires indicate that adoption is obviously inappropriate or unlawful, the worker will consult with the Children Services Manager - Children's Services, and the Child Care Litigation Unit.
Where neither of the prospective adopters is a parent of the child, a medical report is required on each of the applicants and on the child. The reports must be provided by a registered medical practitioner and the cost of obtaining these reports is the responsibility of the prospective adopters.
CoramBAAF Adopters Assessment Reports AH for the adults and the appropriate child's medical form, IHA-C/ IHA- YP will be sent to applicants along with an acknowledgement of their notification to apply for an Adoption Order. Copies of each medical report must be lodged with the court.
Local authority and DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks will be done and the usual check and reference taken up. The personal referees will be interviewed by the social worker.
The procedure for the completion of the schedule for the court and the adoption hearing is the same as for non-agency adoptions.
The case must be entered on IRIS under non-agency adoptions and all activity entered.
Following the making of an adoption order the case file will be archived by the adoption support team and entered on the database (Social Worker to give file to the administrator).
The file will be kept for 100 years from the date of the adoption order.
If the case does not end in an adoption order it will be kept for five years from the date of closure and then treated as confidential waste.