Practice Checklists for Adoption Panel Members and Agency Decision Maker


This chapter was developed/entirely revised in September 2012 and should be read in full

Note this chapter is to be updated in line with Statutory Guidance issued June 2012 at Department for Education website.

After September 1st 2012, Adoption Panels will no longer be considering as to whether a child, who is not relinquished for adoption by his or her parent(s), and for whom the final Care Plan of the Local Authority is adoption and an application for a Placement Order is required, should be placed for adoption. This will be a decision of the Agency Decision Maker, Head of Adoption. See Section 6, Agency Decision Maker (ADM) - Role and Process of Adoption Panel and Agency Decision Maker's Decision Procedure.

1. Applications in Respect of a Child

  • Has the adoption plan been formally endorsed as the Department's plan at a review and Permanence Report been signed off by the appropriate qualified locality manager?
  • Does the Child's Permanence Report provide a full and complete written picture of the child's past; heritage; personality; behaviour and attachment style; heredity and health status? Do you have a good picture of the child's future needs? Has the person who looks after the child been given the opportunity to contribute to the picture?
  • Does the Child's Permanence Report identify what likely support will be needed for the child in placement? Can you anticipate particular challenges in placing and supporting this child in an adoptive placement?
  • If the child is in care proceedings, is the child's Guardian in support of the plan?
  • Have birth parents received counselling by either the Adoption Support Team or offered independent support. What are their wishes and feelings? Have they seen the Child's Permanence Report and been given the chance to comment on it and on the adoption plan in writing;
  • Is there a coherent plan for future contact between the child and birth parents, siblings, grandparents and others? Is the plan consistent with adoption?
  • Is it intended that the child should be placed singly or together with siblings? Has that aspect of the plan been thought through and agreed by the Department? What is the plan to promote sibling relationships?
  • Is there sufficient evidence that parents have been unable to look after the child safely and successfully in spite of being offered relevant help to address parenting concerns? Why cannot either parent look after this child?
  • Has every attempt been made to help the child understand what is going on? What are the child's wishes and feelings? Have they been adequately explored? With older children particularly, are they likely to accept the adoption plan?
  • If the case has been made that the child needs a permanent placement away from birth parents and wider family, is it clear why adoption rather than long term fostering or special guardianship?

2. Approval of Adoptive Applicants

  • Have all the checks and reference been carried out as per the Procedure for Checks and Reference?
  • Are the references relevant to any issues about these adopters? Do they cover the main phases of their lives?
  • Look at the chronology and consider what patterns may be suggested about each adopter's ability to make and sustain close relationships with adults and children especially when under pressure;
  • Are issues arising from this fully explored by the social worker and resolved?
  • Are you clear about the applicants' motivation?
  • What evidence is presented about their ability or potential to parent? If not already experienced parents, what have they done to develop their parenting capacity?
  • What evidence is presented about the applicants' capacity to cope with the "adoption dimension"?
  • If the applicants are in a partnership, what is the evidence as to its stability, level of mutual satisfaction etc?
  • Is there a clear picture and rationale for the kind of child for whom the applicant wishes to be considered?
  • How well have the applicants prepared themselves and been prepared for adoption?
  • How strong do their support systems appear to be?
  • Is there a clear explanation as to how the family will adapt work, living arrangements, roles, spending, to cope with adopting a child?
  • Are there any obvious issues arising from the health, disabilities, levels of energy, age of applicants now and in the future which might be relevant to parenting?
  • Are you clear from reading the Assessment Report as to what the applicants are saying about themselves and what the social worker concludes about them? Do the two match?
  • Does this application seem well thought through and coherent?
  • What are the strengths?
  • Where are possible areas of vulnerability? Are these addressed in the adoption support plan?
  • Are the views of the applicants with regard to contact clear and in line with agency expectations?
  • Are they able to promote and sustain a child's cultural, religious and ethnic heritage?

3. Matches

  • Do you have sufficient updating information about the children and adopters since best interests and approval respectively to feel confident that their needs and capacities are well understood?
  • Do the adopters have a full and complete written picture of the child's past personality, behaviour and attachment style; heredity and health status? Is there evidence of the adopters actively researching aspects of the child's background where appropriate?
  • Does the age range for which the adopters are approved match that of the child?
  • Is the geography of the placement appropriate to the child's needs?
  • Has the child been adequately prepared for placement?
  • If the child is of sufficient age and understanding, what are the child's wishes and feelings about the match?
  • Which needs listed on the matching report are the adopters able to meet full/partially/not at all?
  • Does the list of characteristics adopters will consider match the profile of the child's needs?
  • If not, is their supplementary information about the adopters changing their view of what they have to offer?
  • What are their principal strengths?
  • What are the areas of need they meet less well or not at all?
  • How would you balance the strengths with the weaknesses?
  • How might this balance change during the children's lifetime?
  • What will be the impact on each and every member of the adopters household of the arrival of the child(ren)?
  • Consider the adopters' support systems in relation to this child(ren)
  • Have any identified needs/reservations by the current carer been properly addressed?
  • Is there sufficiently clear and detailed plan for contact with birth parents, siblings, grandparents and other significant people?
  • Is the contact plan well reasoned in terms of the child's needs?
  • Are there any considerations in terms of restriction of parental responsibility for adopters on placement?
  • Have prospective adopters have been adequately prepared for the possibility of indirect or direct contact arrangements?
  • Are there any specific risks inherent in this match?
  • Can they be reduced by better information; preparation; careful introductions; particular elements of adoption support?
  • Is the adoption support plan realistic, relevant and comprehensive? Does it cover all members of the adoptive family?
  • Is the financial support on offer (if any) relevant and sufficient?
  • What provision is made for birth parents? Have they been offered independent support through LINK?
  • Has a matching agreement and placement report been signed, does it cover all the relevant information?
  • If appropriate have the adopters met with the medical adviser?
  • Does the information from the adopters as to why they feel this match is appropriate meet the needs of this match?