Adoption Agencies - role in the adoption process

These are agencies through which children are offered for adoption, these may be for example, private agencies or local authorities.

Adoption agencies should consider the suitability of an adopter and should offer counselling services, explain the legal implications and procedure and provide written information about the adoption.

An adoption agency before "placing" a child for adoption must carry out certain investigations. They should compile a case record for each child covering the history of the child and it's parents, including their health, and also prepare medical reports.

They should also find out about the wishes and feelings of a parent about consenting to adoption and their wishes for the child's religious and cultural upbringing.

Where the father does not have a Parental Responsibility Order and his identity is unknown the agency should still try and find out if he intends to apply for a Parental Responsibility Order.

The agency should also compile a case record on the adoptive parents, dealing with for example, the reasons for adopting, their experience in caring for children etc.

The application of the adopter will be referred to the adoption panel and they will send the adopter a copy of the agency's assessment of them, giving 28 days for them to make written comments on the assessment. The agency must pass on those comments to the adoption panel.

If a child is in the care of the local authority or a voluntary organisation, then that local authority or voluntary organisation has parental responsibility for the child. Their consent must be sought before the application is put before the adoption panel.

The panel will recommend whether adoption is in the child's best interests, whether an application should be made for a "Placement Order" dispensing with the need for a parent's consent and whether the adopter is suitable to adopt that particular child or any child.

The adoption panel will inform the agency of its recommendations.
The agency will then inform the adopters in writing as to whether they are suitable.

If they are unsuitable reasons must be given. The adopter has 28 days to make representations if they are refused as adopters. Otherwise the adoption panel will make a final decision.

If accepted an adopter will be sent information about the child's history and background.

The agency must also notify the local authority, health authority, local education authority and the adopter's doctor.

The agency will visit the child after he or she has been placed with the adopters (within 1 week) to check on the child's wellbeing and prepare a report.

The agency should provide the adopter with advice and assistance, and monitor the child's health.

The agency must review the child's placement regularly.

Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, an Adoption and Children Act Register was established to suggest links between children and approved adopters. Local authorities now also have a duty to maintain an adoption service and provide adoption support services.

The Act also introduced a new independent review mechanism for prospective adopters who feel that their application has been unfairly turned down.

Placement Orders - placing a child for adoption

Adoption Law