In this episode I’m joined by Natasha Philips. We discuss the current law surrounding adoption in the UK, including the irrevocable nature of adoption orders and what post-adoption contact actually means. We also talk about the on-going campaigns against non-consensual adoption, and what campaigners are saying.
Of course, we also speak about Natasha Philip’s wonderful project Researching Reform, how it came about and what drives Natasha to keep researching, producing and sharing her content with the world.
The Law we discuss:
Under s.66(1) Adoption and Children Act 2002 ‘adoption’ means:
(a) adoption by an adoption order, or a Scottish or Northern Irish adoption order;
(b) adoption by an order made in the Isle of Man or any of the Channel Islands;
(c) a ‘Convention adoption’;
(d) an ‘overseas adoption’; or
(e) an adoption recognised by the law of England and Wales and effected under the law of any other country.
An adoption order is an order that gives parental responsibility for a child to the adopters, which is made on their application to a court. The making of an adoption order exstinguishes the parental responsibility which any person had for the child immediately before the making of the order s.46 ACA 2002. An adoption order is irrevocable, save in the restricted circumstances of s.55 ACA 2002.
Parental Responsibility is defined in s 3(1) Children Act 1989 as being:
“all the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent of a child has in relation to the child and his property”.
Interim Care Orders:
At the start of care proceedings, the council asks the family court to make a temporary court order, called an ‘interim care order’.
If the court agrees, the child can be placed in local authority care on a temporary basis, which can be for up to 8 weeks at first. This is while the family circumstances are assessed and until the court can make a final decision about what is best for the child. The order gives parental responsibility for the child to the local authority, which is shared with others with parental responsibility. A child may remain living with family members during this process.
Post-adoption contact orders:
When making an adoption order the court must consider whether there should be arrangements made allowing any person contact with the child (Adoption and Children Act 2002 section 46(6)). Adoption orders in relation to contact are intended to be permanent and final.
Section 9 of the Children and Families Act 2014 introduced two new sections (s.51A and s.51B) into the Adoption and Children Act 2002 to govern post-adoption contact. These came into force on 22 April 2014. A Section 51A order can provide for contact or prohibit contact with specified individuals (s.51A (2)(b)). Section 51A (3)(a)-(e) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 identifies the categories of people who are permitted to be named in an order and includes any blood relatives or relatives through marriage or civil partnership. Any persons seeking an order for post-adoption contact must obtain the court’s leave to pursue their application (Section 51A(4)(c) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002).
In deciding whether leave should be granted, the court must consider the extent to which allowing such contact would disrupt the child’s new life, the applicant’s connection to the child, and any representations made to the court by the child or the adoptive family.
(This information on post-adoption orders was taken from https://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed200419)
Best Interests Principle:
Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that the best interests of the child must be a top priority in all decisions and actions that affect children.
Articles and other links:
Researching Reform – https://researchingreform.net
Researching Reform: Why campaigners are battling the UK’s adoption policy – Report
Researching Reform: Politicians call for state inquiry into force and illegal adoptions
Jo Ward and Joe Smeeton’s paper on adoption – “The End Of Non Concensual Adoption? Promoting the Wellbeing of Children in Care
The Good Social Worker Guide – https://goodsocialworker.com
Article by Natasha Philips for Apolitical on non-consensual adoption (link: https://apolitical.co/solution_article/child-health-why-uk-campaigners-are-battling-its-adoption-policy/) apolitical.co/solution_artic…
BBC 4 – Womens hour – Zara telling her story about running away to France to ‘keep her baby’ – Listen here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-47802296
Family Court Statistics (Quarterly, England and Wales, Jan-March 2019) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/811693/FCSQ_January_to_March_2019_final.pdf
Family Drug and Alcohol Court – https://fdac.org.uk
Community Care – https://www.communitycare.co.uk
Re B (A Child) (Post-adoption Contact)  EWCA Civ 29
Natasha writes about Re B (A Child)  on Researching Reform which you can find here.
Re BS (Children)  EWCA Civ 1146
Information about the judgment in Re BS (Children)  can be found on Family Law Weekly here.
Contact me if you have any questions:
Twitter : @voicesoffamlaw