Placing a child for adoption: what must children’s services do?
4 minute read
Placement for adoption means that the adoption agency formally arranges for a child to live with. Adoption agencies assess people who want to adopt children (prospective adopters), to make sure they are suitable. An adoption agency will either be within a local authority (which will have children in its care). Or they might be an independent organisation, called a voluntary adoption agency.
Before a child can be placed with a family who wants to adopt them, children’s services and the Family Court have to follow certain legal procedures. These are explained in The Adoption and Children Act 2002.
It says children’s services can only place a child with a family for adoption if:
- The parents have given formal agreement to the placement (see section 19 (1) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002).This agreement must be agreement in writing. It has to be witnessed by a practitioner from Cafcass. For more information about this process, please read our advice sheet on Consent to adoption: information for parents OR
- The Family Court has made a placement order (see section 21 (1) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002).A placement order gives permission for children’s services to move a child to the care of someone who could go on to adopt them even if parents do not agree with the plan for adoption. This is called ‘placing’ the child.
Even if the Agency Decision Maker has approved a plan for a child to be placed for adoption, the adoption agency cannot actually act on the plan unless the court makes a placement order.
But, remember, these procedures do not need to be followed in the same way where a child is being cared for in a foster for adoption placement.
Important information about foster for adoption
Foster for adoption is a type of foster care used when adoption is being considered for a child and it:
- Involves babies and younger children who are looked after in the care system living with foster carers who may go on to adopt them
- Is allowed even though adoption is not yet the formal plan for the child
- Can happen even when the Family Court is not involved and has not agreed.
The idea is that the child is able to form a strong, early relationship with the people who may go on to be adopt them.
Children’s services and the court have to follow strict legal procedures before a child can live with a family who wants to adopt them. But the law and process is different if children’s services want to place a child in a foster for adoption placement.
So it is very important that any parent who thinks children’s services may be proposing their child is cared for in a foster for adoption placement urgently:
- Seeks legal advice from a solicitor who is a specialist in children law. Or who has Children Law Accreditation. To find a solicitor, search using the ‘how to find a solicitor’ function on the Law Society website. See our Working with a solicitor guide on our Top tips and templates page for more information about finding and working with a solicitor, or
- Contacts us – call Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (the advice line is open Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 3 pm)
- And read our Foster for adoption: information for parents advice sheet.
Our Foster for adoption: information for parents advice sheet covers:
- What foster for adoption means, including implications for parents and the child
- What needs to happen before a child is placed in a foster for adoption placement
What parents should do if a social worker tells them they want to place their child in a foster for adoption placement.