When exactly will a placement order be made?
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A placement order will often be made at the final hearing in care proceedings, at the same time as a care order. This is because a care plan for adoption can only be put into cation if children’s services have the court’s permission to place the child with prospective adopters.
Sometimes placement order proceedings happen separately. But this is usually soon after the care proceedings have ended. And only if in the care proceedings the Family Court decided a plan of adoption was best for the child. And a care order was made.
It is important for parents and families to be aware that the placement order stage is a key time when decisions are made about whether or not a child can go on to be adopted. So parents must ensure they have sought legal advice from a specialist children law solicitor for the care and placement order proceedings.
Adoption can only be considered as an option for a child if the court is satisfied there is no one else in the child’s family and friends’ network who can care for them.
The two highest courts in England (and Wales) are the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. They have decided cases that outline the legal tests for deciding whether adoption is the right option for a child. These cases have considered whether children should be adopted. Or whether there might be kinship care (family and friends) placements for them. This is because before adoption can be considered as an option for a child, the Family Court must be satisfied there is no one in the child’s family and friends’ network who can care for them.
These cases are:
- Re B (A Child)  UKSC 33
- Re B-S (Children)  EWCA Civ 1146
- Re R (A Child)  EWCA Civ 1625 and
- Re S (A Child)  EWCA Civ 325.
Together they make clear that:
- Orders contemplating adoption where parents do not agree to it are a ‘last resort’
- Adoption orders should only be made against parents’ wishes ‘where nothing else will do’ (a phrase used by a judge in the case of Re B (A Child)  UKSC 33)
- A Family Court can only conclude ‘nothing else will do’ if it has looked at all of the options that are realistically possible for a child
- Nothing else will do means being sure all of the possible realistic options for the child to be cared for within their family and friends’ network have been looked at first
- That both options on the mothers and family sides of the family should have been looked at
- The court must analyse the arguments for and against each of the possible realistic options
An option will not be realistically possible if the court is ‘in a position of some confidence and clarity that the option is plainly not one that would have any real prospect of being chosen if a full welfare evaluation of all the pros and cons were undertaken’ (see paragraph 54 in the case of Re S (A Child)  EWCA Civ 325).