Response to Public Law Working Group’s Adoption Interim Report

Resolution’s response to the recommendations for best practice in respect of the Adoption Interim report of the Adoption Sub-Group of the Public Law Working Group

Resolution has responded to The Adoption Sub-Group of the Public Law Working Group interim report: Recommendations for Best Practice in Respect of Adoption.

Adoption orders are made in a wide variety of circumstances and this report seeks to address this. The report contains many recommendations, some of which relate to wider policy issues such as openness within adoption and others to more detailed issues of procedure for both domestic and international adoption.

This response has been prepared by members of Resolution’s Legal Aid, International and Children Committees made up of local authority lawyers, lawyers acting for parents and those acting for children on a day to day basis.

General comments

This paper is welcomed and broadly speaking, Resolution endorses almost all of the recommendations. Resolution thanks the Adoption Sub-Group for the hard work and detailed research and analysis that has led to the comprehensive report.

There is an almost universal view in any case that the only realistic contact is letterbox contact. Our experience is that we find that many PAs often have no idea that the birth parents are able to mount a challenge once the application for adoption has been made. This makes advising them/ representing them more difficult and leads to stress and often distress in first meetings between PAs and solicitors and beyond into contested proceedings. We sense that social workers will often gloss over this remaining right of birth parents so as not to have difficult conversations with the PAs, although this is only our supposition and is not of course the case in every LA.

As are always surprised and upset by the time it takes and the delays in the court process. Birth parents often have no idea they still retain PR and that the placement order did not remove their PR. They are often not aware they can seek to challenge the adoption and /or ask the court to consider contact. Prior to the changes in legal aid recently, it was also very difficult for birth parents to find people to represent them as funding was not straightforward. The changes to legal aid may help but that said, many solicitors may be reluctant to take on these cases given busy caseloads and where they have not represented the parent in the care case. It is accepted that sometimes birth parents do not wish to re-instruct the solicitor who acted for them in the care case but most practitioners would usually suggest this to any new client caller about an adoption application.

Adoption support is chronically underfunded. We frequently hear the same sad stories from adopters who are caring for children often in their teens, where things have become so difficult that the LA is involved again, often with care proceedings. Adopters usually tell us they have been battling since day one for more support which has not been provided and/or that they have somehow been blamed for the difficulties. In addition, adopters tell us that they were not informed of the child’s experiences prior to being placed and they were not provided with reports and other vital information.

November 2023

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