Case study: adoption application and why you need expert advice
J arrived with our clients 10 days before his 6th birthday after being in care for 2 weeks. During these 2 weeks in care J had been placed with 2 families who were unable to cope with the behaviours he was displaying.
J had been known to the Local Authority before he was born due to issues with drug and alcohol use of the birth parents. J had stayed with several of the birth parent’s family members and moved through different Local Authority’s during this time.
Initially J was accommodated by the Local Authority under section 20 Children Act 1989. This is a voluntary arrangement, and the birth parents keep their parental responsibility for J. Section 20 (8) states that any person with parental responsibility for a child may at any time remove the child from the accommodation provided by or on behalf of the Local Authority. Due to this being a voluntary arrangement the Local Authority were keen to obtain more permanency for J and soon issued care proceedings and an application for an Interim Care Order was submitted.
When J arrived with our clients, he had not received any diagnosis. However, it was apparent that he was very developmentally delayed. J was unable to attend school due to his extremely challenging behaviours.
J was placed with our clients as foster carers and at the start it was unclear whether this would be a long- or short-term placement. The placement with our clients was a solo placement as J could not cope being around other children. Eventually the placement became permanent.
Our clients were keen to make the placement more permanent for J and discussions were had with the Local Authority. The Local Authority had initially asked our clients to consider a Special Guardianship Order for J. However, they did not believe that this was appropriate for him. Our clients wanted an order that would allow them to have sole parent responsibility for J. They informed the Local Authority that they would prefer adoption.
J has extremely complex needs and our clients were keen to have a support plan in place before the adoption order was made. Our clients had to make a decision that one of them would have to give up their job to allow them to care for J full time. This would obviously have a significant impact on their family income. Due to this they were keen to get a financial support package agreed by the Local Authority prior to the adoption application being submitted. Due to J’s complex needs our clients were also keen to have this financial support in place until J was the age of 18. Our clients were keen to have respite available, again due to J’s complex needs. The respite was also incredibly important as during school holidays J was unable to attend any holiday clubs due to his behaviours. They also wanted to have a written agreement that J would have access to post adoption therapeutic interventions and support should this be required.
At this time there was no placement order for J and the plan suggested by the Local Authority was for them to apply for a placement order and then for our clients to be assessed as adopters. Our clients approached the regional adoption agency who said they would not assess them until after the placement order was made.
Tracy Steel, specialist adoption solicitor provided advice to the clients in regard to making an application for an adoption order.
An adoption order was made in respect of J.
If you are looking at making an adoption application or want advice on the plan of adoption over a Special Guardianship Order, it is vital that you obtain independent legal advice. Here at the Adoption Legal Centre, we have a specialist team who would be able to advise you on the process of adoption and also provide advice on whether a Special Guardianship Order would be more appropriate. We would also provide advice on costs.