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Can my baby be placed for adoption by the Local Authority against my will?
- AuthorChelsea Harris
Your baby being placed for adoption against your will is referred to as a non-consensual adoption or contested adoption. The term ‘forced adoption’ is not a term that is used within the Family Court but is used widely in the media.
Before an adoption order can be made, care proceedings will be issued. Click here to read more about how care proceedings begin and the process.
Adoption is not something that the Court will consider lightly and will only consider adoption where every other option has been ruled out. It is the Local Authority’s duty to ensure that every option has been assessed, this would include the child staying with their birth parents or being placed with an extended family member or friend. If all assessments have been completed and there is no one deemed suitable to care for the child, then the Local Authority will propose a final care plan of adoption.
When considering adoption for a child, the Court must be satisfied that:
- the child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm
- the Local Authority have made reasonable efforts to help the parents
- there is no relative or close friend that is able/willing to be a carer
- the child’s need for a permanent home cannot be met by a long-term foster home
The Court must also be sure that it is in the child’s best interest throughout their life. A care plan must show how the child will be cared for now and in the future and how this plan will meet the child’s needs. Click here to read an important case which sets out the proper way in which the Court should decide whether adoption is the best outcome for a child.
If the Local Authority are successful in their application, the Court will first grant a placement order. If this order is made at the final hearing, then the Local Authority must not delay in trying to find an adoptive home for the child. Click here to read more information about what a placement order is.
Once a placement order has been made, the Local Authority will need to secure perspective adopters who have passed all necessary checks and are a suitable match for the child. Once a child has been living with their prospective adopters for 10 weeks, they can then apply for an adoption order. Once an adoption order has been granted this gives the adopters full parental responsibility and removes the birth parents’ parental responsibility.
Once prospective adopters have been found, birth parents can request permission from the Court to oppose adoption, which is known as “leave” to oppose. To read more information about opposing an adoption, click here.
If you have Local Authority involvement with your children at Child Protection level ranging through to Care Proceedings in the Family Court, then Johnson Astills can assist you. We have experience in assisting parents at all stages of Local Authority involvement. Please contact Johnson Astills at either our Leicester office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, you may prefer to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our enquiry form.