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6.8.4 Contact and the Adoption Post - Box System

Contact After Adoption (Research in Practice)

Please see relevant section of Forms Library to access the required template.


Contents

  1. Considering Contact
  2. Other Issues for Consideration
  3. Contact and the Adoption Post Box Procedure


1. Considering Contact

  1. When a permanence plan of adoption has been agreed for a child the planning and decision making process must involve a thorough consideration of contact issues. The views of the child, birth parents and other relatives as well as any other person who has a significant relationship with the child must be sought regarding their wishes in relation to maintaining a link with the child after the child has been placed for adoption and an adoption order granted. (See Planning for Adoption and Preparation of the Adoption Plan and the Child's Permanence Report Procedure). A summary of these views and any proposed arrangements for contact must be included in the Child's Permanence Report, which is presented to the adoption panel. If the panel decides that the child should be placed for adoption, the panel must consider, and can provide advice to the agency on, contact arrangements. (See Presentation of Children’s Cases to the Adoption Panel Procedure).
  2. When a suitable placement for the child has been identified, the views of the prospective adopters must also be sought and taken into account when planning any contact arrangements. A summary of their views, and any proposed arrangements for contact must be included in the placement report, which is presented to the adoption panel. The adoption panel must consider, and can provide advice to the agency on, contact arrangements, and also the adoption support services the agency proposes to provide to the adoptive family, which may include services to facilitate contact. (See separate procedures: "Assessment of Need for Adoption Support Services and Preparation of Adoption Support Plan" and "Presentation of Proposed Placements to the Adoption Panel Procedure")
  3. Once the adoption agency has obtained authorisation to place a child for adoption, any local authority duty or court order in relation to contact under the Children Act 1989 no longer applies. Contact Orders can be made under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, but there is no presumption for or against contact. In coming to a decision the child's welfare will be the paramount consideration.


2. Other Issues for Consideration

  1. The guiding principle when considering contact arrangement must be that the contact proposed will benefit the child concerned. It is the child's right to maintain links with their birth family, not the birth family's right to maintain contact with the child. Contact should not be offered as a bargaining point to encourage otherwise unwilling birth parents to consent to adoption plans. All arrangements for contact, including indirect contact, need to be well considered, and set up with care. Social workers should avoid making automatic assumptions that there will be contact, and what form this will take.
  2. Contact can range from direct (e.g. face to face, telephone contact) or indirect e.g. exchange of information, photographs, through the Agency by means of a " Post - Box" system The nature of the contact will depend on the age of the child, their relationship with the birth parent or relative concerned, and their attitude to the adoption plan. Direct contact would not normally be appropriate if the birth relative opposes the adoption plan, or the child is very young at the time of placement.
  3. In making arrangements, consideration should be given to whether the birth relative will be able to sustain their part of the agreement over a lengthy period of time. Expectations should not be raised in the child, which cannot be met.
  4. The timing of any contact should be carefully considered. It is often best to avoid times of the year when the emotions of everyone involved in the adoption are likely to be raised, such as the child's birthday, Christmas, or other significant anniversary.


3. Contact and the Adoption Post Box Procedure

  1. The child's social worker social (and social worker for the child's parents when a separate worker is allocated) should fully address contact issues as part of their work with the child and parents outlined in the procedure "Planning for Adoption and Preparation of the Adoption Plan and the Child's Permanence Report". An explanatory leaflet on the ERYC Adoption Post-Box should be given to the child's parent(s) or other relative/significant person when an indirect contact arrangement is being considered.
  2. A summary of the proposals for contact must be included in the child's permanence report;
  3. If indirect contact arrangements are to be facilitated through the adoption post-box, this should be discussed and agreed by the core group prior to the child's case being presented to the adoption panel.
  4. A birth relative agreement form must be completed in draft with each birth relative who is to have contact through the post-box. A copy of the draft agreement should be attached to the child's permanence report and a copy sent to the child's adoption link worker
  5. Following presentation of the child's case to the adoption panel, the contact arrangements should be reviewed to take account of any advice given by the adoption panel. The child and any other person affected should be fully consulted about any proposed change to the arrangements, before a final decision is made. Details of the contact arrangements must be included with the notification to the child's parent(s) of the agency decision following presentation of the child's case to the adoption panel.
  6. When a suitable family for the child is identified, any proposed contact arrangements, including indirect contact through the adoption post-box must be fully discussed with the prospective adopters, and their views sought. When applicable, the explanatory leaflet on the ERYC Adoption Post-Box should be given to the prospective adopters. A summary of the prospective adopters views on contact and of any proposed arrangements must be included in the placement report for the adoption panel. (See Presentation of Proposed Placements to the Adoption Panel Procedure).
  7. If indirect contact through the adoption post box is being proposed, and is agreed by the prospective adopters, this should be taken into account when assessing the adoptive family's need for adoption support services, and formulating the adoption support plan. (See Assessment of Need for Adoption Support Services and Preparation of Adoption Support Plans Procedure). A draft adoptive parents agreement form should be completed with the prospective adopters. The summary of post box-box contact arrangements should also be included in the draft adoption support plan. (The draft adoption support plan is submitted to the adoption panel with the Adoption Placement Report.)
  8. Following presentation of the proposed placement to the adoption panel the contact arrangements should be reviewed to take account of any advice given by the adoption panel. The child and any other person involved should be fully consulted about any proposed change to the arrangements, before a final decision is made.
  9. Following the agency decision, the adoption support plan and the summary of post-box contact arrangements and agreement forms should be finalised. Details of the contact arrangements must be included with the notification to the prospective adopter(s) and child's parent(s) of the agency decision following presentation of the child's case to the adoption panel.
  10. The adoption post-box co-ordinator will monitor the arrangements on an ongoing basis. A reminder letter will be sent out shortly before the date agreed for the contact, and all items received will be acknowledged with a thank you letter. An annual review of all non-active cases (i.e. where no contact has taken place on the agreed date) will be undertaken by the post box coordinator.

End