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6.4.3 Presentation of Prospective Adopters’ Cases to the Adoption Panel


  1. The Panel Recommendation
  2. After the Panel Recommendation

1. The Panel Recommendation

The assessing social worker will attend the Panel meeting (and their manager where appropriate), together with the applicants if they so wish. The decision to attend rests with the applicants and a wish not to attend will not prejudice consideration of their application.

Applicants who decide they wish to attend should be fully prepared as to the procedure prior to their attendance (see the Assessment of Prospective Adopters Procedure, The Prospective Adopter's Report).

The Panel will consider the Prospective Adopter's Report together with all the supporting documentation (see the Assessment of Prospective Adopters Procedure, The Prospective Adopter's Report), and make a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker (Adoption) regarding the suitability of the applicant to adopt a child. The Panel may request the agency to obtain any other relevant information which it considers necessary, and may obtain legal advice as it considers necessary in relation to the case.

Where, during the Stage Two Assessment stage, the agency was of the opinion that the prospective adopter is unlikely to be suitable to adopt, and prepared a brief Prospective Adopter’s Report without having obtained all the assessment information, then the Adoption Panel must either request the preparation of a full Prospective Adopter’s Report having obtained all the assessment information, or recommend that the prospective adopter is not suitable to adopt.

The recommendation will be recorded in writing and, where approval is recommended, the record will include any advice given about the number of children the prospective adopter may be suitable to adopt, their age range, sex, likely needs and background.

Reasons for the recommendations and any advice as set out above will also be recorded in the Panel's minutes.

The adoption worker undertaking the assessment will advise the applicant of the Panel recommendation within 24 hours of the Panel meeting. This will be verbally, by telephone or, where appropriate, a home visit.

2. After the Panel Recommendation

The decision as to whether the prospective adopter is suitable to adopt a child must be made within 4 months of the date on which the agency received the prospective adopter’s notification that they wished to proceed to Stage Two of the assessment process.

The decision may be delayed:

  • Where there are exceptional circumstances which mean that the decision cannot be made within that time; or
  • Upon the request of the prospective adopter.

If the decision is delayed, the reasons must be recorded on the prospective adopter’s case record, along with supporting evidence.

The Agency Decision Maker (Adoption) will make a decision as to the suitability of the applicant, and express a view on any Panel advice given, based on the reports presented to the Adoption Panel and the minutes detailing the Panel's recommendation and advice.

Where the Agency Decision Maker (Adoption) is minded to disagree with the Panel recommendation, they must first discuss the case with another senior officer with relevant experience, who must not be a Panel member, before arriving at a final decision. This discussion must be recorded and placed on the child's and the prospective adopter's Adoption Case Record.

The decision must be made within 7 working days of the ADM receiving the reports from the Adoption Panel meeting referred to in AAR17 (2D) or receipt of the recommendations and final set of minutes of the adoption panel. and must be recorded, together with reasons.

The Panel Administrator will arrange for the applicants to be sent oral notification of the decision within 2 working days and written notice of the decision, signed by the Agency Decision Maker (Adoption), within 5 working days of the decision. See Assessment of Prospective Adopters Procedure, Appendix 1: Standard Decision Letter – Not Suitable to Adopt.

Where the decision differs from the recommendation of the Adoption Panel, a copy of the Panel recommendation will be sent to the applicant/s with the written notification of the decision.

All successful applicants will be allocated an adoption social worker whose task is to support the adopters through the period of waiting for a placement, identify any further training needs, arrange updated medical examinations as requested by the Medical Adviser, consider any potential matches and discuss any such matches with the approved adopters before a match is presented to the Adoption Panel. The adoption social worker will visit at least once every 6 months.

Approved adopters will be asked to be available for children from the local authority area in need of an adoptive placement.

They will also be informed of local support groups and be advised of their responsibility to maintain links with the adoption social worker and keep them informed of any significant changes in their situation.

Approved prospective adopters should be encouraged to identify children they might be suitable to adopt. This can be through attending Adoption Activity and Exchange Days, viewing publications such as Children Who Wait and Be My Parent or accessing online resources such as Adoption Link.