Once your child has been looked after (whether it is under a court order or with your agreement) for four months (or sooner if you have a very young baby) Children's Services must make a long-term plan for your child. This is called a permanence plan. A permanence plan could include your child returning home, or living with a relative or an unrelated foster carer long term or in some cases, being adopted.
Adoption is more likely to be thought about if your child is a baby or a young child.
When your child's social worker is thinking about the best long term plan for your child, they should discuss all possible options with you. Sometimes there may be two alternatives which the social worker thinks about at the same time. You may hear this being called parallel planning or, for a young baby, concurrent planning.
Before making any plan for adoption your child’s social worker should:
- find out what you and your child (if they are old enough) think is the best plan;
- find out if there is any person in your child's family willing to bring up your child instead of you. The social worker may offer you and your family a Family Group Conference to talk about whether there are family members who are willing to bring up your child. If you find someone in the family who is able to raise your child, the social worker will then say whether they agree with this plan and, if so, they will assess that person to see if they are suitable. If you are not offered a family group conference, you can ask for one; and
- ask the agency decision maker to decide if adoption is the right plan for your child. If adoption is agreed as the plan, then Children's Services will apply to court for a Placement Order. A Placement Order will allow them to place your child for adoption. This may be part of Care Proceedings.