Fostering for adoption
Fostering for adoption is a new practice which is being introduced to enable young children and especially babies to be placed with temporary foster carers who are also already approved as prospective adopters. The child is placed with them on a temporary fostering basis while their long term future is being decided by a court. The idea behind it is that if the court decides that child cannot be raised in their birth family (for example because the court has made a care order), they could stay with the same carers long term, and potentially be adopted by them, with minimal disruption. It is used when adoption is being considered for looked after children because the social workers think the child is unlikely to be raised by their parents or relatives in the long term. You should be able to have some contact when your child is in a foster for adoption placement, unless the court has refused this. However, it can be very difficult to argue for the child to return to their birth family once they have settled with 'foster for adoption' foster carers.
This is what the law says about fostering for adoption:
- If a child is looked after in the care system (either with the agreement of their parent/someone else with parental responsibility or under an emergency protection order or a care order) AND the social worker thinks that they will not be able to be raised by their parents or wider family long term, they must consider making alternative plans for the child's long term care. This may include them being adopted; AND
- If the social worker is considering adoption as the possible plan for the child, they are under a duty to consider placing them with relatives or others connected to the child but if there are none suitable, with approved foster carers who are also approved as prospective adopters.
- A child who is looked after with the agreement of their parent/someone else with parental responsibility can only be placed with prospective adopters on a foster for adoption basis if the parent/other person with parental responsibility agrees.
If fostering for adoption has been mentioned in your case it is essential that you get a solicitor straight away and, if you have not already done so, that you find out if there is anyone in your family who might be suitable to care for your child. If there is, tell the social worker and your solicitor immediately.
Placement for adoption:
Your child will be placed for adoption if:
- they move in with the people who have already been approved as being suitable to adopt your child by the adoption agency AND
- you have either agreed to your child being adopted (without anyone putting pressure on you and this has been formally witnessed by a CAFCASS officer) or the court has made a placement order.
The court can only make a Placement Order if:
- It is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that your child has suffered or is likely to suffer harm as a result of not being cared for properly by you or them being out of control; AND
- you have agreed to your child being placed for adoption OR the court has decided that your consent is not needed because it is best for your child if they are placed for adoption; AND
- it considers that being placed for adoption is the best thing for your child throughout their life.
Sometimes the court will consider making a placement order as part of care proceedings when adoption is the plan for a child who is the subject of care proceedings.
Once a placement order has been made, the child can only be placed for adoption if the adoption panel has 'matched' the needs of the child with suitable prospective adopters whom it considers can meet their long term needs.
- Your child can only be placed for adoption with these 'foster for adoption' foster carers if they were formally matched with your child as being suitable to adopt him/her.
- Placement for adoption is different to fostering for adoption. In fostering for adoption your child could be placed with prospective adopters only on a temporary foster care basis. They cannot be adopted by these foster carers unless the court makes an adoption order.
- Your child cannot be legally adopted until your child has lived with people who have been approved as prospective adopters for them for at least 10 weeks.