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7.1.12 Assessment and Approval of Inter Country Adopters

NOTE

Brighton and Hove City Council has commissioned The Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC), to carry out all aspects of assessment work of intercountry adopters for the City Council.

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

For Brighton and Hove staff, this procedure describes the process that includes the initial enquiry and post approval processes. It also covers the procedures to be followed by the Adoption and Permanence Team in relation to the adoption support service available to them. The Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC) can also advise Brighton and Hove staff on any adoption or overseas placement (including SGOs etc.) that have intercountry elements, whether the child is coming to or going from the UK. (See Section 1, The Role of the Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC).)

RELATED CHAPTERS

This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Adoption National Minimum Standards, Standard 11.

For procedures in relation to the placement of a child resident in the UK with adopters resident overseas, see Placement for Adoption Procedures.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Adoption Support Fund

GOV.UK Adopting a child from overseas

AMENDMENT

This chapter was significantly updated in November 2017 and summarises the role of the Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC) in a new Section 1, The Role of the Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC) and includes contact details for them. Additionally, ‘After Approval’ information has been added on the Intercountry Adoption Forms: checklist for adoption which details the paperwork adoption agencies must include in the intercountry adoption applications they submit to DfE. Links were also added to ‘GOV.UK Adopting a child from overseas’ and ‘Adoption Support Fund’, (see Relevant Links above).


Contents

  1. The Role of the Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC)
  2. Responding to Requests for Information
  3. After Approval
  4. Matching
  5. Post Placement Duties
  6. Post Adoption Support
  7. Placement Breakdowns
  8. Review of Approval


1. The Role of the Intercountry Adoption Centre (IAC)

This includes all work from initial enquiries right through to approval of adopters, matching, and post-placement reports. The link person for this service is the Brighton and Hove Fostering Agency Adviser. Any enquiries that come to any team in Brighton and Hove, e.g. the adoption team, the Pods, or the Front Door for Families (FDFF), should be directed immediately to IAC. Once a referral has been made to the IAC, Brighton and Hove should not expect to have any further involvement with the case until/unless:

  • A request for an adoption support assessment is made to Brighton and Hove;
  • We are notified that a child needs to be adopted in the UK, in which case a Pod social worker should be appointed to liaise with IAC, who will by negotiation support the adopters; the Brighton and Hove worker will monitor the child’s well-being;
  • A placement breakdown is notified to us;
  • We are notified of a potentially illegal placement;

Contact details for the IAC are given below:

The Intercountry Adoption Centre, 22 Union Street, Barnet, Herts, EN5 4HZ 
tel 0208 447 4751
www.icacentre.org.uk (Current contact is Grace.Rogers@icacentre.org.uk or info@icacentre.org.uk)

Note: The Fostering Agency Adviser in Brighton and Hove has full details of the contract.


2. Responding to Requests for Information

All requests for information about inter country adoption made by telephone or letter will be responded to promptly, by being referred directly to the IAC. The IAC will, on behalf of Brighton and Hove, ask whether domestic adoption has been fully considered, before giving advice on intercountry adoption. The IAC will from the outset give details of the fees that are payable by the applicants to access the service.

The IAC will provide the enquirer with further information and counselling and send a detailed information pack regarding intercountry adoption, the assessment process and charges and the likely timescale involved. IAC will also advise the enquirer of the different processes and eligibility criteria for specific countries. If the enquirer wishes to pursue inter-country adoption after receiving this pack they should liaise directly with IAC who will then provide the preparation, assessment and approval service.


3. After Approval

Following approval, IAC will forward to the Department for Education and Skills (DfE) the reports presented to their Adoption  Panel, the Adoption Panel minutes, and the written notice of the Agency Decision Maker’s decision.

The Intercountry Adoption Forms: checklist for adoption details the paperwork adoption agencies must include in intercountry adoption applications they submit to DfE.

The process is as follows:

  • After approving intercountry adoption applicants as suitable to adopt, adoption agencies must send a completed application to the Department for Education (DfE) intercountry adoption casework team.
  • It is recommended that agencies attach the checklist to the front of the application to make sure they send all the necessary documents.
  • The adoption applicant must complete the contact sheet as part of the application.
  • The checklist includes instructions on when to use the disclaimer.
  • The ‘Intercountry adoption and resident status requirements’ guidance is for prospective adopters.
  • Agencies must make sure that the application is complete before sending it to the casework team as the submission of incomplete files will result in delays.

IAC will continue to support the prospective adopters and deal with all related correspondence with the DfE until a child is placed with the prospective adopters.  Brighton and Hove’s Pods  will only become involved following the placement of a child with the prospective adopters. The process for identifying a child and adopting her will vary from country to country, and will depend largely on whether the Country has ratified the Hague Convention.

The Secretary of State (Intercountry Adoption Team of the DfE in Darlington) will check whether the statutory requirements have been met and will then decide whether to issue a Certificate of Eligibility and Suitability and inform IAC and the prospective adopters of the decision.

The DfE will then arrange for the necessary papers to be passed to the ‘Central Authority’ in the relevant foreign country, which decides whether to accept the application and identifies a child to be matched with the adopters.

The DfE will confirm in writing to IAC and the prospective adopters that the papers have been sent.


4. Matching

The matching part of the process may be the subject of considerable delay depending on the waiting list of the chosen country.

If the authorities in the relevant country approve the application, when a suitable child is available for placement, they should send the papers to the Department for Education, who will in turn send them to IAC and the prospective adopters.

Occasionally, the country will inform the prospective adopters directly; they should be advised during the Home Study to inform their Supervising Social Worker immediately if this happens.

The Supervising Social Worker from IAC will then arrange to discuss the child with the prospective adopters at a face-to-face meeting to be held within 10 working days of receipt of the information, before the prospective adopters make a decision or make any plans to travel to meet the child. The Medical Adviser will prepare a report on the medical needs of the child and this will be shared with the prospective adopters during the face-to-face meeting. If necessary the prospective adopter will be given the opportunity to discuss the child’s medical needs with the Medical Adviser.

Before accepting a child, the prospective adopters must travel to meet the child in the country where the child lives. Where a couple is applying to adopt, both applicants must travel.

If the prospective adopters wish to proceed with the match they must provide the Supervising Social Worker at IAC with written confirmation of their wish to do so. The Supervising Social Worker will inform the DfE in writing that this written confirmation has been received. As soon as the prospective adopters have travelled to the foreign country and accepted the match, they should, as they will have been advised by the Supervising Social Worker, apply for entry clearance for the child, by sending the child’s details to the Entry Clearance Officer at the UK Embassy or High Commission closest to the country where the child is living. Depending on the country chosen, the applicants may have to return to the UK and then go back to their chosen country to collect their child.

Where there are no suitable children to match with the prospective adopters, the overseas authority will notify the DfE, and they will notify IAC. The IAC Supervising Social Worker will inform the prospective adopters and assist them to decide what further action to take, including further assessment and a further report to the IAC Adoption Panel seeking approval for a different country.


5. Post-Placement Duties

The Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the Adoptions with a Foreign Element Regulations 2005 (FER), which follow on from the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973, enable adoption orders in countries listed in the Order to be recognised in the UK.

Children from Designated Countries

If an adoption order has been made in a Designated Country, it is recognised under UK law and the child’s visa usually states ‘for settlement’. IAC will inform the local authority that the child has been placed with an adopter in the Brighton and Hove area. IAC then has no further involvement. Brighton and Hove's Adoption Support Service will be responsible for making arrangements for post-adoption services, if appropriate (see Adoption Support Services Procedure).

Should the child placed be from a country that requires progress reports to be completed it is the responsibility of the adopters to commission (and fund) the completion of this report from IAC or Brighton and Hove City Council. The report(s) must be written by a suitability qualified Social Worker (see Adoption and Permanence Panel Constitution and Terms of Reference).

Adoption Orders made in Designated Countries do not automatically result in the child acquiring British citizenship. An application for registration will usually need to be made; application forms can be obtained from the Nationality Directorate of the Home Office or from any British Diplomatic Post.

Children from Non-Designated Countries

If the child matched with the prospective adopters is from a non-designated country, IAC will inform the local authority of this as soon as the adopter confirms they wish to proceed with the placement.

The arrangements for the placement will vary from country to country; the prospective adopters will either adopt the child in the child's country or bring the child to the UK for the purposes of adoption in a UK Court.

If an Adoption Order has been made in a Non-Designated Country, the Order is not recognised in the UK.

The prospective adopters must seek clearance for the child to enter the UK from the nearest British Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. If the Entry Clearance Officer is satisfied that the entry requirements have been met, a visa for a limited period, usually one year, will be issued.

IAC will advise the prospective adopters of their legal duty to notify Brighton and Hove City Council FDFF and Adoption and Permanence Team within 14 days of arriving in the UK with the child, of their intention to apply for an Adoption Order (or their intention not to provide a home to the child). This notice should be acknowledged by the FDFF or Adoption and Permanence Team.

An adoption application cannot be made until the child has lived with the prospective adopters for 6 months or more. Where the prospective adopters have not complied with all the necessary regulations, the child must have lived with them for at least 12 months.

On receipt of the notification, the Adoption and Permanence Team will arrange for a Supervising Social Worker to liaise with the prospective adopters, and the Brighton and Hove Agency Adviser will liaise with the FDFF or Pod in order that a separate social worker can be allocated to monitor the child's welfare by regular visits to the family home. The allocated worker must fulfil the qualifications and experience criteria set out in the Adoption and Permanence Panel Constitution and Terms of Reference.

An Adoption Case Record must also be set up for the child. Any information received from the relevant authority in the child's state of origin, the agency that approved the prospective adopters (if not the local authority), the prospective adopters, the Entry Clearance Officer and the DfE should be placed on the Adoption Case Record. A separate file containing copies of all the relevant papers on the adopters must also be created.

The allocated worker for the child must send notification of the child's arrival in the UK to the prospective adopter's GP (including a written and up to date health report on the child), the Medical Adviser to the Adoption Panel, the Nurse Consultant for Looked After Children, and (where the child is of school age) the Local Education Authority for the area where the prospective adopter lives.

Visits to the child should be weekly until the first review.

The allocated worker should also arrange for the placement to be reviewed within 4 weeks of the receipt of notice of intention to adopt. There must be regular liaison with the IAC worker throughout this period. Thereafter the requirement is for the local authority to visit and review no later than 3 months after the first review and thereafter every 6 months.

The purpose of the review is to enable the local authority to consider whether the child's needs are being met and if not, what advice and assistance may be provided. To do this, the review must consider the child's needs, welfare and development, and if any changes are required to meet the child's needs or assist his/her development; the arrangements for the provision of adoption support and whether there should be a re-assessment of the need for those services; and the need for further visits and reviews.

If the prospective adopters notify the local authority of their intention to move to the area of another local authority, the original local authority must notify the new authority of the child's name, sex, date and place of birth; each prospective adopter's name, sex, date and place of birth; the date the child entered the UK; the date of the notification to adopt; the contact details of IAC; whether an adoption application has been made and if so, the stage of the proceedings; and any other relevant information.

The allocated Social Worker should advise prospective adopters of the most appropriate timing of their adoption application. It is likely that the prospective adopters will need to apply for an extension of the child's visa, which is usually straightforward if an adoption application has been made.

When the prospective adopters make their adoption application, the Court will notify the adoption agency and request that a Court Report is produced supplied directly to the Court.

See Court Reports in Adoption/Special Guardianship Guidance for the list of the required contents of the report.

If no adoption application has been filed within 2 years, a special review must be held. The Supervising Social Worker should chair this review, which must consider the child's needs, welfare and development, and if any changes are required to meet the child's needs or assist his/her development; the arrangements for the exercise of Parental Responsibility in relation to the child; the terms of the child's entry clearance and the child's immigration status; the arrangements for the provision of adoption support and whether there should be a re-assessment of the need for those services; the arrangements for meeting the child's health care and educational needs; the reason why no adoption application has been made; and the options for the child's future permanence.

When an Adoption Order is made in the UK, it automatically confers British Citizenship on the child provided one of the adoptive applicants is a British citizen at the time the Adoption Order is made.

Where the adopters are not British citizens, they will need to seek clearance to allow the child to remain in the UK, on the same basis as them.


6. Post Adoption Support

Families who have adopted from abroad are eligible for assessment for adoption support as set out in the Adoption Support Services Procedure.


7. Placement Breakdowns

If, after the child is placed, the prospective adopters decide not to proceed with the adoption or an Adoption Order is refused or a Convention Adoption Order is annulled, the matter should be referred to the FDFF and Adoption Team. The child must be regarded as a Child in Need and an allocated fieldwork Social Worker must assess the child within 7 days in accordance with the Assessment Framework. This assessment must include whether it remains in the child’s interests to be placed in the UK. The child's Social Worker must notify the Department for Education (DfE) of the outcome.

Where it is decided that it would not be in the child's best interests to remain in the UK, the child's Social Worker must notify the DfE, who will notify the relevant overseas authority, which will make arrangements for the return of the child.

Where it is determined that it would be in the child's best interests to remain in the UK, the child's Social Worker must take the necessary steps to identify a suitable alternative placement in accordance with the Placement for Adoption Procedures and amend the child's immigration status.

Once an adoptive family has been identified, the child's Social Worker will notify the DfE, who will advise the child's country of origin of the change.


8. Review of Prospective Adopter's Approval

The requirements for reviewing the approval of approved inter country adopters with no placement is the same as for agency adopters, i.e. every 12 months - see Assessment and Approval of Prospective Adopters Procedure. IAC will be responsible for undertaking these reviews.

This requirement to review continues until (in relation to a Convention country) the prospective adopters have received notification in writing from the central authority that an agreement under Article 17 has been made so the adoption may proceed or (in relation to a non-Convention country) the prospective adopters have visited the child in their country and confirmed in writing that they wish to proceed with the adoption.

End