Birth parent’s wishes

It is not uncommon for a birth family to disagree with their child being placed for adoption and/or to be unhappy with the choice of adoptive family.

In some cases the birthparents may hold discriminatory views regarding potential adoptive parents. To help agencies in these cases, New Family Social has consulted with BAAF to produce the recommendations below.

The Revised Adoption Guidance (Adoption and Children Act 2002) First Revision 2011 states:

2 (30) The wishes and feelings of the child’s parent, guardian or others should be recorded on the child’s case record as this information will need to be included in the CPR and taken into account during the matching process.

Additionally, the new National Minimum Standards for adoption make it clear that an adoption agency should be active in its efforts to involve the birth parents and birth family in the adoption plan (NMS Standard 12).

However, the paramount consideration must always be the welfare of the child. The revised Guidance from February 2011 states, in the section on matching:

Any practice that classifies couples/single people in a way that effectively rules out the adoption because of their status, age or because they and the child do not share the same racial or cultural background is not child-centred and is unacceptable.

Key principles in all of the guidance (and in the recent  DfE ‘An Action Plan for Adoption: Tackling Delay’) are inclusiveness of all adopters who have the potential to meet a child’s needs, and the need to place the child promptly without delay based on the child’s assessed needs.

Whilst the birth parents’ wishes should be taken into account, this does not imply that these wishes should be the overriding factor. A birth parent’s wish and a child’s need may not be the same. The needs of the child should be assessed first, and then the widest range of adopters who can meet this need should be considered.

Where the views of a birth parent are discriminatory, an agency should help the family with this rather than concur with it or allow it to negatively influence the outcome for the child.

We urge agencies to think about what the need is and to explicitly state this rather than exclude families.

For example, if it is perceived that the child specifically needs a male or a female role model to be regularly involved in their lives it should be stated as such, and the meaning and reason clarified. At the same time, the adoptive family should be allowed to show how they can meet this need, including within their wider family and support network.

Equally, if it is perceived that it would be difficult for a single adopter to meet the high demands/needs of the child this should be stated, whilst allowing single adopters to show how they might have the support network/capacity to meet these high needs.

July 2012