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/ 30 Sep 2011

Adoption – Placing children away from their parents

With the news today that adoption rates for children under 1 year old have fallen to a dramatic low of 60 children in 2011 and the average time that a child in care waits before being adopted is 2 years 7 months, it is sometimes difficult to understand how adoption works, why so few children are being adopted and why the wait is so long.
This is especially confusing when many recent news headlines are concerned with the ever increasing number of children being taken into care by Local Authorities.

As a law firm with a specialist department which deals solely with public law children matters Hanne & Co. is well placed to deal with all matters concerning the care of children and adoption.

Many of our clients come to us when they have been notified by social services that there are very serious concerns about their children. Often with advice and co-operation the family situation is able to improve and social services decide they don’t need to be involved; however sometimes the concerns continue and social services decide that the children are suffering significant harm. At this point the local authority will often commence care proceedings.

There are many stages to care proceedings but if at the end of the whole process (which is meant to only last 40 weeks but usually lasts well over 1 year) the Court may make a Care Order which permanently removes a child from its parent’s care. Depending on many factors the Local Authority may tell the Court that it thinks that the best future for the child is for him or her to be adopted.
If a child is adopted then the birth parents lose their rights and parental responsibility for the child. Sometimes the Court decides that the birth parents should have some contact with the child – we can advise on the circumstances in which this will happen which is different in every case.

Adoption is intended to provide a permanent placement for a child as an alternative to local authority care. Local Authorities are obliged to carefully assess and match the right adoptive family for a child. This process of assessment and matching can also be a very complex procedure. Potential adoptive parents often seek our advice to help unravel the complexities of the system.

At Hanne & Co, our specialist child care department can advise on all legal aspects of law involving children and local authorities, including section 20 accommodation, emergency removal, foster care placements, family placements, special guardianships, adoptions, contact with children in care and discharging care orders. Four of our specialist child care solicitors are Law Society accredited Children Panel members. Please do call on 020 7228 0017 or email us at info@hanne.co.uk

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