Parental Consent to Adoptive Placement
Parental consent to a child's placement for adoption under section 19 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 must be given before a child can be placed for adoption by an adoption agency, unless a Placement Order has been made or unless the child is a baby less than 6 weeks old and the parents have signed a written agreement with the local authority. Section 19 requires that the consent must be witnessed by a CAFCASS Officer. Where a baby of less than 6 weeks old is placed on the basis of a written agreement with the parents, steps must be taken to request CAFCASS to witness parental consent as soon as the child is 6 weeks old. At the same time as consent to an adoptive placement is given, a parent may also consent in advance to the child's adoption under section 20 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 either with any approved prospective adopters or with specific adopters identified in the Consent Form.
When giving advanced consent to adoption, the parents can also state that they do not wish to be informed when an adoption application is made in relation to the child.
Where a child is placed for adopters with parental consent but parental consent is subsequently withdrawn before an adoption application is made, the prospective adopters must return the child to the local authority within 14 days and the local authority must return the child to the parent/s immediately unless the local authority decides to apply for an Emergency Protection Order, Interim Care Order or a Placement Order, or unless a Care Order already exists. In these circumstances, an urgent review of the case should be convened to consider what action can and should be taken. Where the child has not been placed for adoption and parental consent is subsequently withdrawn, the local authority must return the child to the parent/s within 7 days unless they decide to and there are grounds to apply for an Emergency Protection Order, Interim Care Order or a Placement Order or unless a Care Order already exists.
Where parental consent has been given and is not withdrawn prior to an adoption application being made in relation to the child, the parent's right to withdraw consent to the placement effectively ends. Parental consent to the adoption may be dispensed with by the Court under Section 47 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 on certain grounds* when dealing with the adoption application and the parents will only be able to actively oppose the application if they are granted leave by the Court. Leave will only be granted if there has been a change in the parent's circumstances since their consent was first given.
*The grounds on which the Court may dispense with parental consent to an adoption order are that: 1. The parent cannot be found or is incapable of giving consent; or 2. The welfare of the child requires the consent to be dispensed with