To mark Adoption Week Scotland, our Adoption specialist, Emma Letham, has put together a series of blogs, answering commonly asked questions from Prospective Adopters.
Do Prospective Adopters need to take part in the Children’s Hearing process?
The short answer is no. Prospective Adopters do not need to take part in the Children’s Hearing process.
However, it is something to which you might want to give some consideration, particularly if the child’s birth parent(s) are likely to oppose the Adoption Order at Court.
When a child is living with their Prospective Adopters, the child will often be the subject of a Compulsory Supervision Order (“CSO”) through the Children’s Hearing System.
The CSO is required to be reviewed every 12 months from the date it was issued. The CSO is reviewed at a Children’s Hearing and the Panel Members are able to make substantive changes to the CSO. These changes can include the contact which a child has with their birth parent(s).
As a Prospective Adopter, you have no automatic right to attend or contribute to the Children’s Hearing. In addition, unless you are deemed a “Relevant Person” by the Children’s’ Hearing, you are unable to Appeal decisions of the Panel Members. The child’s Social Worker cannot Appeal a decision.
Therefore, some Prospective Adopters wish to be deemed “Relevant Persons” to allow them to attend and contribute to the Children’s Hearings for the child. This also provides them with the right to Appeal a decision if the Panel Members make a decision which the Prospective Adopters do not believe is in the child’s best interests.
The test for being deemed a “Relevant Person” is as follows; –
“The individual has (or has recently had) a significant involvement in the upbringing of the child”.
A Prospective Adopter should therefore easily meet this test (if the child is currently living with the Prospective Adopter).
A child’s birth parents automatically have “Relevant Person” status.
In some Adoption Cases, where the birth parent(s) are opposing the Adoption Petition, the birth parent(s) may request an early Review Hearing to ask the Panel if contact can be re-instated between them and the child.
If the Prospective Adopters are deemed Relevant Persons, then they have a right and duty to attend Children’s Hearings for the child and have their views heard by the Panel Members.