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.

For more information about the Children’s Hearing process or the Adoption legal process, please contact our Adoption specialists – Emma Letham at ell@wjm.co.uk and Roger Mackenzie at rlm@wjm.co.uk

To mark Adoption Week Scotland, our Adoption specialist, Emma Letham, spoke with a recent adopter about his experience of the Adoption Process:-

EL – What has been the best thing about adopting?

Achieving something that I never dreamed was possible. Adoption for same sex couples didn’t become legal until 2009, so becoming a parent wasn’t something that I believed would be possible and at times I still can’t believe I’ve achieved it. I love being a parent and being able to pour all the love that I have in to my son to ensure that he has love, stability and security is my key priority, he is everything to me. Watching him grow and develop in to a confident, funny loving little boy is the best part of it.

EL – Have you felt supported along your adoption journey?

Absolutely! Whilst the adoption process can be complex, and at times tricky, I’ve always felt supported throughout. Everyone (friends, family and colleagues) are there to offer and provide support all the time and everyone continues to ask questions in order for them to understand. You also have the opportunity to build strong relationships with other adopters and those relationships are extremely important. I’ve always felt supported by my social worker and solicitor too. Choosing a solicitor who specialises in adoption is vital as they can help you navigate the legal aspects of the process.

EL – What kind of support is there for adopters?

There is so much support available throughout the entire process, so there is no shortage of support. Your adoption agency provides excellent up-skilling during your preparation groups to ensure you understand the process and understand the background that your child is likely to have experienced. The relationships you form in these groups are important as we have become lifelong friends with the other adopters that we attended these groups with. You then have an allocated social worker who meets with you regularly and prepares you for the adoption panel. They then support you through the family finding stage and ensure that you are fully supported when your child or children move in. Your child or children will also have their own social worker, so they are always available for help and support. Then you have your solicitor and when your child or children have moved in and you are entering the legal aspects of the process, your solicitor is essential in providing that guidance throughout. In additional to the formal roles available, there’s also facebook groups and other online platforms that help you connect with other adopters.

EL – What advice would you give to someone who is considering adoption?

Keep your eyes on the prize. If your motivation is about being a parent, then adoption could be the route for you. It’s not straightforward for some people, but there’s plenty support available to ensure you are guided through each step. Unfortunately some children are out there and they are looking for their forever families. They could be looking for you ….

For any questions about the legal process for Adoption, please contact one of our solicitors who have expertise in dealing with adoption matters – Roger Mackenzie at rlm@wjm.co.uk or Emma Letham at ell@wjm.co.uk

Get in touch – call us on 03333 661 274