Adoption is not forever?

By Paul Hunt at 00:00

An Adoption Order is one of the most significant and final orders that can be made in relation to a child’s future. In effect this presses the reset button on parentage so that the birth family, in a legal sense, ceases to exist.

The order is intended to provide security and stability for the future of a child; it is in no sense regarded as a temporary or a holding position whilst the birth family address their issues!

It is not at all unusual for Adoption Orders to be the result of care proceedings, if it is impossible for either parent to meet all the needs of the child, and if there are no suitable kinship carers.

It is only on very rare occasions that applications to revoke an Adoption Order are made. However, developments in a recently reported case have certainly stirred up debate. 

In this case a 14 year old girl made an application for her own Adoption Order to be set aside.  The original order had been made 10 years ago. There had been a serious breakdown between her and her adoptive family, and with threats that she would be sent to live with other adults who would abuse her.

In her case, happily, she has been granted an order revoking her adoption and has been reunited with her birth family.

It was emphasised repeatedly by the Court that this situation was extremely unusual and it should not be regarded as opening the door to children or anyone else making applications to set aside Adoption Orders.

Of course it is not always possible to turn back the clock.  In this case, the teenager has gone back to her birth family but suppose that was not possible? If a child had been made the subject of a Care Order with a plan for adoption it was on the basis that the parents were not able to meet the needs of that child for whatever reason.

If those problems still exist then the Court would not simply return a child to live with the birth family if that was simply a case of “out of the frying pan into the fire”.  In this present case I assume that the Court was happy that her needs would be met within her birth family. 

A breakdown of an adoptive family could just have easily resulted in further care proceedings, a further placement of one kind or another being sought, either within family members if appropriate or in the case of an older child, long term foster care.

What this case demonstrates is an interesting in road into the principal that “adoption is for life”.

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Paul Hunt

Paul Hunt , Senior Associate

As a senior solicitor Paul is responsible for cases involving divorce or separation, children, financial and property issues and domestic violence.

He is member of Resolution panel for private children law, ancillary relief and domestic violence. Paul is also trained in Collaborative Law.

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