Is private adoption possible in the UK?

(29 Posts)
OvaryActing Sun 01-Nov-09 12:52:36

I know in the US it's possible to choose adoptive parents, is it possible in this country too?

I don't want to go into too many personal details but if a newborn baby needed 'new' parents, would I be able to have any say in where baby was placed, or even find the parents myself?

NanaNina Sun 01-Nov-09 15:36:48

Overyacting - Private adoption is not lawful in this country although it used to be in the past. If a mother relinquishes a baby for adoption she can if she wishes be involved to some extent in the actual placement. Mothers in this situation cannot "choose" the adoptors but they can be given details about the adoptors and in some cases they can have a face to face meeting. Many adoptors would welcome such a meeting although it will of course be emotional for all concerned. It can also be very positive especially for the birth mother if she feels that the prospective adoptor(s) are "right" for her baby.

Prospective adoptors have to demonstrate that they are sympathetic to the needs of birth mothers and that they will ensure that the child is aware of his/her origins and birth family etc. It can therefore be very positive for them to know all about you and meet if possible because then they can give the child helpful information about the birth mother and the reasons she had to give up the child for adoption etc.

I think for anyone in this position I would advise a talk with a sw who will be able to explain everything. There should not be any anxiety that you are committing yourself to anything at this stage, and no one can put pressure on anyone to relinquish a baby for adoption against their will.

Hope this helps.

Yes, it's true that there isn't private adoption, however if there were close family who wanted to adopt the child, for example, then this would be taken into account, especially if the child already had a close relationship with a family member, and was already being fostered by them. Obviously wouldn't apply to a newborn.

Is this what you mean, or are you wanting for your baby to be adopted?

OvaryActing Sun 01-Nov-09 19:11:30

Thanks for the help.
My situation in brief is as follows: My 16 year old son has got his 15 year old g/f pregnant. She is in care, and has spent her life in and out of care. The social workers aren't allowed to tell me much, but I know she has no family on her side and moves are being made to remove the baby from her at birth.

What I am hoping is that the birth mum will relinquish her rights to baby and have him or her adopted which imo will offer baby the very best opportunities in life.

I just wanted to know really whether it was possible for birth mum to have any say in where baby goes, which may help sway her decision. I think I am right in thinking that unless she gives her consent it would be unlikely for baby to be adopted against her will, which would mean a life in care for the little person.

I'm not great at getting my meaning down in writing so I hope this is clear. Obviously there will be lots to discuss and probably options that I haven't thought of or haven't been raised yet. I am just so sad for the baby who seems to have the odds stacked against him or her from before birth.

bigstripeytiger Sun 01-Nov-09 19:20:57

Its possible for babies to be adopted against the mothers wishes. Just because she wasnt willing to consent to adoption that would not in itself prevent adoption from happening if it was otherwise felt to be in the babies best interests.

shockers Sun 01-Nov-09 19:22:36

There are foster placements for young mums with their babies.
However, I understand what you mean... the adoption process can be terribly slow and even when it is decided that a child will be adopted before it is born, it can still take a year until he/she is placed with a family. When the birth mother doesn't want her child to be adopted, the child can end up in foster homes throughout his/her childhood.
Does the mum know that she could let her child be adopted and still see him/her?

CarGirl Sun 01-Nov-09 19:25:46

Your son will also be asked to give his consent or register his interest in the baby I think.

OvaryActing Sun 01-Nov-09 19:28:23

I've not actually met the mum yet. She lives 2 hours away. She and my son met when she was in a placement locally but she has since moved away.
I'm hoping that I will be able to create some kind of relationship with her as the weeks go by but not really sure where to start.
What are the chances that I will be offered to take the baby on? I am dreading if that happens because it would put me in such an awkward position. The last thing I want is to see baby shipped from foster home to foster home.
I'm not sure why a mother and baby placement isn't an option as so much has to be kept confidential the social workers really can't tell me a great deal.

shockers Sun 01-Nov-09 19:34:43

The mother and baby placements probably won't be considered if they think that there is a very strong possibilty that it won't work out as it will delay adoption further and older children are harder to place than babies.
I'm not sure you would be asked unless you expressed an interest. There are always people waiting to adopt babies.

CarGirl Sun 01-Nov-09 19:36:14

I think you need to ask the social workers what options your son and you have - is your son interested? Would you be prepared to have Mum & baby live you?

All stuff to think long and hard about tbh.

The Mum to be may have health concerns which could be why they think she won't cope as a single unsupported Mum. Or it could just be the crazy system we have in this world.

shockers Sun 01-Nov-09 19:37:38

That sounded cold... I didn't mean it to.
I hope you and she hit it off so that you can support one another.

bran Sun 01-Nov-09 19:39:17

The baby could be adopted against her birth parents' will. Many, if not most, children are adopted without the consent of their birth parents. A healthy baby is very unlikely to spend a life in care as there are so many families eager to adopt a child just like her.

Your son's gf will, if she wishes, be able to express a preference for the type of adoptive parents she would prefer for her child, eg specific religion. We were shortlisted for a little girl where the birth mother was keen that the adoptive parents would have the financial means and inclination to send the child to university. Obviously the social workers couldn't ensure that the child would go to university, but they were certainly looking for a family with the potential for that to happen. Perhaps your son's girlfriend might wish something for her child that she has felt is missing in her own life, siblings or a large extended family for instance.

Normally what happens, and what happened with both my DS and DD, is that the baby is placed with a foster family and then when the adoptive family is found there is a handover period of at least a week before the baby moves to the new family. It's not possible for a baby to be adopted at birth, I think legally the earliest is at about 12 or 14 weeks (I'm a bit hazy on the exact age). Generally it's unusual for a child to be placed before 6 months by the time all the legalities and family searching has been done. You could ask if social services in your area have a concurrent adoption scheme in place. This means that potential adoptors take the child at birth and act as foster parents. If the decision is made that the child will be adopted they then go on to adopt, the risk for the parents is that they might have to give up the child if SS decide that the child will be returned to the birth mum/birth family.

Your son and his gf will probably be offered an opportunity to meet the adoptive parents, usually before handover. It can be a great comfort to the birth family to know where the child is going. I met with my DD's grandparents after she was placed with us and while it was sad for them they were relieved that I clearly love DD and they felt that she will have a happy family life with us.

CarGirl Sun 01-Nov-09 19:40:57

Shockers I understand where you're coming from and it isn't cold. We get very sentimental over the whole issue whereas there are cold hard facts to consider - the baby's best interests.

It is very very very hard to be accepted as adoptive parents for a young baby.

From a practical stance, you should contact Adoption UK as they are the experts and can advise you on the process.

But, I know a family where the mother was known to social services. She wasn't coping for a whole variety of reasons, but the children were at risk. Her father and his wife, took the children, at first to give the mom some respite, with a view to trying to get her reunited with the children.

It didn't work, and the children were eventually adopted by the grandparents after they had a residence order in place for over 5 years. This is the very abridged version as there was considerable heart ache on all sides, and lots of court visits to the Family Court, CAFCASS reports and social services intervention.

Social Services will only take a child at birth if there are some really exceptional circumstances, as mothers and newborn babies should stay together if at all possible.

It seems to me that there are 2 separate issues. One of you being concerned as a grandparent wanting to maintain a relationship with the child and also wanting to support your son. You may want to seek legal advice about the process where the father, whose consent is needed for adoption, is a minor.

In an ideal world, the mother would get support in a family environment, and be able to fall back on a support network. But most importantly is the welfare of the baby.

It may not be a bad idea to discuss the situation with a family lawyer as there are several issues to consider. You may also wish to post a thread in the legal section of Mumsnet with the query: 'How do I Adopt My Minor Son's Baby?' Or whatever title you choose. There are lots of Family Lawyers who know... smile

Hope it goes well for you and your family.

OvaryActing Sun 01-Nov-09 19:41:20

Thanks all.
My son is very idealistic and thinks he is going to leave school and support her. His own dad has never been involved in his life and he says he wouldn't want hat for his child. When baby arrives I suspect he will feel differently despite his best intentions. He has plenty of issues of his own which make him an unsuitable parent.

I'd only want the baby if it was a choice between me and a life of foster care/care homes/being shifted from pillar to post. I don't want my grandchild to feel I don't want him or her, but truely feel adoption would be best all round, primarily for baby.

Having the baby and mum stay here would never work.

shockers Sun 01-Nov-09 19:45:01

Thanks cargirl smile

There are happy endings...we are one of them!

PixiNanny Sun 01-Nov-09 19:46:16

I know a girl who was around 13 when she had her son, they were foster children and she was allowed to keep him, might be worth finding out about if the girl isn't comfortable giving the child up?

NanaNina Sun 01-Nov-09 22:20:18

Overacting - I am an independent social worker having retired after 25+ years in fostering and adoption. You are not being given totally accurate advice on some posts. Shockers says that the baby cannot be adopted against the mother's wishes and could spend a lifetime in care. This is absolutely NOT the case. If the SSD have reason to believe (and can proove it in court) that the unborn baby will be at risk of significant harm if he/she remains in the care of her mother (or father) they will apply to the court for a Placement Order on the baby to allow the child to be placed for adoption. The child's mother (and father) can be legally represented and there will be many assessments and reports but at the end of it all the Judge will make the final decision on the baby's future. Shockers also says that the mother could still see the child if adopted and this is not necessarily the case. This is called an "open adoption" and there are some cases where there is ongoing contact but it is highly unlikely with a newborn. Usually open adoptions are when children are adopted who already know their birth parents and it is felt that some kind of ongoing contact is in the child's best interests. These decisions are made in the best interests of the child, NOT the mother or the father. However all adoptors will be asked to agree to send annual photographs of the child to the birth parents, or something similar.

Someone has mentioned residential assessments of mothers and babies and this is a possibility. The mother and baby are placed in a residential provision and monitored to see if the mother is in fact capable of caring for the baby. However the SSD will need to make a decision as to whether they think this is viable. It sounds as though they are concerned enough to apply to the court for an Order without going down that route.

If the Placement Order is made, the baby can be placed for adoption and as others have said, there are lists of already approved adoptors ready to take a young baby - demand far outstrips supply in this respect.

I think you can rest assured that if the baby is removed from the mother (and you say your son is not capable of caring for the child either, though he could be assessed if he so wished) he or she will most definitely be placed for adoption and will not spend a lifetime in foster homes etc.

Kewcumber Mon 02-Nov-09 13:20:58

Ovary - just to add that if you are interested, it isn;t unknown for birth grandparents to have some kind of contact with a child once adopted even if its letter box contact (ie photos and letters once a year) if you are interested.

It would be extremely unlikely that a young baby would stay in foster care for years unless there were extenuating circumstances. Programmesw like the concurrent planning that BRan mentioend were developed to help avoid childrne staying in foster care for years and becoming unadoptable when there is an identifiable problem early on.

From memory I think about 15% of children fostered under the concurrent planning scheme are returned to birth family and the rest adopted by their foster parents.

OvaryActing Mon 02-Nov-09 14:45:11

Thanks for your help. I wish I could just scoop the baby up when it is born and keep it forever. I feel so protective of it already and just want the best for him or her.
It's good to know that a life in foster care isn't as likely as I had anticipated, thank goodness.

shockers Mon 02-Nov-09 18:04:51

Sorry NanaNina but I do know of cases where that has happened. Two in fact.

bran Mon 02-Nov-09 18:34:08

The procedure has changed recently shockers. Between the time that we got DS, over 4 years ago, and this spring when we got DD there have been a few changes in the law and the way things are done. Now it's much quicker to get a placement order for a child, allowing them to be placed with an adoptive family.

NanaNina Mon 02-Nov-09 18:47:31

Shockers - assume you are talking about the issue of mother's withholding consent to adoption and whether consent can be dispensed with and the baby or child placed for adoption. In these cases, a judge has to decide whether the mother is reasonable in with-holding her consent and if he feels that this is the case, then he will not make a Placement Order and the child cannot be placed for adoption. If however he judges that the mother is unreasonable in withholding consent, then he can dispense with her consent and make the Placement Order. All decisions are of course made with the child's best interests at heart, and not the interests of the birth parents.Maybe I should have added that to my original post.

The point I was trying to make is that it is by no means the case that if a mother with-holds consent to adoption that the child will end up spending a lifetime in care, which is what I thought you were saying.

I think in the case of a newborn baby (as this thread is about)if the case was proven that the bay was suffering significant harm (or likely to suffer significant harm) in the care of the parents and the l.a. made application for a Placement Order, and the mother was with holding consent to adoption, any judge would not deem this to be reasonable and would dispense with consent. Judges are well aware that children have the right to stability and permanency and in my experience usually make very sensible decisions in the court process.

NanaNina Mon 02-Nov-09 18:51:24

Bran - I think you may be referring to the Public Law Outline which is legislation intended to speed up the process of decisions about the future of children who are the subject of care proceedings. The basic tenet of the with holding of consent and the need for the judge to make a decision as to whether consent is being unreasonably with held or not has not changed.

shockers Mon 02-Nov-09 19:51:44

It's good things have changed... it was overdue!

KristinaM Fri 06-Nov-09 16:56:43

yes, birth parenst can express opinions about what kind of adoptive family they would like for their child

eg religion, with or without other children already, living in the country etc

there are many MANY families waiting for a new baby and SS should be willing to accomodate these preferences as long as they are reasonable

hifi's example is a good one - its quite common for parents to want a family who will ensure that the child gets a good education. i know a couple who were matched with their baby because she was a teacher.

other birth parenst want a family with no bio kids, or with other children already, so they have siblings

she should also be able to meet the adoptive parenst, once they have been matched , and get photos or news of her child

audley Thu 12-Nov-09 12:07:36

Hi OvaryActing,
Just wanted to add my experience as a birth parent. I decided to give my child up for adoption while I was still pregnant. I was able to be very specific about the sort of family I wanted for my baby. I was given brief details of three couples that matched my "wish list" and I was able to choose the final couple. I wanted my baby to be placed with them immediately but this was not possible. She had to be born to see if there were any health issues or disabilities that would deem the match inappropriate. Her adoptive parents were not told about her until she was born. She was in foster care for 6 weeks before going to her new family. I was allowed as much contact as was practical while she was fostered. I have had letters and photos every 6 months since her adoption and started seeing her in person when she was 11 (4 years ago). I have since worked as a Children and Family social worker assessing birth parents and placing children for adoption. I have had the most positive adoption experience than anyone else I have known about. Even so giving my child up for adoption has been the most painfully heavy burden for me and my mother, so even if it may be the best choice, it is a hard route to take. Get as much support as you can and best of luck to you all.

Kewcumber Thu 12-Nov-09 15:09:52

thank you for posting audley, its always good to hear from a birth parent. I can;t imagine how difficult it is to make the decision to place your child for adoption and am grateful that I have never been faced with that decision myself.

What a benefit to your child that she has been able to maintain some contact - however painful it must be for you, it must be of benefit to her as you sound so nice!

I would give a great deal to be able to give DS any information about his birth paretns but sadly its not to be.

bedlambeast Sun 15-Nov-09 21:51:47

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