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New Children and Families Act 2014

(105 Posts)
64x32x24 Wed 02-Apr-14 22:39:14

the family law provisions of above, coming into force this month apparently. Anyone know anything about this?
Apparently it may have consequences for adoption.

suesspiciousminds.com/2014/03/16/applying-for-contact-after-a-child-is-adopted/

(Sorry to repost a link from a thread which was deleted earlier today. I do believe it may be relevant.)

It seems there is a new provision for birth parents to apply for contact (direct or any other kind) at any time AFTER the adoption order.

I personally am open to the idea of contact and would be happy to explore it even years down the line. I think there should be something in place to help re-instate contact if it has broken down previously, or if at the time of the adoption order, the birth parents' circumstances were not right for contact, but have now changed. In general, I think there should be more support for contact (direct and letterbox), on all sides. I'm not saying that contact is good in every case, but just referring to those cases where it may well be a positive thing all round.

However I worry that courts may force contact even if the adoptive parents do not agree; and that adoptive families may feel less secure/permanent, if at any time they could be invited to court to determine if contact should be granted.

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 02-Apr-14 22:44:59

We're just having a look at it now but maybe we need someone like Spero to give us a steer on this?

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 02-Apr-14 23:02:31

Looks very fucking scary from where I'm sitting. Why didn't our SW tell us about this? Fuck me angry

DaffodilDandy Wed 02-Apr-14 23:08:22

Name, I'm with you. That looks absolutely terrifying. I had (naively?) thought that following the adoption order we could go off on our merry way just like any other family, it seems that's not the case?

Is this law UK wide? Why has there been no mention of this until now? It's coming into force in 20 days, ffs!

I understand that situations can change for birth parents etc, but I don't see how having the threat of something like this hanging over you for years on end is beneficial to either the child or the adoptive parents?

This is really worrying. Needless to say I will be calling our SW first thing tomorrow.

DaffodilDandy Wed 02-Apr-14 23:14:11

I've just caught up with the other posts on the chat board. I really can't get my head around this all.... I can't remember who said that this was potentially a game changer for them, but that's certainly the level of impact this is having on us.

We'll be the legal parents of a child, but can be forced to have contact with the birth parents (or anyone who's cared for them for a year) at any point until the child is 18? So, our legal status as parents is second rate to a biological parent? WTAF?

This whole thing is just unbelievable.

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 02-Apr-14 23:14:28

They can force overnight stays. Can they force unsupervised contact?

Maryz Wed 02-Apr-14 23:14:54

This bit:

(3) The following people may be named in an order under this section—

(a) any person who (but for the child’s adoption) would be related to the child by blood (including half-blood), marriage or civilpartnership;

(b) any former guardian of the child;

(c) any person who had parental responsibility for the child immediately before the making of the adoption order;

(d) any person who was entitled to make an application for an order under section 26 in respect of the child (contact with children placed or to be placed for adoption) by virtue of subsection (3)(c), (d) or (e) of that section;

(e) any person with whom the child has lived for a period of at least one year. [This has a cut-off of not applying if it was more than 5 years ago, but seems to me that it would potentially cover relatives who cared for the child, foster carers, and possibly siblings]

That means grandparents or any other blood relatives as well as the parents, does it? What about foster parents as former guardians? Though I see they are covered under (e) anyway.

Fucking hell.

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 02-Apr-14 23:17:01

Or anyone related to them by blood or marriage or civil partnership. And no limit on number of applications so they could make vexatious applications every six months forever. sad

It was me who said it was a gamechanger.

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 02-Apr-14 23:19:13

Why? Why would they do this? Are they so fucking overrun with brilliant potential adopters that they wanted to thin the herd a bit?

It's retrospective too.

DaffodilDandy Wed 02-Apr-14 23:20:33

Fucking hell. Overnight stays. That bit, I missed. I don't understand how it can be allowed? All the existing adoption orders that have been granted are now going to be subject to this? Is that even legal? All those adopters adopted on the basis that none of this could happen.

I feel sick just thinking about this. How are we ever supposed to feel like a family if the threat of this is constantly hanging over us?

MyFeetAreCold Wed 02-Apr-14 23:23:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 02-Apr-14 23:23:17

Yes that's how we feel Daffodil sad Overnight stays? So I can control who one of my children stays with but not the other. How the fuck does that work?

DaffodilDandy Wed 02-Apr-14 23:23:42

Exactly. I thought there was a massive drive at the moment to recruit more adopters? This is surely going to send them all running to the hills and quite rightly too.

I totally understand that birth parents/carers/whoever have rights etc, but this seems to be entirely at the expense of our rights as adopters to a family life. As if adopting wasn't hard enough as it is, they've decided to throw this in too. They're basically relegating us to the position of long term carers, or at least that's how it's making me feel.

64x32x24 Wed 02-Apr-14 23:23:50

namechanges, it's the first I heard about it today too. I agree it does sound scary!

I can imagine that if this starts actually happening, then some people may indeed be put off adopting.

However from that link, and the comments section too, it seems like it would take a lot for a court to even grant leave to apply. And if I understand correctly, you could argue that even just having to discuss possible contact at court would be disruptive for the child/the adoptive placement, and hence sufficient ground would be given for the court NOT to grant leave to apply. So, very few would even pass the first hurdle. The chance that you'd be forced at some point in the future to enable contact, is probably very slim.
However it could turn out to be a real nuisance, if you find yourself having to appear at court year after year to argue the same point... instead of getting on with your life.

I can imagine a situation, where contact really would be a good thing, but for some reasons or other, the message is not reaching the adopters. For instance if social services have badly let down the birth parents and refuse to acknowledge that circumstances have changed. Then at least the birth parents could resort to court.
But I do think in this instance actually the birth parents should have a different way to address this.

Please don't panic over this namechanges, I'm sure someone wise will be along soon to explain it all.

HappySunflower Wed 02-Apr-14 23:24:19

I'm so shocked about this.
Mind you, its not clear as to whether or not applicants to the court will be entitled to legal aid. I suspect not, in which case I doubt that many will actively pursue an application.
But even giving them the right to do so is horrifying.

namechangesforthehardstuff Wed 02-Apr-14 23:27:10

They don't produce legislation on the basis that it won't be needed so presumably they are envisaging that someone somewhere will get the final stage i.e. court ordered contact. That is a level of risk which we may not be comfortable with.

64x32x24 Wed 02-Apr-14 23:27:24

oops lots of cross-posting, sorry.

DaffodilDandy Wed 02-Apr-14 23:30:50

Yeah, that's my concern, they wouldn't be bringing in the legislation if they weren't intending to use it. All it will take is for one case to be approved, and it'll snow ball from there.

I wish this was working hours. I really need to speak to our SW.

Maryz Wed 02-Apr-14 23:34:51

I am going to post what I put on the other thread:

"I think it (contact) needs to be consensual, though.

I got a request for dd to meet her birth parents when she was about 13. She nearly had a fit, didn't (and still doesn't) want to know. And in fact I think had she not been asked then, she might be more amenable now. But would a judge accept that from a child? Would a judge assume that I was influencing her?

I also have a friend who has adopted who gets an annual request. For different reasons (her dd has SN, and struggles with "strangers") she has said no. But she has been told that when her dd reaches 18 she will be told that her bm wanted to meet her and the request was turned down. I suspect the shit will really hit the fan.

Similarly, I would have struggled to cope with such a request for ds1 when he was a young teenager. He was struggling badly and has MH issues. Being split between two families definitely wouldn't have helped him then (though it might now).

But in none of these cases was there clear-cut proof of prospective harm. It would have been difficult to put a case together giving clear reasons for refusal. And adoptive parents shouldn't have to justify their decisions in this way. Because ultimately who is to decide "the best interests of the child" if not the people who know them best at that time?

I don't think it's feasible."

So I've given three cases where there would be no physical danger to the child, where the birth parents (or grandparents in one case) could likely afford money and legal expertise to get a case to court, but where (in my opinion) there would be no advantage to the child of having contact at that time .

But there is no way adoptive parents could stand up and prove it in court. Nor, in my opinion, should they have to.

Maryz Wed 02-Apr-14 23:36:52

This, to me, is as barmy as saying that grandparents or any blood relative, or any relevant party, can go to court to get contact with any child.

It simply doesn't happen.

Even the most loving and involved grandparents can't take parents to court to demand contact with their grandchildren. Why should it be any different in adoptive families?

Even suggesting this makes adoptive parents second class parents, giving adoptive families fewer rights than non-adoptive families, which is against the entire ethos of the adoption system.

64x32x24 Wed 02-Apr-14 23:39:37

I'm sorry to have caused such upset!

My guess is that it is in light of the recent high court recognition that permanently removing a child from their birth parents, severing all legal ties, is about the worst thing you can do to someone, short of the death penalty. And that therefore there need to be LOTS of checks and balances. And perhaps maybe something to address those few cases where wrong decisions were made?
So, if a child was removed from birth parents, placed for adoption, legally adopted, then new evidence appears that the initial removal was based on wrong information, e.g. the birth parents never did harm the child, the child has since been found to have a condition which caused the injuries which led to them being taken into care. You can't undo the adoption; that would be wrong. But shouldn't everything be done to redress the injustice that has been done to both child and birth parent? Of course. But what if the adoptive parents refuse to enter into any sort of conversation?
I hope that this is what they have in mind.

Devora Wed 02-Apr-14 23:44:23

As I said on the other thread, I think letterbox contact needs to be greatly improved. Dedicated, skilful social workers with adequate resources to do the job properly should be able to handle this. For example, should birth parents improve their situation to the extent that direct contact is a real possibility, or if for whatever reason someone has been left out of contact arrangements that should be included, it should be for social workers to raise this with the adoptive parents and discuss with them how this might be compatible with the best interests of the child.

What are the situations in which the courts are better placed to do this than a social worker? Where the adoptive parents are refusing to countenance contact, perhaps? Even if they are being reasonable, is it still a price worth paying to undermine their parental responsibility in this way. Only, I would argue, if birth parents could be subject to the same.

One last thing is the security of the adoptive family. I was horrified when I discovered just how much of a security threat my dd's bps are - AFTER the social workers had told them our names, identifying details, and set up a face to face visit with the bm. I have always been positive about contact but I do feel a continuing sense of threat and this proposal would certainly exacerbate that.

64x32x24 Wed 02-Apr-14 23:46:31

And even then. I imagine myself, BC and AC, years down the line, it turns out that my child was removed from their birth parents unjustly. Now suddenly everyone expects me to kind of share my status as AC's mummy with someone else. I would keep all parental rights but one of my children would spend every other weekend with their other mum.

It would be incredibly hard.

I can only hope that we would be able to cope.

(But then. If DP and I were to separate, DP had a new partner, and DS would spend every other weekend with his new step mum... Reality for many people.)

Devora Wed 02-Apr-14 23:47:13

OP, I agree with you I expect that is the sort of situation they have in mind. And normally I get itchy with slippery slope arguments. I suppose I just worry that if the climate gets increasingly pro 'open' adoption then adoptive parents may feel that the deal they signed up for is no longer valid.

I still think there's better ways of handling this.

Maryz Wed 02-Apr-14 23:47:47

But you can't right a wrong by doing another wrong.

You can't undo the adoption - that's an accepted fact, simply because undoing it does more harm to the child (whatever about the adoptive parents).

Undoing the strength of the adoptive relationship will also harm the child. Saying to adoptive parents "you shouldn't really have got him/her, we'd like to give them back, but we can't legally, so we are going to make sure we undo it a little bit by taking away some of your rights as a parent (to make decisions for your child)." Is that really ok? Will that really help.

As it is, when a child reaches 18 they have a right to contact their birth parents, they can be told everything at that time.

Does anyone really think that telling a 10 to 16 year old, for example "the courts made a mistake, you really shouldn't have been adopted, your birth parents are great and you can stay with them a night a year" is a fair thing to do? Won't that cause conflict and guilt and resentment in the child?

It's madness.

Open adoption would have been disastrous for both my children, for two very different reasons.

Forced open adoption would have been even more of a disaster.

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