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Adoption and Children Act 2002

Section 18: Placement for adoption by agencies

73.Section 18(1) provides that an adoption agency (except in the case of a child who is less than 6 weeks old) may only place a child for adoption with prospective adopters where the parent of the child has consented to the placement or, in the case of a local authority, where it has obtained a placement order. Subsection (2) provides that an adoption agency may not place a child for adoption with prospective adopters unless the agency is satisfied that the child ought to be placed for adoption.  Where a child is placed or authorised to be placed for adoption by a local authority, the child is a looked after child for the purposes of the Children Act 1989 (subsection (3)).

74.An adoption agency may place a child who is less than 6 weeks old (“baby placement”) for adoption with the voluntary agreement of the parent or guardian.  Regulations made under section 9 will set out the process for obtaining this agreement.  Subsection (3) applies to such a child.  When the child reaches the age of 6 weeks and adoption remains the plan, the agency should obtain the consent of the parent or a placement order.

75.Under subsection (5) placement has been given an extended meaning under the Act covering both placing a child with prospective adopters and, where the child is already placed with people for other purposes (for example with foster carers), leaving the child with them as approved prospective adopters.  It will be open to local authority foster parents to seek formal approval from the local authority as prospective adopters in respect of a child being fostered by them.  If they are approved as prospective adopters and the agency leave the child with them as prospective adopters, the placement will be an agency placement and there will be no need for them to give formal notice under section 44. If the agency does not approve them as prospective adopters, local authority foster carers can independently give notice of intention to apply to adopt the child as a non-agency case, providing the condition in section 42(4) is met.

76.Under subsection (6) references in Chapter 3 to an agency being, or not being, authorised to place a child for adoption are to the agency being or not being authorised to do so under section 19 or a placement order.  This means that where a child who is less than 6 weeks old is placed for adoption section 25, for example, will not apply.

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