The Children and Families Act 2014 concerns itself, amongst other things, with adoption reform; but what are the changes concerning post-adoption contact with children?
Post-adoption contact has been, till now, legislated for by the Children Act 1989. It was a matter covered by Section 8 of that Act, with individuals being granted post-adoption contact through application for a Section 8 Order.
Part 1 of the Children and Families Act 2014, which concerns itself with Adoption and Contact, and specifically Section 9 which covers Contact: post adoption, has amended the Children Act with regard to this matter.
A new section 51A has been inserted into the Children Act, which provides for “the making of orders which deal with contact arrangements at the adoption order stage and subsequently” between an adopted child and the person making the application.
Those who may apply for such contact are limited and include “relatives of the child (by blood, marriage or adoption), any former guardian, any person who had parental responsibility for the child immediately before the adoption order, any person who was entitled to make an application under Section 26 for contact with a child placed or to be placed for adoption and any person whom the child has lived with for at least one year.”
In considering the application, the court must bear in mind the possible harm that might be caused to the child by the proposed application, the applicant’s connection to the child, and any representations that are made to them by the child, the person who has applied for the adoption order or the child’s adoptive parents.
On the reverse side of the coin, Section 51A is also the section to be used in applying for an order prohibiting post-adoption contact.