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6.19 Post Adoption Contact

PURPOSE/AIM

Post Adoption contact should be considered in all permanency planning. It is an important way of promoting a child's identity and research indicates that it can increase the stability of adoptive placements.

Any Post Adoption contact should always be in the best interests of the child and this will be the paramount consideration in all negotiations.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Contact After Adoption (Research in Practice)


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Letterbox Contact
  3. The Written Agreement
  4. Direct Post Adoption Contact


1. Introduction

There are two forms of Post Adoption Contact (referred to throughout procedures as PAC) - Direct and Indirect.

Direct = Face to face e.g. parent and child, grandparents, siblings.

Indirect = Letters, telephone calls, photographs and videos.

These procedures are in two parts and focus primarily on indirect letterbox contact and direct face to face contact.

Parties should be given a leaflet (in the addendum file) prior to negotiating any such agreement.

The Letterbox service DOES NOT ACCEPT MONEY, CHEQUES OR GIFTS.


2. Letterbox Contact

The Letterbox contact procedure aims to provide an accountable, organised system to ensure that information is either safety stored or forwarded promptly and accurately to all parties involved in the adoption process who are included in a written agreement.

The process for planning and negotiating PAC agreements begins as soon as any decisions are reached that adoption is the Permanence Plan for the child. This continues throughout the care planning and implementation process and is a significant aspect of the matching decision.

However, these procedures apply to finalising of the written contact agreement and subsequent operation of that agreement.


3. The Written Agreement

The PAC agreement is separate to the Adoption Placement Plan.

The Social Worker will identify who needs to be involved in the agreement. This may include other birth relatives e.g. grandparents. According to the needs of the child it may also be appropriate to include another significant person from the child's life (e.g. teacher, family friend).

In principle the agreement should be negotiated with all parties. It is likely that this will involve face to face meetings with respective parties but not necessarily all at once.

As neither adopters nor other parties can be held legally accountable in respect of the agreement, it is essential that adequate preparation and support is provided to all parties to ensure a flexible sustainable agreement can be reached.

The pro forma at AD-13i should be used as a guide, although each agreement will be unique to the child's circumstances. Lead responsibility for ensuring its completion lies with the child's social worker.

A separate agreement should be completed for siblings in separate placements. However, where siblings are placed together only one agreement should be required.

The pro forma is designed to ensure that confidentiality is maintained.

Each party to contact has a separate agreement between themselves and the adopters. If several people will be having contact e.g. birth mother, paternal grandparents, siblings, then a separate agreement should be written for each in order to maintain confidentiality and allow for differing needs. However, overall the combined plan must be manageable, sustainable and in the child's best interests.

The Adoption Worker is responsible for making up the Post Adoption Contact File. It will contain a Front sheet (Appendix AD-13ii), copy of all Post Adoption Contact Agreement pro formas - 'Record of Exchanges attempted/made' - AD-13iii.

The copies are all placed on the Post Adoption contact file.

Originals should also be placed on the child's adoption file.

Legal Status

The Social Worker should inform all parties of the status of the agreement, i.e. whether it is a voluntary agreement by which parties are not legally bound - or whether the agreement is part of a Contact order made under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 when the Placement Order was made or when the Adoption Order was made.

Exchanges

All parties should send letters to exchange to the Adoption Team. This envelope should contain a second envelope for the recipient. This should be clearly marked:

  • "POST ADOPTION LETTERBOX EXCHANGE" AND THE CHILD'S Birth Name and Date of Birth should also be on the envelope.

This inner envelope will be forwarded un-opened to the Letter Box Administrator.

Letterbox exchanges will not routinely be opened, nor will copies be kept on the PAC file.

However, a record will be kept of exchanges attempted/made.

Confirmation of Addresses/Identity

1. On receipt of a letter to exchange the recipient will be sent a letter (proforma AD-13 iv) which they will be required to complete and sign and return before the letter is forwarded.
2. The signatures will be compared to the original PAC Agreement as an identity check.
  • Where there is doubt in respect of signatures the recipient will be asked to visit the office for a further ID check. 
3. The letter will then be forwarded or the recipient may collect it from the office. If the item is being collected the recipient will need I D and to sign form (AD-13iv) for signature comparison on collection.

Contents and Storage of Letters

  1. All parties should be aware that the letters are for the adopted child and therefore should never be destroyed. Parties to the agreement should be advised to keep copies of any letter which they send for exchange for their own and/or child's use in the future.
  2. If the contents are distressing or upsetting the Adoption Team can be contacted and we will store the information on the child's contact file or, in exceptional circumstances, could act as mediators between the parties.

Timescales

Parties to the agreement are responsible for adhering to the agreed exchange dates/times.

On receipt of letters to exchange the Adoption Team write seeking address confirmation within seven days.

When this is returned we will forward the exchange within seven days.

Should letters arrive outside of the agreed timescales it will not be forwarded until seven days before the agreed exchange point.

If items are sent that are not part of the agreement they will be returned with a letter reminding people that unsolicited letters, cards, etc. will be destroyed in the future.

Reviews

The contact agreement is made at the time that the child is being placed for adoption. Future changes in individual circumstances may suggest that an alternative should be made to the agreement. Requests for a review of the agreement should be made to the Adoption Team. Changes will only be made if this is in the child's best interests and agreed by all parties.

Change of Address

It is the responsibility of parties to the agreement to notify the Adoption Team of any change of address or other significant details.

Parties to the agreement

The agreement should specify any exceptional circumstances in which information should be exchanged outside the agreed timescale. This may include for example the death of the child, details of hereditary illness or death of a birth parent.


4. Direct Post Adoption Contact

This will be subject to a written agreement and placed on the child's Post Adoption contact file as with indirect contact.

The agreement should cover in detail the rationale for contact and roles and responsibilities for the agency and other parties to the agreement, and any arrangements in relation to potential financial costs which have been agreed.

All such agreements will be unique, but as with indirect contact the child's social worker will have lead responsibility.

End