Adoption Case Records
See Access to Birth Records and Adoption Case Records Procedure.
Also see The Adoption Agency Regulations 2005.
In June 2022 this chapter was refreshed where required.
1. Opening an Adoption Case Record
An Adoption Case Record for a child should be opened as soon as there is an adoption plan for the child i.e. once adoption has been identified as the permanence plan for the child at their Looked After Review or, where a child has been relinquished for adoption, as soon as the parent's request for adoption has been made. The Adoption Case Record is separate from the child's existing electronic social care case record/file.
The child's electronic social care case record should indicate that a separate Adoption Case Record exists but must not include information in relation to the new identity or address of the child or any information whereby the child's pre and post-adoption identity could be linked. Such information should only be contained on the Adoption Case Record. This principle applies to information kept in whatever form - electronic, hard copy or microfilm.
Where the plan relates to a group of siblings, there must be a separate Adoption Case Record for each child.
1.2 Applicants to Adopt
An Adoption Case Record should also be opened for every prospective adopter as soon as the formal registration of interest is received. In the case of a couple, a joint case record can be set up for them both. This also applies to foster carers wishing to be considered as adopters.
The child's Adoption Case Record should contain the following information and documents:
- The child's original birth certificate and birth details (time, weight, type of delivery etc.);
- Description and details (including family tree/genogram) of the birth family and household set out in a Core Assessment or other relevant document;
- Photographs, certificates, other significant personal mementos and Life Story Book;
- Completed Neo-natal and obstetric reports;
- The Child's Permanence Report;
- The Prospective Adopter's Report and Adoption Placement Report once the child has been formally matched;
- The Adoption Support Plan;
- The child's profile, Matching Meeting minutes and any other documents prepared and presented for the matching decision;
- Record of preparation work with child about adoption, including recording of direct work. This should include the date of every contact, whether the child was seen, the areas of discussion, the child's views, an analysis and evaluation of the content of the report. This will provide a record to inform current actions and a record for the young person in later years;
- Details of siblings, together with any assessments and decisions to place brothers and sisters separately, including minutes of relevant meetings;
- All relevant minutes and the Agency Decision Maker's decisions in relation to the child's adoption plan and placement, including records of discussions held by the Agency Decision Maker. Copies of all notifications of agency decisions will be sent to birth parents and adopters;
- Looked After Review minutes and the child's Care Plan from the point when adoption was identified as the plan for permanence;
- Assessments, correspondence and signed agreements relating to post-adoption contact;
- Any other key correspondence to and from members of the child's birth family;
- Minutes from Placement Planning Meetings;
- Itemised list and copies of information supplied to child;
- Itemised list and copies of information supplied to adopters;
- Later Life letter/information from the birth parents to the child;
- Later Life letter from the social worker outlining the circumstances of the adoption plan;
- The Adoption Placement Plan and any amendments;
- Reports of visits to the child post-placement and records of any Adoption Review meetings. As previously stated, this should provide sufficient detail to inform current actions but also enable the young person in future years to make sense of their history;
- Court reports and other documents prepared for Placement Order applications (if applicable) and the adoption application;
- Copies of Care Orders (including Interim Care Orders);
- Copy of any Parental Consent to Adoptive Placement, if applicable and Parental Consent to the adoption and/or a copy of the Placement Order and Care Order;
- Copy of Adoption Order;
- Any Veto - absolute or qualified - registered by the adopted person;
- Minutes of any Disruption Meetings.
It is essential that all case records reflect the supervisory process and comprehensive management overview.
2.2 Applicants to Adopt
All adoptive applicants are provided via Adopt London South.
3. Security, Retention and Sharing of Records
Adoption Case Records must be stored in secure conditions, for example all hard copy document/records should always be kept in locked cabinets. Electronic case records should be password protected.
In cases where an Adoption Order is made, children's Adoption Case Records will be retained for a minimum of 100 years after the Adoption Order is made. The Team Manager will first ensure that the Adoption Case Record is complete, and especially contains the 'Later Life' letters and Post-Adoption Contact Agreements. The 'Later Life' letter, Life Story Work and evidence that this has been shared with the adoptive parents and child if appropriate, within 10 working days following the Celebration Hearing.
Where an Adoption Order is not made, an adoption agency must keep the child's case record and the prospective adopter's case record for such period as it considers appropriate.
Where an Adoption Order is not made and the agency decides to close the child's adoption case record, it should transfer the information from this record to the looked after case record, in which case, see Looked After Children. If the child has never been looked after, the agency should destroy the records when no further action is necessary. An example of when this may be appropriate is if the possibility of adoption of a baby was discussed before the child's birth, but the baby remained with the birth parents.
Where an Adoption Order is not made, prospective adopters can be asked if they want their case records retained – in case they may wish to reapply to the agency or another adoption agency to adopt again - and to give their consent to the storage of the case record for whatever period is agreed, after which the record will be securely destroyed.
Whenever it is necessary to send any part of an Adoption Case Record by post, either within or outside the Council, the information should be placed in a sealed plain envelope and marked 'PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL'. When the external post is necessary, then arrangements should be made for copies of relevant documents to be sent by recorded delivery.
An adoption agency may disclose an adoption case record to another adoption agency as it thinks fit for purposes related to its functions or the receiving agency's functions as an adoption agency (s.2 The Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018, amending 8(2) of the Disclosure of Adoption Information (Post-Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005).