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3.3.1 Carer adoption

Last Modified: 21-Aug-2019 Review Date: 01-Oct-2017

Purpose

To provide child protection workers with an overview of the practice requirements and procedures when a foster carer wishes to adopt a child who is in the CEO's care.

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities.

Practice Requirements
  • If a Department foster carer is considering adopting a child in the CEO’s care, the district child protection worker must contact Fostering and Adoption Services for information, assistance and procedural guidance.
  • A case planning meeting must be held, and include an Fostering and Adoption Services child protection worker.
  • Adoption is not part of Aboriginal culture, and therefore the adoption of a child in the CEO's care who is Aboriginal must occur only in circumstances where there is no other appropriate alternative for that child (s.3(2) Adoption Act 1994).
  • Where the child is Aboriginal, and where there is no appropriate alternative to adoption, the placement of the child for adoption must be considered in the following order of priority:
  1. Placed with an Aboriginal person in the child’s community in accordance with local customary practice.
  2. Placed with an Aboriginal person.
  3. Placed with a person who is not an Aboriginal but who is sensitive to the child's needs and capable of promoting ongoing connection with his or her culture, and where possible, family.
  • If the child is Aboriginal, a Department officer who is Aboriginal must be involved at all relevant times to assist in the adoption process.
Process Maps

Not applicable

Procedures

  • Overview
  • A foster carer wishes to adopt a child in the CEO's care
  • Considerations for a carer adoption
  • Consent to the adoption
  • Revocation of consent
  • Review of the case plan
  • Information and counselling
  • Financial considerations
  • Assessment and report to the FCWA
  • The Adoption Order is granted
  • Overview

    Adoption is a permanent legal arrangement, finalised by an Adoption Order from the Family Court of Western Australia (FCWA), which cuts a child’s legal ties with their birth family.  Full parental rights and responsibilities are given to the adoptive family. This means the birth parents no longer have legal rights over the child.  The child becomes a full member of the adoptive family. This includes assuming the same rights and privileges as if born to them, including the right of inheritance.

    Foster carers can contact Fostering and Adoption Services on 1800 182 178 (free call in WA) for information on adoption or visit our website at www.cpfs.wa.gov.au.  Fostering and Adoption Services will assist the foster carer with the adoption process.

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    A foster carer wishes to adopt a child in the CEO's care

    Department foster carers who would like to adopt a child from the CEO’s care should discuss their wishes with the district child protection worker in the first instance, as there may be other permanency planning options that are more suitable than adoption. If the foster carer contacts Fostering and Adoption Services directly, they must advise the carer to contact their district child protection worker first to discuss their wishes.

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    Considerations for a carer adoption

    A carer adoption of a child in the CEO’s care can be considered if:

    • the foster carer has had the daily care of the child for at least two years 
    • the foster carer has been the consistent carer of the child through an approved Departmental care arrangement
    • We support the adoption
    • the child’s views and wishes have been taken into consideration (where age permits), and
    • adoption is in the child’s best interests.

    Note: "Carer" - in relation to a child, means a person with whom the child lives and who, either alone or jointly with another person, has the daily care of the child under s.4(1) Adoption Act 1994).

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    Consent to the adoption

    A carer adoption requires the consent of the CEO and the child’s birth parents, and the consent of the child where he or she is 12 years of age or above.

    If a child’s birth parents do not consent to the adoption, we may consider applying to dispense with consent under s.24 of the Adoption Act 1994.  

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    Revocation of consent

    The birth parents have 28 days after signing the consent to adopt to revoke their consent. The revocation is effective once it is lodged with the Department.  Refer to Fostering and Adoption Services for guidance.

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    Review of the case plan

    The case plan must be reviewed as part of the process when adoption is being considered.  Permanency planning recommendations are part of case planning and must be documented in the case plan.  Refer to Chapter 3.4: Permanency planning for further information.

    The case is reviewed in collaboration with the child, the parents, carers and significant others involved with the case, taking into consideration their views and wishes.  Child protection workers should use the relevant section of Form 515 Signs of Safety Assessment and Case Planning Form for child in care to record the decisions.  Form 515 is under related resources in Chapter 3.4: Permanency planning.  

    District child protection workers should consult with a team leader who responsible for endorsing the case plan in Assist. 

    Once it is established through case planning discussions that adoption is the recommended course, the child’s care plan may need to be reviewed or modified. The care planning process should identify the needs of the child, and outline the steps and measures that need to be taken in order to meet those needs. The case plan should inform the decisions in the child’s care plan. The Adoptions Services child protection worker should be consulted and included in any care plan meetings. The care plan must be approved by the team leader.

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    Information and counselling

    Fostering and Adoption Services will provide the birth parents with oral and written information and offer counselling before they consent to the adoption in accordance with Schedule 1 cl.1 of the Adoption Act 1994. Parents can decide whether they want to receive counselling from us and/or from a list of independent counsellors. Counselling can also be provided by a private agency of the parent’s choice. Information must be provided to the birth parents even if counselling is declined.

    If the child is 12 years of age or older, they must also receive information and be offered counselling.

    Foster carers can also request information from Fostering and Adoption Services about adopting a child in care and receive counselling in relation to the adoption.

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    Financial considerations

    Legal fees vary depending on the complexity of the case. If we endorse an application for the carer adoption, assistance can be requested through case support costs.

    A request to pay a subsidy may be made to ensure that financial difficulties do not prevent an otherwise desirable adoption action.  Payment of the subsidy is determined on the financial circumstances of the prospective adoptive parents and the special needs of the child.

    Subsidised adoptions must be approved by the relevant Executive Director or Regional Executive Director.

    Exceptional circumstances may require a time-limited subsidy or grant, and this must be approved by the relevant Executive Director or Regional Executive Director.

    Our ongoing involvement with the foster carers and the child is then limited to the review of financial arrangements.

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    Assessment and report to the FCWA

    A foster carer cannot file an application for an Adoption Order for a child in care unless, at least 60 days before the application is filed, the carer has notified the CEO in writing of their intention to apply.

    Fostering and Adoption Services will undertake an assessment and prepare a report (s.61 Adoption Act 1994) to the FCWA, with the support of the district child protection worker.

    The report is for the FCWA’s use in proceedings for the Adoption Order and covers a number of aspects such as relationships within the family.  If a Child’s Representative is appointed, the representative will provide a report to the Court with their recommendations.

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    The Adoption Order is granted

    Once an Adoption Order is granted, guardianship is transferred from the CEO to the adoptive parents.  The Department should make application to the Children’s Court to formally revoke the protection order (time-limited) or protection order (until 18). The Adoption Order states the name by which the child will be known and transfers the legal parental rights to the adoptive parents.

    Fostering and Adoption Services will advise the district child protection worker once the Adoption Order is granted. The district child protection worker must update Assist with the date that the order was granted.

    A new Birth Certificate is issued upon application to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. It will include details of the adoptive parents.  The Registrar keeps information about the relinquishing birth parents so it can be accessed in the future.

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