Working with Birth Relatives - Practice Guidance

Page providing some practical guidance for working with birth families and supporting them around what having a child adopted means.

The role of the Fostering and Adoption Team and Looked After Children's Team

To work with the birth family member(s) to enable them to have a full understanding of the adoption process, its legal implications and their rights.

To provide information with regards to independent counselling services and other forms of support.

To discuss the plan for the child with the birth family member(s) and help them to understand the plan and the likely timescales.

To provide information about local support groups and services.

To be supportive in helping the birth family member(s) to provide information to the child's social worker remove to the child's social worker that the child is likely to benefit from having in later life.  This includes, where relevant, information about the child's birth and early life, the birth family's views about adoption and contact and up to date information about themselves.

To inform the birth family members of their rights to make representation and complaints.

To maintain the confidentiality of any discussions with the birth family member(s) except where to do so could compromise the safety and welfare of a child or threaten the safety of anyone else.  (This approach will be explained to the birth family member(s) from the outset).

To be open with the birth family member(s) about any recording that will be kept on the file.  A copy of all recording that relates to visits/meetings can be given on request to the appropriate birth family member.  In the event of a disagreement regarding these recordings, the views of the individual will be noted on the file.

The Work with Birth Family Members

The birth family member will be contacted either verbally, by telephone or by letter to arrange an appointment, to be arranged by the social worker.  A suitable time and venue will be agreed.  The birth family member may bring another person as a support if he/she wishes to do so.

The child's social worker will arrange the appointment and send a letter, however if English is not the birth family member's first language and/or he/she has special needs other steps will be taken as appropriate to confirm the arrangement.

Each Birth Family Member will be given a written record of any discussions that have taken place with him/her at their request.

Non-attendance or non-engagement with the service will result in the offer of a second appointment and the referrer will be notified in writing.  Where the service is not taken up, the birth family member will be notified in writing that the service remains open to him/her and will be provided with information on how he/she can access the service in the future.

If, at the time of the referral, issues of safety are identified then the information may be sent by post and counselling offered by telephone. This will always be discussed with a Team Manager before the decision is finalised.

The File

A record of the meeting will be recorded and placed on the child's LAC file and the child's adoption file. The adoption file will be stored at the Fostering and Adoption Team whilst active and inactive files will be stored at the States of Guernsey  Archives Service as described in a previous section.