How approval is given
The social worker for the adoptive applicants usually signs the placement approval form (SW 602 on the client record in CYRAS) and writes the court report for the interim adoption order application. If the applicants’ social worker is not available, a supervisor or another social worker may sign the approval.
We give approval for a specific tamaiti to be placed in a specific home – and there is no provision for general approvals.
When the parties want te tamaiti to be placed with the applicants as soon as possible following the signing of consents, the solicitor taking the consent will ensure it is conveyed to the applicants' solicitor as soon as possible. The applicants’ solicitor then confirms with us that the consent has been received – this can be scanned and emailed in the first instance.
We need to make sure that the solicitors involved are aware of the need to provide confirmation of the consent process to the social worker.
The social worker should send the prior approval on the day that it becomes operative, with a covering letter to the solicitor of the adoptive applicants.
If a couple, married or not, makes a joint application we can make the approval in the names of both applicants to acknowledge that te tamaiti will be in the care of both people.
When approval can be given
While there are no directions in the Adoption Act 1955 as to the timing of the social worker's approval, birthparents are provided with 10 full days (in practice 12 days, which includes the day te tamaiti is born, the 10 days that follow it, and then the next day) before they can consent to an adoption. As birthparents have the right to change their minds at any time before their written consent is given, we should only provide the social worker placement approval once the birthparents have signed their legal consents to the adoption.
If birthparents and adoptive applicants make arrangements, with or without the prior approval of a social worker, for te tamaiti to be placed in the adoptive home before the consents are signed, all parties must appreciate that the birthparents still have the right to change their minds.
Unless exceptional circumstances apply, we usually issue approval for placement after consent has been signed and also after it has been received by the applicants' solicitor.
If there are exceptional circumstances and we wish to give approval before the consent we should consult our supervisor and obtain legal advice. (Where the adoption is as a result of IVF surrogacy, refer to the in-vitro fertilisation surrogacy adoption guideline).
How long approval lasts
A social worker placement approval remains in force for 1 month from the date it is issued. When an application for an adoption order is made to the court before the month expires, the approval remains in force until an order is made or the application is abandoned or dismissed.
If a solicitor asks us to re-issue an approval because the original has been mislaid, we can produce another certificate dated as previously for the day the placement came into effect. It is not possible to give ‘prior’ approval after the placement has already been made.
If te tamaiti is not lawfully in the adoptive home we cannot issue an approval after they’ve been placed.
If we refuse to grant approval
If we refuse to issue a placement approval, the adoptive applicants may apply directly to the court for an interim adoption order. In the court report, clearly explain the reasons for the decision to refuse approval. The court may still grant an adoption order even though we have refused approval.
Placing te tamaiti in the applicants' home
If both parties agree on placing te tamaiti with the adoptive applicants on the day of consent, make sure the applicants’ solicitor has received the signed consent and then we can send the approval for placement to the applicants’ solicitor.
If caregivers have been caring for te tamaiti under a temporary care agreement they are usually happy to help the adoptive applicants become familiar with and learn about te tamaiti and their routines.