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Guidance on Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007

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ADOPTION REGULATIONS GUIDANCE

Introduction

This guidance is written to accompany the new sets of regulations introduced following the passing of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007. This Act replaces the Adoption (Scotland) Act 1978 and the amendments made to it by the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. It follows and reflects the work carried out by the Adoption Policy Review Group ( APRG) which operated in two phases between 2001 and 2005. The report of the second phase of this group ' Adoption: better choices for our children' is largely reflected in the subsequent legislation. This recognised first of all that there remained a place for adoption and that while some modernisation was required, a lot of the basic system should remain. Alongside this, it was acknowledged that the current system is not meeting the needs of the whole range of children in Scotland who cannot live with their birth families but need a stable and secure home. The complexity of the combination of the family histories of these children and their individual needs and experiences indicates both the desirability of an adoption system that can resolve such complex situations in an open, fair and child-centred manner and also the need for alternative approaches to planning permanence for children where adoption may not be the best solution.

One of the major social shifts in planning adoption services, that started before the 1978 Act and has accelerated since, is the reduction in babies relinquished for adoption. This forms only a small part of the work but needs to be carried out with full understanding of the lifelong issues for adopted people, adopters and birth parents (sometimes referred to as the 'adoption triangle'). The change in legislation enables the continuation of this more 'traditional' form of adoption. In the midst of the more complex permanence planning that occupies so much of the attention of agencies, adoption services need to ensure that they are prepared and equipped to respond to such requests sensitively and effectively.

Inevitably, much of the attention in this guidance will be directed to the more complex - and frequently contentious - aspects of planning permanence, including adoption, for the range of children who are already looked after by local authorities and are most likely to be in temporary foster care. The majority of these children will also be subject to supervision through the Children's Hearing. The process of planning for permanence and the consideration of the option of adoption should be rooted in the clarity of planning for the child from the outset.

The adoption regulations comprise of seven pieces of legislation - three of which are substantive and the other four are brief and specific. The four

1. Period to Prepare an Adoption Allowances Scheme (Scotland) Order 2009

2. The Applications to the Court of Session to Annul Convention Adoptions or Overseas Adoptions (Scotland) Regulation 2009

3. Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 (Supervision Requirement Reports in Applications for Permanence Orders) Regulation 2009

4. Adoption (Disclosure of Information and Medical Information about Natural Parents) (Scotland) Regulations 2009

are referred to as appropriate within the guidance to the three main sets of regulations which are

1. Adoption Agencies (Scotland) Regulations 2009

2. Adoption Support Services and Allowances (Scotland) Regulations 2009

3. Adoptions with a Foreign Element (Scotland) Regulations 2009 - These will be subject to separate guidance.