Birth parent rights

Adoption is a way of providing a new permanent family for a child not able to be brought up by the birth family. As a local authority, Devon Adoption, acts as an adoption agency and is legally allowed to arrange adoptions. This is done by the social worker gaining an understanding of the child’s needs and seeking the adoptive family best able to meet them.

Your rights as birth parents

If your child is adopted, you will no longer have any legal rights and responsibilities. It may not be possible for you to see each other but there will usually be the opportunity for you to have ‘indirect contact’ via the local authority in the form of news about your child from the adoptive family, and an opportunity for you to pass on information about what is happening in your life.

As the child’s birth parent if you have any worries, doubts or questions your child’s social worker will try to help you as much as possible with these. You should also talk to your solicitor if you have one.

We can help you. Read more on the  birth family web pages.


Knowing about you is important

Before an adoption can be arranged the adoption agency is required by law to ask for a lot of information about you and your child. This information is personal and will be treated as confidential; however there are some circumstances where the Adoption Agency may need to pass particular information on to other people. Wherever possible, such circumstances will be explained to you.

All this information is needed for us to have the fullest possible knowledge and understanding of your child and family of birth. This helps those making the decisions about the future. You can therefore help your child by agreeing to provide as much information as you can about yourself and your family and by understanding our need to ask your doctor about your family’s health.


Choosing a family for your child

The law requires that adoption agencies make very thorough enquiries about families wishing to adopt. All prospective adopters undergo lengthy training and assessment by an adoption agency and must be approved by an adoption panel before they can be considered for adoption.

They are asked all sorts of information about themselves and their family background.

From having knowledge of their own family experiences and their skills and interests, the adoption agency gets a picture of their family life and gains an understanding of what kind of upbringing they would offer a child. When your child’s social worker looks for a family, one will be chosen because it is thought they are best able to meet the child’s needs. Your child’s long term welfare is the first consideration. A placement will not be made until it is believed that the right family is available.


Adoption by foster carers

Perhaps foster carers have looked after your child for a long time and they would like to adopt. In this case, the same thorough enquiries have to be made as are made with any other adopters. It is still very important to be sure that it would be best for your child to be adopted by that family before adoption can be recommended and an adoption application made to the court. Read more on our foster to adopt webpage.


Are you willing for your child to be adopted?

It may be that your child is the subject of a Care Order and the court agreed upon an adoption plan. Alternatively, it may be that you have asked this agency to arrange your child’s adoption and an adoptive family have been sought at your request. In either circumstance, if you are willing for your child to be adopted, the court will ask a social worker independent of this agency to visit you and make sure that you understand what adoption is all about. An independent social worker who works for the court will need to be sure that you are willing to agree to your child’s adoption quite freely and without any conditions. If this social worker is satisfied that you have thought about it carefully and know what you are doing, you will be asked to sign a formal document giving your agreement, this form will be given to the court.


Are you unhappy at the prospect of your child being adopted?

If so, it is important for you to seek legal advice from a solicitor experienced in child care matters as soon as possible.

Children can be placed for adoption if or when the court has made a Placement Order or parents are agreeing to an adoption.

Also see our panel , birth families support factsheet and many other factsheets here.


The local authority has a responsibility to the birth parents of children placed for adoption and we will provide support and counselling. Read more on the birth family web pages.

Adopters and birth family members can use the Adoption Letter Box service to exchange photographs and letters. In some cases, direct contact continues with birth family members or others of significance to the child after an Adoption Order has been granted. This will always be considered from the perspective of the child and in his or her best interests.


What happens after adoption?

A decision will be made about the type of contact you are to have with your child once the placement for adoption has been made. There are two types of contact in adoption, direct and indirect.

Indirect contact

This is contact by letter and photographs via the Adoption Services Team. Letterbox contact on an annual basis between adopters and birth relatives is encouraged in most cases.

Direct contact

This is face to face contact between the birth family and the child. Direct contact will only be agreed if this is felt to be in the best interests of the child.

Read more on the birth family web pages.