The Adoption and Children Act 2002 was amended under section 9 of the Children and Families Act 2014 by the insertion of sections 51A and 51B. This amendment provides the court with specific power to make orders for post-adoption contact, when making an adoption order or at any time afterwards.
An application for an order under section 51A, either to permit or prohibit contact with a named person, may be made by a person who has applied for the adoption order or in whose favour the adoption order is or has been made, the child, or any person who has obtained the court’s leave to make the application.
People who may be named in an order under this section are; any person who (but for the child’s adoption) would be related to the child by blood (including half-blood), marriage or civil partnership; any former guardian of the child; any person who had parental responsibility for the child immediately before the making of the adoption order; any person who was entitled to make an application for an order under section 26 in respect of the child (contact with children placed or to be placed for adoption) and any person with whom the child has lived for a period of at least one year.
Whilst the power conferred by these provisions reflects a potential shift from the court’s historical approach of favouring a complete break with the child’s biological family post-adoption, children’s welfare will remain of paramount consideration in the court’s response to applications under section 51 and the full impact of this amendment is yet to be seen.