The futility of opposing adoption orders

Parents are going to stop trying to break the cycle if there is no chance of of opposing adoptions or having contact with an adopted child.

This is a post from a parent who talks about the adoption of her children and her attempts to either oppose the adoption or get a post adoption contact order. She asks the important question – what is the point of a law existing when parents never seem able to succeed? Even if parents are granted leave to oppose an adoption order on the basis of a change of circumstances, all seem to fall at the the second stage of the test which asks what is in the child’s best interests.

I can think of only one case since the Adoption and Children Act 2002 where the court refused to make an adoption order and the child went to live with a paternal aunt – but even this case was based on the presumption of placement in a birth family which has been rejected by subsequent authorities. I do not agree with the poster that the court never grants leave to oppose – I have successfully applied for leave. However, I am not aware of a single case where a birth parent succeeded on the second limb of the test and successfully opposed the making of an adoption order. I would be grateful to know if there are any out there!

With regard to post adoption contact I first discussed this in 2014 and the need for shift in position; nothing seems to have changed. 


I am a 37 year old mum. I have 8 delightful children. 4 girls, 4 boys.

The girls are D 17, S 16, L 11 and G 10.

The boys are R 15,  J 14, E 7 and P 4.

My mum was in care. I was in care. The local authority tried to take my eldest at birth. We kept her at home.

I walked out on my marriage to A in December 2002. I was pregnant with R. I stayed with a friend (SG) Gave birth to R and fell pregnant with J. I left (way too late) in March 2006 due to it being a violent relationship.

I then met a great man (M) and had L and G. We stated together until February 2010. I ended the relationship to restart the relationship with my ex husband. (A) We had my 7th child E a year later.

A year (2012) after he walked out with our 3 eldest children (D,L and R) and failed to return them. My eldest returned the same night. My 4th child J went to stay with my (abusive) ex (SG) for 3 months and failed to return him. Then ex (M) took our daughters and social services insisted he returned them.

I got into a relationship with an old friend (GM) and had baby P in 2014 and my eldest moved back to her father.

My children had been subject to numerous child protection plans and at this point only the eldest 3 were subject to plan. We were in court for child arrangement orders. My eldest 3 lived with A. Youngest 4 stayed with me.

A few weeks later A and his uncle hurt R and my 3 returned home.

Suddenly my partner (SG) started drinking. He didn’t want my eldest 3 at home and threatened to take our child (P) and tell social services I couldn’t cope. The children moved to paternal grand mother. The eldest returned a few months later and my partner threatened to take baby P if I let her stay. My daughter moved in with a friend.

Then S and R returned.

R went into care in March 2015.

L went into care in October 2015.

SG was being abusive. I kicked him out. Returned hours later to find out he had broken in and was refusing to leave. He said if I made him leave he would break into the house and take baby P from his cot. He had ultimate control. He wouldn’t engage with the local authority. Blamed me when they wanted him to work with them saying I wanted it not them.

then late Jan 2016 he was violent. I called the police. He was arrested. Then I failed my children AGAIN.

I made an additional statement. His bail was dropped and he came to the house to visit our child. The next day the local authority started care proceedings.

SG said he wanted to take me to the doctors to get me help because “I was mental”. If I didn’t let him come home then the children would go into care and it would be my fault.

An ICO was granted for D (stayed with father) L and R. I agreed L and G could live with M and they went that weekend on a supervision order

E and P were put on a supervision order to at home with me.

then D was removed from her father.

twice more the local authority requested ICO and removal of E and P. Twice more the judge refused. The last time she said if the psychological report was similar to the social report then she would agree adoption. If not then the LA should close the case.

On the final day of proceedings E and P were made subject to full care orders and placement orders and removed the same night.

I tried to revoke in August but the local authority placed them the same day. On advice from CAFCASS the judge did not grant leave to revoke. However the judge said she wanted to see me back before December 2017 to oppose the adoption.

The paperwork arrived in July and we went to court in August. I was granted legal aid in the changes I have made. The LA were doing a new assessment.

Now the adoption hearing is upon us with a final decision next week.

the LA and guardian believe I have not made enough of the RIGHT changes. They believe I have a man visiting or living with me. They want adoption.

The LA were given 28 weeks to place E for adoption or he would go into long term foster care. The LA extended this deadline on their own back WITHOUT having it RATIFIED by a judge.

I met my barrister who told me opposing is a 2 stage test. Is there changes? Yes there is.

With that in mind would the judge grant leave to oppose. My barrister said NO. the point is a lot of parents make changes. However this is never enough to “open the door” to grant leave. To grant leave the judge has to believe that the parent has a solid change of opposing the order. They have to keep in mind the welfare of the children. Their welfare is paramount.

On this basis parents always fail. Judges do NOT give leave to oppose.

So I have to question this.

Why is it written into law that parents can oppose if the Judge refuses permission EVERY TIME.

It either needs to be taken out of law as a null point or judges need to start granting leave to oppose.

As it stands parents can show significant change and still not be granted leave.

Either uphold the law and grant parents leave or remove it. This law is dangled in front of parents as a possibility and then snatched away by the court. Same as contact with an adopted child. The law states it can happen then refuses parents who apply for it.

Parents are going to stop trying to break the cycle if there is no chance of of opposing adoptions or having contact with an adopted child.

6 thoughts on “The futility of opposing adoption orders

  1. Angelo Granda

    A Parent’s View,
    There is no point in any law,legal principle,guideline or in any court order and that applies to protocols and substantive processes in the court arena UNLESS ones lawyers complain and the judge enforces correctness.
    This is where our family court system fails and why the faceless LA managers stick up two fingers at the law and our children’s rights.
    To the writer of the post ,the procedures you describe are also brought into play when parents apply to have children returned from foster care after improving their circumstances.The LA simply refuses to consider it or invite professional mediation in accord with frameworks.They then challenge one to contest it in court.
    Once one does so, in the family court they write and say what they like without checks.
    Lots of children are placed for adoption but in reality,the LA exerts no effort to place them and with many of them,there is no chance of it.They prefer the children in the care system,I think.
    Unfortunately, many say the Children’s Legal Panel solicitors are a laughing stock and the court proceedings little better than a 15-minute farce on the entertainment channel.

    Please note,I absolve barristers of being part of the tragedy;they come to proceedings later on and I am not sure they are on the CLP.

  2. John Harley

    I was refused leave to oppose the adoption of my 5year old daughter , this was at the central family court, i want to appeal his decision and am representing myself i am the father, I cannot remember where the judge said i would have to go to lodge my appeal, would be grateful for some guidance in this as i only have ten days left to do so thank you. John

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Hopefully there is some information here you will find useful

    2. S

      I’m going through the same thing on monday I have made changes but they are still going for placement order at central london family court I thought I could appeal they said I’m not allowed I’m trying to oppose but reading all these comments I dont think I will have the chance. It’s like these people just want to take our children.

  3. Deanne Cole

    After reading that long story I’m really sorry to hear about everything that you have gone through I’ve gone through something similar but with one child I was in the domestic violence relationship he had hold of me social services segregated me away from my child and place my child with my family and left me on my own with him where things got significantly worse since then I set him up with the police after he got that bad on drugs that he went on to Mog an old lady so the police came and arrested him and he got sent to jail for 8 years since then I was able to piece my life back together 3 years later I’ve been granted leave of the special guardianship that my sister holds to fight for my child back and I’ve just had my new parenting assessment last week and they are very happy with everything I’ve done if anyone has any advice and what to expect next and how long it could take that would be greatly appreciated as the paperwork States the last court date will be the 1st of April and the courts have also acknowledged that I have made substantial changes

  4. sarah

    i made significant changes in my revoke case in 2019 6 months after the original case concluded have proof in another psychological assessment my judge said no to reunification based on lack of time, i now have a circuit judge for this adoption hearing who has said if she accepts my application next month for leave to oppose the order she will order a 3rd psychological assessment which i’m hoping for i didn’t have mental health issues in the last one, i even had support from the foster carer which the La didn’t like but that’s the relationship we built i’m also half way through a law degree which i don’t think they liked either but i started it before having my daughter so tough.

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