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Support for birth families

Advice and support for relatives of children who are being or have been adopted.

We can provide advice and support for birth relatives who live in Derbyshire and where:

  • we are recommending adoption for a child
  • the birth relative is requesting adoption for their child
  • there is a Letterbox exchange with an adopted child
  • the child was adopted some time ago and is now an adult

Support if your child is being adopted

If we, as the local authority, are considering placing your child for adoption you may not be happy about the decision.

However, it's important for you to stay involved so that we know your views and we can make sure we have all the right information about your family to help your child.

As the birth parent of a child being placed for adoption you are entitled to support, advice and information about adoption and related issues.

We have a birth family support team who can explain the adoption process, ensure your views are recorded and support you at key times in the process.

If your child is to be placed for adoption, as a parent you may also ask us for support with:

  • the court process
  • a one off meeting with adoptive parents
  • recording important family information for your child and adoptive parents
  • Letterbox contact arrangements 

Making the decision for your child to be adopted

We understand how difficult it is for a parent to ask for a child to be adopted. There may be many reasons for this.

Some birth parents decide that, because of their circumstances, it's best if their child is adopted so they can receive the care that they need.

You can find out more about placing your child for adoption.

If you would like to speak to someone, in confidence, about having your child adopted please tel: 01629 532396. This will usually lead to a visit by an adoption social worker and a children's team social worker to explain the next steps.

If you are thinking of adoption for your child you will need to talk to a social worker about the decision.

There may be alternatives for you to think about such as your child being cared for within your wider family or support to help you to look after your child at home.

If you do decide to go ahead with adoption for your child you will receive all the information you need about the process as well as support to enable you to be involved in the arrangements for your child's future.

This could involve meeting with the future potential adoptive parents and planning for any future contact between you and your child. Contact is usually via an exchange of letters with the adoptive parents.

If you'd like to speak to someone, in confidence, about having your child adopted please tel: 01629 532396.

This will usually lead to a visit by an adoption social worker and a children's team social worker to explain the next steps. This will take place at a location suitable for you.

Contested adoption

If you are not happy about your child being adopted, you should contact a solicitor who specialises in child care cases.

Legal Aid may be available if you need it and the Citizens' Advice Bureau can help you find a solicitor.

You can also contact the Family Rights Group which will provide you with support and advice.

Adoption planning process

When a child is looked after by the local authority, a plan must be made for their future.

Adoption is one of a range of options that will be looked at - other options could include placement with other family members or a return to the birth parents.

A child can only be placed for adoption in the UK with the agreement of the child's birth parents or a court decision and an appropriate court order.

The quality adviser discussion (QAD)

By law, any plan for a child to be placed for adoption has to be decided by the adoption agency decision maker on the basis of professional advice. In Derbyshire we have a quality adviser discussion (QAD) that reports directly to the agency decision maker.

The QAD is there to make recommendations about whether or not a child should be placed for adoption and whether there is anything that needs to be done before that plan can be followed.

Birth parents do not attend this meeting but it is important that your views about the proposed plan for adoption and any contact arrangements after placement for adoption are known.

As a birth parent you can be supported by the birth family support team worker in giving your views and opinions. Your views can be passed to the QAD via your child’s social worker, a member of the birth family support team, or by writing to:

The QAD Administrator
Derbyshire County Council County Adoption Services
County Hall

The professional advisors’ meeting will make a recommendation to the adoption agency decision maker on whether a child should be adopted.

The agency's final decision will usually be made within seven working days of the QAD.

Parents will be told of this decision within two working days and will receive confirmation of the decision in writing within five working days.

Court proceedings

If we believe that adoption is the right plan for your child we will ask the court to make a care order and agree to placement for adoption. You will be notified of any court hearings and the opportunity to be involved in the court case.

If the court does not agree with this plan for your child to be placed for adoption, then the court may decide on a different plan.

Sometimes if a birth parent has been able to make long-term, positive changes in their lifestyle and can demonstrate that their ability to look after a child has improved, the court may decide to let a child return to the birth family.


It's now common for children who have been adopted to have some kind of contact arrangement with birth families or significant people from their past.

Contact with your birth child after adoption will depend on a range of circumstances,but would normally be through the Letterbox Scheme.

The Letterbox Scheme

The Letterbox Scheme is the exchange of information between the birth family and the adoptive family, usually once a year by letters..

Birth families and adoptive families do not have access to each others' address or personal details and letters are sent to Derbyshire's Letterbox Exchange service to be forwarded on. All correspondence is checked before it is passed on to make sure it's safe and appropriate.

If letter contact is agreed for a child you adopt, or for your birth child who has been adopted, you will be told by your social worker about the details of the scheme and the kind of information you can pass on.

For more information, please read the Letterbox Scheme leaflet attached to this page.

Direct contact

For some children direct contact may be part of the contact arrangements. This could be with a brother or sister or with a member of the extended birth family such as a grandparent. This is only possible if it is considered to be in the best interests of the child.

Contact arrangements need to be flexible to meet the changing needs of the child as they grow and agreements will be reviewed.

Support for birth relatives seeking contact with adopted adults

If your child was adopted some years ago, is now an adult and you are thinking of trying to make contact, our adoption support service can give you advice and guidance. We will not however normally offer assistance with tracing or making contact with the adopted adult (intermediary services) but we can provide information of other agencies which may be able to and how much this is likely to cost

You can find out more by phoning Call Derbyshire tel: 01629 533190.

In addition, Derbyshire has a contact register for both birth relatives and adopted adults, where Derbyshire arranged the adoption, to register their views on contact. If an adopted adult and a birth relative both register their details and want to make contact with each other we can pass on their details.

You can ask to register your details on the Derbyshire contact register by contacting Call Derbyshire on tel: 01629 533190 or by sending a letter to:

Adoption Support Team
Derbyshire County Council
County Hall

If your child was placed for adoption by a different adoption agency or local authority, you can register your details on the nationwide Adoption Contact Register