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Clause 6—(Arrangements Made By Adoption Societies)

Volume 466: debated on Friday 24 June 1949

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I beg to move, in page 3, line 24, at the end, to insert:

"(2) So much of subsection (2) of the said section six as prohibits the making of an application for an adoption order in respect of a child until the expiration of a period of three months from the date on which the child is delivered to the adopter pursuant to arrangements made by an adoption society shall cease to have effect.
(3) The period within which, under subsection (3) of the said section six, art adopter is required to apply for an adoption order or give notice to the adoption society of his intention not to apply for such an order shall be six months from the expiration of the period specified in subsection (2) of the said section six instead of three months from the expiration of that period."
This Amendment is designed to deal with two points in connection with the cases of children who are placed for adoption by registered adoption societies. Under the provisions of the 1939 Act it is laid down that where arrangements are made by a registered adoption society for the adoption of a child by an adopter resident in Great Britain no application to the court for an adoption order in respect of the child shall be made by the adopter until the expiration of the period of three months beginning with the date upon which the child is delivered into the care and possession of the adopter. On the other hand, under Clause 5 (1) of this Bill it is provided that an adoption order shall not be made—there is a distinction between applying for an order and the making of an order—unless the child has been continuously in the care and possession of the applicant for at least three consecutive months immediately preceding the date of the order.

It is considered that there is no sufficient reason for maintaining the difference between the two enactments, and that it is right that the adopters may make their application for an order before they have had the child for three months, if they so desire, whether or not they obtain the child through an adoption society. This Amendment will not enable them to obtain an order before the end of the three months, but the initial steps can be taken so that the order may be granted as soon as possible after the end of the probationary period.

I take the view that the Amendment will be particularly helpful in the cases of older children where there is no need for delay before being satisfied with their mental and physical health. The proposed subsection (3), on the other hand, will help in the cases of the younger children, as it is proposed to lengthen from three to six months the period after the probationary three months within which an adopter who has received a child from a society must apply to the court for an order or return the child to the society. It appears to me that this Amendment goes some way to meeting the views expressed by the hon. Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings) in our discussions in Committee, when he had in mind an extension of the period from the three months I proposed to the six months, and I feel that the Amendment will commend itself to the House.

Amendment agreed to.