Freeing orders set to go under new act

Freeing orders are for the chop in the new Adoption and Children
Act, but they are likely to remain in use for a while yet. In Re S
(Freeing for Adoption) [2002] EWCA Civ 798, [2002] 2 FLR 681, the
court of appeal considered the effect of a freeing order on an
adoption application made in a foreign jurisdiction.

Section 18 of the Adoption Act 1976
provides that the court shall make a freeing order, where on an
application by an adoption agency the court is satisfied in the
case of each parent or guardian of the child that he freely and
with full understanding of what is involved agrees generally and
unconditionally to the making of an adoption order, or his
agreement to the making of an adoption order should be dispensed

The question is what is an adoption order for the purposes of
the section. Section 72(1) of the 1976 act defines it as an order
under section 12. This would not include an adoption order made in
a foreign jurisdiction. Section 55, which deals with the adoption
of children abroad, refers to the freeing sections of the act.
Accordingly, ‘the context otherwise requires’ (as set
out at the beginning of section 72), and the court held that the
meaning of an adoption order can include a foreign order. Any other
interpretation would be contrary to the welfare of the child.

Richard White

White and Sherwin Solicitors

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