Role of the Guardian in Adoption Proceedings

Guardian Ad Litem Role in Adoption Proceedings (under the Adoption (NI) Order 1987)

Information for Parents, Carers and Professionals

 

WHO IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM?

A Guardian ad Litem is an independent officer of the Court who is experienced in working with children and families.

WHY IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM APPOINTED?

A Guardian ad Litem is appointed by the Court under the Adoption (NI) Order 1987. The main duty of the Guardian ad Litem is to safeguard the interests of the child who is being considered for adoption.

The granting of an Adoption Order is a lifelong decision that involves the transfer of parental responsibility from a parent(s) to another person or persons. For this reason, the Guardian ad Litem is asked by the Court to independently consider the adoption application.

A Guardian ad Litem will remain involved until the Court makes a final decision.

WHEN IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM APPOINTED?

When the Court receives an application to adopt a child a Guardian ad Litem is appointed. The application form is known as the originating summons.

WHAT DOES A GUARDIAN AD LITEM DO?

A Guardian ad Litem will

  • meet with the birth parents where possible and talk to them about any agreement they have made to their child’s adoption.
  • look into all the written information that has been sent to the Court, including the originating summons
  • meet with the people who have applied to adopt the child (known as the applicants) and will talk to them about their reasons for wanting to adopt.
  • meet with the child to talk about adoption and what the child would like to see happen ~ depending on the age and level of understanding of the child.
  • read any information held by the H&SS Trust that is relevant to the application.
  • sometimes attend meetings regarding the child
  • meet with anyone else who may be relevant.
  • write a report for the Court recommending what is best for the child
  • make a recommendation as to whether the child should/not attend Court for the final hearing
  • when necessary write to the Court to advise of specific matters that the Court needs to know about.

CONFIDENTIALITY

A report by the Guardian ad Litem is confidential and belongs to the Court. It cannot be shared with anyone else involved unless the Court agrees.