Role of the Guardian in Freeing for Adoption Proceedings
Guardian Ad Litem Role in Freeing for Adoption Proceedings (under the Adoption (NI) Order 1987)
Information for 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 Course under the Adoption (NI) Order 1987. The main duty of the Guardian ad Litem is to protect the interests of the child who is being considered for Freeing for Adoption.
Having a child freed for adoption does not mean he or she is adopted. It does mean that a child is free to be adopted without parental agreement in an application made by prospective adopters. The granting of an Order to free a child for adoption involves the transfer of parental responsibility from a parent(s) to an adoption agency. Because of the seriousness of this, the Guardian ad Litem is asked by the Court to independently look into the freeing application.
WHEN IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM APPOINTED?
When the Court receives an application to free a child for adoption 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 their views on the application to free their child for adoption.
- look into all the written information that has been sent to the court including the originating summons.
- meet with the child’s carers.
- meet with the child to talk about the Freeing application and what he/she would like to see happen.
- appoint a solicitor for the child if the Court feels this is necessary.
- 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.
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.