Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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6.3.11 Disruption of Adoptive Placements


This chapter applies to disruptions of adoptive placements, which occur prior to an Adoption Order having been made. Where a disruption takes place after an Adoption Order has been made, a Disruption Meeting may be held as part of the adoption support provided to the child and adoptive family in which case the same principles as set out in this chapter may be followed.

The Berkshire Adoption Advisory Service chairs Disruption Meetings for the six Berkshire unitary local authorities. For more information see Berkshire Adoption Advisory Service Procedure.


In January 2017 the first paragraph of this chapter was revised and updated.

  1. Where an agency adoptive placement breaks down prior to the granting of an Adoption Order, a Disruption Meeting must be held. A disruption meeting in adoptive placements is intended as a positive opportunity to explore the child's history and needs, the adopter's journey towards adoption and the way in which these two strands have come together.

    The meeting attempts to analyse the events and issues leading up to the placement, to understand what happened in the placement and what led to its ending. The main purpose is to help meet the child's needs both now and in the future. Such meetings also assist practice learning, and may also prove supportive to the family recovering from the disruption experience.

    If staff become aware of an adopted child where a disruption is threatened or has occurred, the Post Adoption Social Worker must be notified as soon as possible.

    The Disruption Meeting will be held no sooner than 28 days after and no later than 42 days after the placement breaking down, and will follow a set agenda. The timing of the disruption meeting should take into account the feelings and circumstances of those involved. If held too soon after the disruption, feelings are too raw and people defensive. If held too long after the disruption, events can be rationalised and people may be less open to deeper emotional issues.

    The Adoption Service will arrange for the meeting to be chaired independently by an experienced practitioner or manager from outside the adoption service not involved in the line management of the case responsible social worker;

  2. The Disruption Meeting will be convened by the child's social worker, who will invite the prospective adoptive parents, their social worker, the current carers, the child’s Independent Reviewing Officer and any other relevant people. The child’s social worker will also ensure that the child’s views and feelings are given to the meeting in the most appropriate way;
  3. The child’s social worker and the prospective adopters’ social worker should attend the Adoption Panel to present a report from the Disruption Meeting. When this is considered, the Panel should also receive copies of the Panel minutes recommending the adoption plan for the child, the prospective adopters’ approval and the placement with the particular prospective adopters, to enable learning points to be shared.

    The child’s social worker should contact the Panel Administrator to book a date for the Adoption Panel to consider the matter and the relevant documents should be sent to the Panel Administrator 10 working days before the Panel meeting;

  4. Where an Adoption Placement Plan is terminated before the adoptive placement takes place (i.e. during introductions), the adoption social worker for an in-house approved family, or the child’s social worker in the case of an inter agency placement, will prepare a report for the Adoption Panel. The report must outline the reasons for the breakdown;
  5. In all such cases, the Adoption Panel may consider whether the plan for the child should be reviewed and/or whether the prospective adopters’ approval should be reconsidered, and these issues may need to be further investigated and reports be presented to a subsequent meeting.