(Family Division; Eleanor King J; 24 October 2008)
A child under 6 weeks of age was treated as an exception to the general provisions for placement under Adoption and Children Act 2002, ss 18, 19 and 20. A child could be placed for adoption when still less than 6 weeks old, but only if subject to a written agreement. There could be no consent to the making of an adoption order when the child was under 6 weeks of age. Consent to the placement of a child under 6 weeks of age could not be relied upon as a basis for making an adoption order, and if consent to adoption was not confirmed the court could make an adoption order only if it was satisfied that consent should be dispensed with. Good practice anticipated a two-stage process whereby a mother who agreed to relinquish a baby who was less than 6 weeks old initially signed a written consent in the form recommended in the Statutory Guidance to the Act, allowing the agency to place the child with prospective adopters. Once the baby was 6 weeks old the mother was then asked to sign the s 19 consent in the prescribed form, satisfying the requirements of s 47(4)(b)(i) and allowing the adoption order to be made without the need for future litigation. Both good practice and common sense suggested that s 19 consents should only be sought after the child was 6 weeks old.