In the matter of A, B, C, D, E and F (Children) [2017] EWHC 35 (Fam) (England and Wales High Court, 17 January 2017)

Background: The court was asked to look at questions arising from applications for adoption of children living in England with their prospective adoptive parents, where a Scottish Sheriff had made a permanence order with authority to adopt. In each case, the permanence order included an order dispensing with parental consent. The court was asked to consider: do English courts need to obtain the consent of the natural parents before making an adoption order? Should the natural parents be joined as parties to or notified of the adoption proceedings in relation to the child?

Held: The court held that English courts do not need to obtain the consent of the natural parent(s), due to the effect of sections 47(6)(a) and 105(2) of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. Similarly, the natural parents are not entitled or required to be joined to the adoption proceedings. The only exception is if the parents retain exercisable rights of contact; they should, as a matter of discretion, be joined, but only to be heard on the issue of future contact.