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Adoption records disclosure: Step by step guide

We aim to complete each case within three months of receiving the application. Your adoption agency will meet the cost of the review, although you will need to cover your own travel costs and expenses.

Step 1

When we receive your application, we identify the panel membership most suitable to consider your case. We try to keep your travelling to a reasonable distance. We will advise you of the date, time and location of the review panel meeting giving you at least one month’s notice.

Step 2

IRM requests your consent to disclose all papers including, where relevant, medical information.

Step 3

Once signed consent has been received, the IRM requests all information from the adoption agency.

Step 4

You will be given a date by which to submit any extra information. This will be in advance of all papers being sent to panel members.

The IRM Contract Manager may also request additional information from either you or the agency. All the paperwork is reviewed by a legal and medical advisors.  The medical adviser may also seek additional information to assist them with their report.

You will receive a full copy of the papers except any confidential third party information which cannot be shared with you.

Step 5

Review Panel meeting preparation
When you have been invited to attend the meeting, you can go with your partner.  Alternatively, you may be accompanied by a friend. The role of the friend is to provide you with moral support; he or she cannot speak on your behalf or act as an advocate. If you have a physical, sensory or learning impairment, or English is not your first language, you may bring an interpreter or helper with you in addition to a friend. Please note that we cannot pay any expenses to you or to any friend or interpreter for attending the meeting.

Your adoption agency will be invited to send up to two representatives to the Review Panel meeting.

Step 6

Review Panel meeting
There will be separate waiting rooms for you and the agency representatives if you wish to use them.

There will be a professional adviser who will be able to provide advice on legislation, guidance and research to ensure that all relevant issues are considered and the correct proceedings followed. A Panel Secretary will be present to take minutes of the meeting.

The panel members will decide on the questions they want to ask you and the agency representatives. You will all be invited in together and given the opportunity to make your representations and answer questions.

The agency’s representatives may be seen separately if there are questions relating to 3rd party confidential information.

You will need to be available for up to two hours.

The panel will conclude their deliberations and reach a recommendation.

Step 7

After the Review Panel meeting
We will send you and your adoption agency a copy of the review panel’s recommendation. This will be posted to you within 10 working days of the hearing date. Your adoption agency will then write to you informing you of its final decision.

Step 8

Next steps
If you are still not happy with the adoption agency’s final decision, there is no right of appeal against it. If you remain dissatisfied, you should seek your own advice from, for example, a solicitor or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, as to what action you may take.