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Independent Review Mechanism (Adoption and Fostering)

Has your adoption agency decided you are not suitable to adopt a child or intends to withdraw its earlier approval?

If you are a prospective adopter who has recently received a qualifying determinationwhich you don’t agree with, you have two options:
  • you can either apply to the IRM for a review of the adoption agency's qualifying determination or,
  • you can make representations to your adoption agency.

However, you can not do both. The cost of having your case reviewed is met by your agency.

What the IRM can do for you

The Adoption IRM is a review process conducted by a Review Panel which is independent of adoption agencies.

If you choose to use the IRM the review panel will:

  • review your suitability as a prospective adopter(s) to adopt a child and
  • make a fresh recommendation to your agency on your suitability to adopt a child.

Things the IRM doesn’t do

  • It does not make a decision about your case: this is made by your agency – because the IRM is not a higher appeals authority.
  • It does not consider whether adoption should be the plan for a child.
  • It does not consider whether a child should be placed with a particular prospective adopter.
  • It does not handle complaints against the adoption agency. Complaints should be dealt with through the agency's complaints procedure.

How the Review Panel works

The Review Panel considers the following information to make its recommendation:

  • all information presented to the original adoption panel,
  • any relevant information received by the adoption agency after the papers had been sent to the adoption panel; and
  • your reasons for requesting a review.

If the Review Panel needs further information, this will be requested from your adoption agency before the panel meeting, unless it would be more appropriate to ask you directly.

You will be invited to attend the meeting and the Review Panel will meet with yourself and the adoption agency to ask for clarification of information contained in the reports. The panel will also obtain legal advice and medical advice, should it wish to do so.

Results and outcomes

The Review Panel makes its recommendation and will provide a copy of both its recommendation and reasons to the adoption agency and to you.

The adoption agency must take this recommendation into account as well as the recommendation of the original adoption panel when making its final decision on your suitability to adopt a child.


A "qualifying determination" is a determination made by an adoption agency that it considers a prospective adopter is not suitable to adopt a child, and does not propose to approve him/her as suitable to adopt a child. A qualifying determination may be given in respect of an application to adopt a child from the UK or from outside the British Islands. It may be issued after either a brief or full prospective adopter's report has been prepared and considered by the adoption panel and agency, or where the agency decides following a review of their approval to change an earlier decision to approve the prospective adopter and that too has been considered by the adoption panel.

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