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Step by Step guide to applying for independent review

The IRM aims to complete each case within four 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 you application, we identify the panel most suitable to consider your case. We do this by taking into account whether you wish to adopt a child from overseas and other cases needing to be heard. 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. If the date is not convenient, you can ask for a later date. If you would prefer to travel to another venue please discuss this with us, but remember no travel costs or expenses can be met.

Step 2

IRM requests all information from the adoption agency.

Step 3

IRM requests your consent to disclose all papers including medical information. This excludes minutes of the original panel to avoid influencing the Review Panel. However, the Review Panel will be informed of the reasons for the original panel and decision maker’s recommendation not to approve.

Step 4

You will be given a date by which to submit any extra information. This is in advance of all papers are 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 adviser and a medical adviser who will also be available to the Review Panel at the panel meeting. The medical adviser may also seek additional information to assist them with their report. All the information will then be considered by the review panel.

You will receive a copy of the papers presented to the original panel. Copies of any additional information provided by you or the agency will be sent to the other party before the panel meeting, 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, if you have one. 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. The meeting will be quite informal. 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.
Learn more about the Review Panel

Your adoption agency will be invited to send a representative to the Review Panel meeting. It will of course be for them to decide who should attend, but we expect them to send someone who will be able to answer the review panel's questions.

Step 6

Review Panel meeting
The review panel will have a written report on your case from its Legal Adviser, and there will be someone (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 Secretary, the Professional Adviser and the Legal Adviser will not take part in the Review Panel discussions or in the making of the review panel's recommendation.

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

You will be invited to state your case and give your reasons for disagreeing with the qualifying determination. Members of the review panel will be able to ask you questions.

They may need to see the provider’s representatives separately if they have questions relating to third party confidential information.
You will all then be asked to wait in the waiting room/s while the panel discusses the case. The Review Panel may wish to call you all back to clarify any point with either party and when they are sure they have all the information they will advise you that you may go. You may 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 a copy of the review panel's recommendation and reasons and a set of minutes, although this will not contain a record of any third party confidential information that was discussed. A copy of the panel’s recommendation and reasons and a full set of minutes will be sent to your adoption agency to assist them in their decision making.
This will be posted to you within 12 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.

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