Can anyone explain the legal difference between open adoption and being granted a Special Guardianship order. As grandmother to the child in question (who I currently have contact with) what steps can I take to ensure that contact continues in either option.
Open adoption is full adoption which changes all the relationships a child has irreversibly. Parental responsibility is transferred to the adopters and they become the legal parents for life. Birth parents lose all rights. The 'open' bit means that some contact is permitted between specified relatives, and the type of contact is prescribed at the point of adoption. Sometimes it is only contact by letter at infrequent intervals. Sometimes face to face contact is permitted but this would not usually be very frequent.
Special Guardianship was designed to be a halfway house between a residence order and adoption. It transfers parental responsibility to the Special Guardian and they can make all day to day decisions about the child to the exclusion of anyone else except another Special Guardian. Birth parents retain parental responsibility but it is considerably weaker than with a residence order where parental responsibility is shared equally. You would be in a much stronger position to maintain contact in this case than if the child is adopted. However I would urge you to seek specialist legal advice if at all possible.
The Family Rights Group is excellent, here is the link:
Thank you for the link I found this very informative, this has given me pointers to the differences. I am not totally against the open adoption as I think it is in the child's interest and the proposed adoptors are relations of the child who at the moment are committed to maintaining the contact but I was unsure of the process post adoption. My reading of this is that there is potential to maintain contact and the local authority is supportive of me maintaining contact with and the family plan caters for this to a certain extent.
I'm glad that was helpful SJP and its good to hear of cases where the local authority and prospective adopters are working together positively to consider what is best for the child. It can't be easy for you and I do hope things will work our for all of you