Clauses 53 to 62

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 20 November 2001.

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The clauses in the Bill relating to the sharing of information are extremely complex and require clarification. Clause 54(6) provides for information to be shared where agreement is reached. We hope that there will be an opportunity for birth parents to change their minds, where they have originally not wished to pass on information, and let the agency know that they are willing for information to be passed on. Agencies receive many health inquiries from adoptees. Unfortunately the proposals make the process worse for adopted adults as clause 55(5) of the 1976 Act will be repealed. The adoption agency will be the intermediary between adoptees and their birth families. We are not happy with the proposal that the adopted child would have to go to the adoption agency for their birth certificate instead of having direct access. The child should be treated as a child of the adoptive family but without pretending that they had not been born to another family. We recommend that the right of adopted adults to have access to their birth certificates should be retained.

We welcome the clarification of the duty of local authorities to provide services to birth parents, and their power to give support also to other birth family members, but there is nothing in the Bill indicating whether this service should extend to the provision of intermediary services to birth family members who are hoping to establish some contact with the adopted (adult) person. The Department of Health recently issued guidance to adoption agencies on the provision of such services, and we would welcome a commitment to put such guidance on a statutory footing.