Clause 58: Disclosing Information to Adopted Adults - Clause 59: Disclosing Protected Information in Other Circumstances - Clause 60: Counselling - Clause 61: Other Provisions to Be Made by Regulations

Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at on 21 November 2001.

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We are concerned about the limitations of the disclosure of information to adopted adults. We would have serious concerns about any legislation which created a two-tier system in relation to information concerning identity and background. Our view, based on counselling adopted adults since 1976, is that all adopted adults should have the right to choose to access information about their origins. Any instrument which prevented this would fundamentally disadvantage certain adopted people. It would affect the confidence of adoptive families as they help their children integrate past and present and to move towards possible re-union with birth family members at a future date. It creates additional problems when placed in the context of sibling placements, as there is the potential for different wishes to be expressed in relation to each child. Furthermore, in any placement there is the possibility that each birth parent may express contradictory views in relation to this Clause. We would see this part of the legislation as being an entirely retrograde step. Indeed, the legislators who drew up the 1975 Children Act and the research which informed the provision, are to be congratulated for their understanding of the needs of adopted people. We consider that the implications which arise from these Clauses are the complete antithesis of the spirit and intention underpinning the current legislation and cut across best practice in relation to the users of an adoption service. Whilst respecting the range of issues that may exist for birth parents, we would suggest that issues of this kind should be co-ordinated in the terms of a comprehensive post-adoption service, which offers the appropriate advice, support and information to birth family members throughout the years following an adoption.