Intermediary services for birth relatives

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 21 November 2001.

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The impact of these provisions will be felt not only by adopted people but also by their birth relatives, including separated siblings. The Children's Society is currently undertaking another study entitled, Completing the circle—The Adoptive and Birth Parents' Experience of Adoption, Search & Reunion, in collaboration with Professor John Triseliotis. The study has already produced some preliminary findings that would be beneficial to the government in framing a legislative framework for access to information and for the statutory provision of intermediary services.

The Government has made a commitment to overhaul and modernise current adoption legislation. It is crucial therefore that adoption legislation takes a life long perspective: unless the provision of intermediary services are acknowledged in a legislative framework then this will not be achieved. For many years now some Adoption Agencies and local authorities have provided intermediary services for birth relatives, but it is a lottery. There needs to be a statutory duty on local authorities and adoption agencies to provide intermediary services. The Department of Health has already issued practice guidance about this area of work for those agencies choosing to provide this service. The Children's Society research provides evidence of the benefits and positive outcomes for non-searching adopted people and their birth and adoptive relatives and confirms the need to provide intermediary services for birth relatives. Whilst it is important that adoption legislation meets the needs of children today it must also meet the needs of all adults who have been affected by adoption in the past and who continue to experience the life long issues it raises.