Monday, 7 October 2013

Appeal to redress Adoption & Children Act (2002) anomaly

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) and the Descendants of Deceased Adopted Persons (DAP) Group are urging the government to recognise the unfairness and discrimination created by an anomaly in the Adoption & Children Act (2002).

BAAF and DAP have been campaigning for a change in the law to enable descendants of deceased adopted people to have the same rights as other relatives to access an intermediary service in order to obtain the original birth information they need.

As the law stands a relative of an adopted person is defined as any person who (but for the adoption) would be related to him by blood or marriage, thereby excluding descendants.

Baroness Sally Hamwee has tabled an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that will revise the Adoption & Children Act and attend to the information needs and rights of the direct descendants of deceased adopted persons during the debates on the Children and Families Bill (Committee stage, House of Lords 9 October 2013).

Baroness Hamwee says: “We all have a need to know about our own backgrounds. ‘Who do you think you are?’ is a very apt title. My amendment – which has been recommended by a Lords Select Committee – would extend the rights of a relatively small group of people currently excluded from seeking assistance in finding information about a direct ascendant. It would take only a small change to law (which by all accounts some people thought had actually been made in 2002) to enable them to find out about something fundamental to their understanding of their own identities.”

BAAF believes that it is crucial for all direct descendants of deceased adopted people to be given the opportunity to find out the truth of the family background and history for their own well-being and life choices.

Julia Feast OBE, Policy Research & Development Consultant from BAAF says: “Amending the law to give direct descendants of deceased adopted the same rights as other birth relatives to intermediary services, is something that BAAF fully supports. Local authorities and adoption agencies have been providing safe, efficient and cost effective intermediary services for many years, and extending this opportunity to descendants is unlikely to have a huge impact. Many organisation support a change in law.”

The number of direct descendants who request intermediary services is likely to be small, but the impact of accessing information will be profound as Frances Lake, Co-ordinator of the DAP Group describes:

“Descendants have their own personal reasons for wanting to know their biological background, that includes understanding who we are, or wanting to know more about a family genetic medical condition. These reasons are not just driven by curiosity, but often from a psychological or physical need. My father was adopted and I have not been able to find out any information about my heritage.

“Not knowing my blood line has had a deeply profound impact on my life, as it has for other descendants in similar circumstances. The law must be changed to give us an opportunity for peace of mind.”

Additional:

BAAF is the UK’s leading charity for children separated from their birth families. We provide services to meet the needs of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children and young people. BAAF was awarded an overall grade of ‘Outstanding’ in our Ofsted inspection in 2011 (England). In 2011/12 we helped find families for over 700 children through our family finding services, we dealt with many thousands of enquiries from professionals and the public through our UK-wide general enquiries service and we sold over 45,000 books on adoption and fostering. For more information visit www.baaf.org.uk

Keep up to date on all the latest fostering and adoption news by following us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BAAFAdoption and Twitter: www.twitter.com/BAAFAdoption

See the questions and answers about DAP on www.adoptionsearchreunion.org.uk/search/dap/

(With thanks to Frances Lake)

Chris

My latest book, Discover Scottish Civil Registration Records, is now available from http://www.gould.com.au (print) and http://www.gen-ebooks.com/unlock-the-past.html (ebook), whilst Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet is available at http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Irish-History-on-the-Internet/p/3889/. My next Pharos Scottish course, Scotland 1750-1850: Beyond the OPRs, starts Nov 13th - see http://pharostutors.com.

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