Directors withdraw backing for birth parents’ right to block records access

Association of Directors of Social Services last week withdrew its
evidence supporting the right of birth parents to deny adopted
people access to their birth records, during the committee stage of
the Adoption and Children Bill.

“I’m not
going to defend my corner, but I am going to retreat from it,”
former ADSS president, and Kensington and Chelsea director of
social services, Moira Gibb told the House of Commons special
standing committee.

Indicating that the ADSS had received further information on the
issue, she added: “If you wanted to accuse us of being confused,
then you would have some justification.”

58 of the bill, as it currently stands, would make it impossible
for adoption agencies (including local authorities) to disclose to
adopted adults the information needed to obtain a copy of their
original birth certificate, whenever a birth parent objected to the
disclosure of the information. This would reverse the existing
right introduced by the Children Act 1975.

bill’s principal at the Department of Health James Paton said the
government wanted to ensure a more consistent approach to the
information adopted people could access. This would include
allowing all parties the opportunity to express a view about the
disclosure of identification information and putting in place
safeguards for the small minority where disclosure would be
“inappropriate or harmful”.

said the DoH had received a small number of representations where
disclosure might be potentially dangerous for birth parents,
including one case in which an adoptee had set out their “express
intention of killing their birth parent”, because the adoption had
taken place after severe abuse which had left the adoptee
physically damaged.

reply, committee chairperson David Hinchliffe suggested the
government was using “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”. Paton also
admitted that the DoH did not have any information on criminal
offences committed by adopted people against their birth

evidence for British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, its chief
executive Felicity Collier said: “We do hope very, very strongly
that you will reject this change.”

Debate grows over threshold for consent

the threshold for when a birth parent’s consent can be dispensed
with in adoption placements would be a “very bad idea”, it was
claimed last week.

evidence to the House of Commons special standing committee on the
Adoption and Children Bill currently before parliament, former
professor of applied social studies at Swansea University Sonia
Jackson said she was “absolutely opposed” to suggestions put
forward by campaigners, including BAAF.

the bill as it stands, courts and adoption agencies will have to
take account of “child’s welfare” in dispensing with parental
consent to adoption. But BAAF and others have argued that the
bill’s wording should be amended so the adoption would have to be
“so significantly better for the child than any other option”.

Professor Jackson disagreed, pointing to evidence that shows the
public care system is not a good corporate parent and that only 5
per cent of looked-after children are adopted.

“Adoption is by far the most stable form of placement,” she said,
adding that BAAF’s proposals would undermine the government’s
objectives of increasing the number of adoptions.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.