Adoption bill prevents adopted people contacting birth parents

Quite a stir has been caused by Clauses 53 to 62 of the Adoption
and Children Bill, a group of sections on disclosure of information
about a person’s adoption.

Clause 53 provides for regulation making powers in respect of
‘protected’ information about a person’s adoption.
Clause 54 establishes a duty that disclosure may only be made in
pursuance of the group of sections. Clause 58(6) requires that
regulations made by virtue of subsection (5) must make provision
for ensuring that protected information is not disclosed to the
adopted person while there is an effective objection to the
disclosure, unless the disclosure is made in prescribed

Under section 51 of the Adoption Act 1976 an adopted person who
reaches the age of 18 has a right to a copy of their original birth
certificate. The proposed new provisions appear to reverse this by
giving birth parents at least an initial veto over disclosure.
There has been uproar from some adoption agencies, an article in
The Times and questions to the special committee examining the

The insertion of this clause is a puzzle on several counts. It
is a new provision, not included in previous versions of the bill,
and no warning was given of the intention to add it. Enquiries
suggest that it has been inserted following pressure from a small
group of people, who were concerned for their safety. Is there an
adult vested interest somewhere?

But the puzzle is even greater when you think that the birth
certificate has to be available to adopters when they make their
court application, and they are likely to retain a copy for
historical purposes. If there is a need to prevent disclosure there
are court procedures which can assist: see R v Registrar General,
ex parte Smith [1991] 2 FLR 79. But surely the onus should be on
the parent to make a substantial argument for non-disclosure?

This would be a step backwards 25 years. It is difficult to
believe that the clause will survive the passage of the bill
through parliament.

Richard White

White and Sherwin Solicitors



More from Community Care

Comments are closed.