Groups want delay to bill’s proposals

Leading adoption groups are calling for a delay in the introduction
of government proposals for birth parents to have rights to trace
their adopted children.

The proposals, scheduled for implementation in April 2003, include
plans for a single adoption agency to take the lead role for
intermediary services, guidance to clarify how agencies should
respond to requests for information and promotion of the Adoption
Contact Register. The government is consulting on the proposals and
has allocated funding for the project in the 2003-4 budget.

But Pam Hodgkins, founder and trustee of adoption charity Norcap,
said the uncertainty over how the proposals would develop made the
government’s deadline too tight.

“If the proposals could be looked at after the bill has passed
through parliament it would be far more realistic. A delay of six
to 12 months would be constructive,” she said.

However, the Department of Health has warned that if the funding
earmarked for the project in next year’s budget is not used, it
could be difficult to obtain resources allocated in the future.

Adoption groups are concerned that a single co-ordinating agency
will not be able to carry out the work and that there is no
mandatory requirement for adoption agencies to provide intermediary

Instead, they are arguing for an amendment to the Adoption and
Children Bill to give adoption support agencies the option of
providing intermediary services and to enable them to access
information from the registrar-general.

The government does not support the idea, but the House of Lords is
considering such an amendment.

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