Behind the headlines

The government has announced measures to help people who want to
trace children they gave up for adoption. New registered adoption
support agencies in England will act as a go-between and support
both parents and adoptees.It is estimated that some two million
people might be interested in applying to an adoption support
agency or might be the subject of an application. The initiative is
aimed at ending the current postcode lottery where in some parts of
the country there is no specialist counselling available.

Julia Ross, social services director, London Borough of
Barking and Dagenham

“Parenting is a two-way thing, as every parent and child knows. The
cycle of life from child to parent and later to a different
relationship with children who themselves become parents is rich,
changing and challenging. Knowing who we are and where we came from
and why is everyone’s right. We all want different things at
different stages and adoptive parents, children and those who gave
their child up for adoption – willingly or otherwise – need to be
part of that jigsaw. They alone, however, can decide whether they
want to exercise that right. These new arrangements will be in all
our interests, as long as they support what will for some be
painful experiences and are flexibly open to people’s changing life

Felicity Collier, chief executive, Baaf Adoption and

“As this service has already been provided by many agencies, the
support needs of those affected are known. Equal access to an
intermediary service for all birth relatives is huge progress. It
is sad that this cannot be free because there will be some
disadvantaged birth parents, who might rely on pensions, who cannot
afford to pay and will need charitable funds. Another form of
postcode lottery?”

Lisa Harker, chair, Daycare Trust
“It is abhorrent to think that for so many years meeting the needs
of birth parents of adopted children has been dependent simply on
the goodwill of certain agencies. With sensitivity and careful
balancing of the wishes of adoptees and birth relatives, the
proposed new intermediary service will help ease a considerable
amount of anguish. In a society as sophisticated and civilised as
our own we should expect nothing less.”

Karen Squillino, children’s services manager,

“I was not aware, until reading this story, that there were no
requirements on adoption agencies to provide this element of
adoption support. It is pleasing to see that the lobbying by the
charity, Norcap, has been successful even though it has, I imagine,
been a long and arduous process. I am left feeling positive in the
knowledge that the implementation of the act will make a positive
difference in the lives of many people.”

Bill Badham, development officer, National Youth

“This validates post-adoption support services. It is right to
establish these on a national scale with proper regulation and
registration – and funding. It is right that birth parents should
be able to trace their adopted children (once over 18) through an
intermediary, but only if the adopted person wishes it. But it must
be the right of the adopted child (when under 18) to know of their
birth parents and to make contact where circumstances allow.”

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