New Rights for Children and Relatives of Adopted People to Trace their Birth Family

Gwenda Thomas AMThe children and grandchildren of adopted people could have the right to make contact with their parent’s birth family under plans announced by the Welsh Government.

The Deputy Minister for Social Services, Gwenda Thomas, said the Welsh Government is committed to extending access to intermediary services to the children and grandchildren of adults adopted in Wales before 30 December 2005. A different procedure is in place in relation to adoptions which took place on or after 31 December 2005.

Intermediary services, which may be managed by a local authority, voluntary adoption agency or adoption support agency, were set up to facilitate contact between adopted people and their birth relatives. They also provide counselling, support and advice.

Currently, the services can only be used by adopted people and their birth relatives. Welsh Ministers are now consulting on using new powers to extend access to such services to other categories of people such as the children and grandchildren of adopted persons, and to members of the adopted person’s wider family, such as the spouses of their descendants.

Under the proposals, adopted people may register, in writing, a veto to prevent an intermediary agency from making contact or to say that they only want to be contacted in certain circumstances.

The Welsh Government plans to bring regulations into force for Wales by summer 2015.

Gwenda Thomas said:

“I believe that there are good reasons why access to intermediary services should be extended to the descendants and relatives of adopted persons. For example, there may be health reasons such as finding out about a hereditary medical condition or other health issue which could affect the health of a person’s children.

“So as a minimum I believe that access should be extended to the children and grandchildren of an adopted person – including those who are themselves adopted.

“We also believe that there should be adequate safeguards in place to protect the family and private life of adopted adults, and to balance the sometimes competing rights of adopted people, ‘prescribed persons’ and birth relatives.”

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