The Welsh government has launched a consultation on proposed changes to their adoption rules.
The changes would allow children and grandchildren of adopted people to locate their biological relatives.
Currently, people who have been adopted can seek information or contact with their biological family once they turn 18. These requests are made through ‘intermediary services’. They can be run by a local council, adoption agency, or adoption support group.
Under the Adoption and Children Act 2002, the biological family may also apply to an intermediary service for information about a child who has been adopted.
However, this right does not extend further. Children or grandchildren of an adopted adult cannot apply for information or contact. The Welsh government said that this means an “adopted person’s own children or grandchildren do not have the same rights as the birth relatives”.
Gwenda Thomas, the Deputy Minister for Social Services in Wales, said there were “good reasons” to extend the right of access to children and grandchildren “as a minimum”. These reasons include learning about any hereditary medical conditions “which could affect the health of a person’s children”.
She added that an additional proposal is to put “adequate safeguards in place to protect the family and private life of adopted adults”. These safeguards would include a veto over requests for contact. An adopted adult would have the right to refuse contact from their biological family outright or set out specific circumstances when it would be acceptable.
The current plan is for the rule changes to be brought into force in Wales next summer.
The proposed rules are the latest in a series of changes being made to the system. Earlier this year, new guidelines on adoption were issued by the government after a similar consultation.
If you would like to contribute to the debate, the consultation is open until 27 October 2014. You can find out how to contribute here.
Photo of The Senedd, the Welsh National Assembly building in Cardiff, by Wojtek Gurak via Flickr