The descendants of adults who were adopted as children will be able to trace their family trees under new rules announced today.
Current regulations only allow the adopted person and their immediate “birth relatives”, such as siblings, to apply for information about each other or make contact via intermediary services such as adoption agencies.
This right has now been extended to children, grandchildren and other relatives who have a ‘prescribed relationship’ with people who were adopted before 30 December 2005 This relationship might exist via blood, marriage civil partnership or even the adoption process. They will be able to learn more about their family and medical histories or meet relatives.
Edward Timpson is Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Education and Children and Families Minister. He said:
“It’s right that descendants and other relatives of adopted adults are able to access important information, such as medical records or genetic health conditions, which could impact upon how they live their life today.”
The MP for Crewe and Nantwich added:
“They should also be able to find out about important events from their past, as well as make contact with family members if they wish.”
Julia Feast of the British Association for Fostering and Adoption said the charity was “very pleased by the announcement”.
She stressed the importance, however, of ensuring that the rights of adopted people were not overlooked.
The consent of the adopted person will be required for all requests under the new regulations, unless the information sought could not be used to identify individuals, the adopted person cannot be located or the adopted person as either died or lacks capacity to make their own decisions.
The new regulations will come into force by November this year.
Earlier this month, a woman was granted access to her late father’s adoption record by the High Court. She told Bristol Family Court that she wanted to better understand her family background and medical history.
Photo by Jim Crossley via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence