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Adopted children should remain ‘close to birth families’

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The adoption system should be restructured to allow affected children to maintain links to their birth families, social workers have suggested.

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) made this radical suggestion on publication of a study it had commissioned highlighting the detrimental effects on adopted children of losing all contact with their relatives.

The BASW commissioned the study from Royal Holloway University in London and the University of Huddersfield. it concluded that isolation from their relatives can affect children’s sense of identity and damage their emotional wellbeing.

The resulting report is entitled The role of the social worker in adoption – ethics and human rights: An Enquiry. It declares:

“Adopted children denied contact can experience serious identity issues and when they are free to seek out their birth families at age 18, [and] adoptive parents can be ill-prepared for the emotional consequences.”

The BASW notes that near universal access to the internet now makes preventing contact between adopted children and their birth especially challenging and calls for a major rethink of adoption policy, “with a consideration of whether and in what circumstances a more open approach to maintaining kinship links should be promoted in legislation and policy”. Separating adopted children from their relatives may not be ethical it suggested.

Brid Featherstone, a professor of social work at the University of Huddersfield, led the review. She said:

“You should start from the assumption that direct contact with birth parents ought to be considered. Usually, adopted children go searching when they get to 18 and it can store up trouble if they haven’t had previous contact, enabling them to see their birth parents for good or ill.”

She added:

“They can stop having fantasies about these wonderful parents that they were stolen away from, or equally that they were absolutely terrible people. It’s about their identities. Adopted people told us that identity is a lifelong issue for them. Where do I come from? Who do I belong to?”

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Helen Dudden says:

    At last, some thoughts for children who are placed in a difficult position.

  2. sam says:

    Social workers and trainee are the ones who drives at not promoting contact. It was actually the BASW who said social workers need to work on promoting seeing family’s before ,during and IF adopted. It would be better to speak to adoptee’s who have found there files to be full of black markers not being able to put a sentence together to find the family. After adoption felt guilty and was told it is not your fault the social services had used the marker. 10 years on after 40 years of looking we know the mother died there are 6 siblings all SEPERATELY adopted and father unknown that’s it.

    Children grow wondering where do I belong,where was I born and who do I belong to but asking was they loved. A new law has to be brought in to stop social workers just coming in swapping social workers and taking children. What would be really devastating is one day realising they might have the wrong child e.g. wrong sex,wrong parents or grandparents name’s. Due to ignorance of not meeting the parents or grandparents and completing forms and assessments to find there was a reason NOBODY could meet a person as she NEVER existed. That would be a devastating impact on the child,the sibling who have never met each other as she to was taken at birth.

    In the child’s best interests they say? Permonece reports and files are denied because it’s impossible to have them. A CHILD do not have PR ever that’s logic and common sense not fabricated documents…a social worker is supposed to do A,B AN C by putting the RISK they over step A&B .
    A child can come to serious and imminent harm and when you ask the judge why wasn’t the relevant people served notice or a letter your the bad person for his and another judges substantial failings for not addressing this on the first hearing. Logical questions MUST be asked in the best interests of the child/Children. A structure of contact and social services failing to comply with the PD is unforgivable and they wonder why people are up in arm’s.
    Parents are becoming desperate and social media is a very powerful tool.
    Good luck everyone and keep fighting for contact and bringing the child home.

    • ak says:

      After adoption contact (in my opinion) is to relieve the LA and workers of their guilty consciences of state control of families, by trying to replace what they have illegally severed for a child’s life, in my mind 2 wrongs do not make a right. The public at large need the law to stay as it is

  3. ak says:

    Adoption is forever, not a child loaned, the adoptive parents should have sole control as natural parents have.
    Parents who have lost their child through the state adoption system, should not be further controlled by the state, or the state having any control over these X parents lives, this situation is untenable and should never be considered as law, the end should stay as it is, no further state intervention after adoption

  4. John Bradshaw says:

    As a Dad by adoption , in principle I agree with ‘open’ adoption as it is important for developing individual identity but it is not always a good idea .it might impact negatively on bond with parents by adoption and some adopters are likely to consider such legal obligation as just too much . personally I urge more support in keeping biological families together and to bring more transparency to a deeply flawed and corrupt British judicial system.

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