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High Court Judge backs calls for rethink on adoption contact

High Court Judge Lord Justice McFarlane has backed recent calls for a more flexible approach to contact with birth parents following adoption.

Giving the keynote address at the annual conference of social work organisation Nagalro, the veteran judge referred in approving terms to a recent study commissioned by the British Association of Social Workers. The resulting report, entitled The role of the social worker in adoption – ethics and human rights, claimed:

“A significant rethink of approaches to ‘contact’ and connection between adopted children and their families is needed…..The lack or cessation of direct contact can ‘store up trouble’ especially for birth families and adopted people.”

Lord Justice McFarlane discussed the issue of so-called ‘letterbox’ contact, in which birth parents are only allowed to write to their children post-adoption, a poorly supported and tenuous arrangement that frequently breaks down according to the report.

He said:

“I would encourage all those involved in adoption planning and decision making to focus more on the issue of contact and to ask, in each case, whether …letterbox contact is in fact the best for the individual child in the years that lie ahead for her, or whether a more flexible and open arrangement, developed with confidence and over time, may provide more beneficial support as the young person moves on towards adolescence and then adulthood.”

Read the full speech here.

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  1. Michele Simmons says:

    Will there be anywhere parents can write in from past or past/current experience re Judge McFarlane proposes research and which contact details would need to be used to send a brief summary.

  2. Dr. Manhattan. says:

    A very Logical development. Children should always have the opportunity to keep in contact with their birth parents and extended family. the letter idea is simply not good enough and in my opinion a Violation of Human Rights not to mention down right Cruel.

  3. Andrew says:

    My concern is that the supply of adoptive parents will dry up unless they know that they and only they are going to be the parents during minority.

    • Wiinston Smith says:

      that would be a very good thing as it would bring Forced Adoption to a stop.
      This has been suggested before between 1976 (the year of the first adoption act) and1980 ( act which provide for parent contact) because of the objection to Forced Adoption.

      It failed because the receiving families refused t o allow any meaningful contact with the children.

      So we have come full circle

  4. ck says:

    This can not be a court decision, do people want these courts in their life for a lifetime? I think not,
    absolutely outrageous, next will be enforceable by Law? Never

  5. sarah gunn says:

    This is needed it is the childrens rights that are important,

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