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.
“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.