Adoption contact rules set to change in Wales

Image caption The consultation is on how far people would like to see contact widened

Children and grandchildren of adopted people could soon have the right to make contact with their parent's birth family.

Currently, that right is only available to adopted adults and their birth brothers or sisters.

But the Welsh government is proposing extending that right from next year.

One of the reasons is to help families find out if there are any health problems they might have inherited.

At the moment, intermediary agencies - either at the council, a voluntary adoption or adoption support agency - will only work with an adopted adult trying to make contact with their birth family or birth relatives.

Bur ministers have launched a consultation, questioning how far people would like to see contact widened - including to aunts, uncles, cousins and stepchildren.

The proposals include:

  • Extending access to the children and grandchildren of an adopted person - as a minimum change - for those adopted before the end of 2005.
  • Asking for views on use of vetoes for people who do not want to be contacted
  • Safeguards to protect the family and private life of adopted adults and "balance the sometimes competing rights" of adopted people, their families and birth relatives.
  • Asking whether birth relatives should be able to try to make contact with the adopted person's family, even if the adopted person has died.

Changes are set to come into force in England in September, but it would be next summer before the powers apply in Wales.


Deputy Minister for Social Services Gwenda Thomas said: "I believe that there are good reasons why access to intermediary services should be extended to the descendants and relatives of adopted persons.

"For example, there may be health reasons such as finding out about a hereditary medical condition or other health issue which could affect the health of a person's children."

Wendy Keidan, director of British Association for Adoption and Fostering Cymru, gave it a cautious welcome.

But she wants to examine the detail of exactly what is proposed - including how wide the circle of relatives it should apply it to.

"It's a very complex and complicated area and it involves people's feelings," she said.

"People can't just pick up the phone to make contact, they have to go through an intermediary agency, where they are offered counselling and support. It's vital that the appropriate professional support is there for whatever is proposed."

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