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14.1.25 Access to Information (Post-Commencement Adoption Orders)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter describes the circumstances in which information can be disclosed in relation to adopted persons, their birth relatives and others where the adoption order was made on or after the 30 December 2005.

For the position in relation to Adoption Orders made before 30 December 2005 see Intermediary Services Procedure.

See Adoption Case Records Procedure for the contents of the Adoption Case Record and the provisions in relation to access by professionals and other agencies to Adoption Case Records.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Adoption and Children Act 2002, Sections 56 to 65

Disclosure of Adoption Information (Post-Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005

Adoption and Children Act 2002 Guidance (2011), Chapter 11


Contents

  1. All Cases - Provision of Counselling
  2. Access to Birth Records
  3. Access to Adoption Case Records


1. All Cases - Provision of Counselling

In all cases where an application or request is dealt with under this procedure, the allocated social worker must provide written information about the availability of counselling to the applicant and to the subject, including information about agencies that provide counselling in the relevant area and any fees which may apply.

Where the applicant indicates a wish to receive counselling, the allocated social worker must ensure that the person receives the counselling, which may be through another agency. Where another agency is used, the allocated social worker should ensure that the counsellor will have the necessary skills and experience.

Where a referral is made to another agency for counselling to be provided, the allocated social worker should provide the agency carrying out the counselling with sufficient information about the applicant and/or the subject to enable the counselling to be beneficial.


2. Access to Birth Records

Adopted people aged 18 or over can apply for access to and a copy of their birth certificate. The procedure for dealing with any such application will differ depending on whether the Adoption Order was made before or after 30 December 2005.

For the position in relation to Adoption Orders made before 30 December 2005 see Intermediary Services Procedure.

When a caller enquires about access to birth records, the caller should be referred to the Adoption Service.

If it is established that the caller was adopted on or after 30 December 2005 and that the caller is a resident of the area, the enquiry will be passed to the Adoption Manager who will allocate the case. The allocated adoption social worker will arrange for an initial interview to take place.

At the initial interview, the adoption social worker will ask for photographic proof of the identity of the adopted person to ensure confidentiality, for example a passport or driving licence and evidence of his or her address, before providing any information.

For those adopted persons who confirm their wish to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate, they should be given the appropriate information to enable them to complete the application form to obtain a copy of their birth certificate. Where the requisite information is not held by the agency, the adoption social worker should seek the information from the General Register Office on the adopted person's behalf.

Adopted persons should be advised of their right to have a copy of the Child’s Permanence Report, which includes identifying information about the child, birth parents, birth siblings and possibly other members of the birth family.

For those who wish to trace members of their birth family, they should be advised of the various courses of action they can take - see Section 3, Access to Adoption Case Records.

The social worker should offer support and advice to the adopted person and will also inform him or her of any other relevant agencies offering support.

If it is considered that the adopted person should not have access to the information, legal advice should be obtained regarding a possible application to the High Court to prevent access.


3. Access to Adoption Case Records

See Adoption Case Records Procedure for the contents of the Adoption Case Record and the provisions in relation to access by professionals and other agencies to Adoption Case Records.

For the position in relation to Adoption Orders made before 30 December 2005 see Intermediary Services Procedure.

This describes the procedure where the adoption order was made on or after 30 December 2005. Full details are contained in Chapter 11 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 Guidance (2011).

Any person may apply to the appropriate adoption agency for the disclosure of protected information about any person involved in adoption. Applications for the disclosure of protected information may therefore be made by adopted people, birth relatives or any other person involved in an adoption. The adoption agency has discretion not to agree to the requested disclosure. It must record its decision and the reasons.

Paragraphs 37 to 40 Chapter 11 of the guidance sets out the details to be provided in the application depending on whether the application is made by the adopted person or birth relative and a flowchart for the processing of applications is on page 217.

Protected information is defined as information which is about a person and contains identifying information about that person.

The Adoption Service must consider the following matters before deciding whether to disclose protected information to the applicant:

  • The welfare of the adopted person;
  • The views of the person to whom the information relates and if this is a child, his or her parents;
  • All the circumstances of the case.

The Adoption Service cannot disclose identifying information about an adopted person to birth relatives without the consent of the adopted person.

Where the request relates to an adopted child, the obtaining of consent will depend on the child’s age and understanding and the consent of the prospective adopters will also be required.

Persons involved in adoptions can provide their consent in advance to the disclosure of identifying information about them at some point in the future.

Decisions made in relation to applications for disclosure of protected information must be communicated in writing both to the applicant and the subject, and the reasons for the decision must be outlined.

Where an application for disclosure of information relating to an adult is refused, this is a Qualifying Determination and the applicant may apply to the Independent Review Mechanism in relation to the decision.

Where an application for disclosure of information is agreed despite the objection of the subject, this is also a Qualifying Determination and the subject of the information may apply to the Independent Review Mechanism.

The person requesting an Independent Review must apply within 40 working days of receiving notification of the decision.

There is no similar right to an Independent Review where the application relates to information held on a child and is refused.

Where a matter is referred to an Independent Review Panel, the Independent Review Panel will send their recommendation to the Adoption Service. The Adoption Service is not obliged to follow the recommendation, but must take it into account when reconsidering the application.

The Adoption Service must then notify the applicant, the subject and the Independent Review Panel of the decision and reasons.

End