A law that recognises an adopted person’s right to his or her identity has been a long time coming. The Adoption Information and Tracing Bill will allow adoptees a right to their birth certificates.
While it is expansive in one way — by applying to both retrospective and prospective adoptions and including those who were subject to informal and illegal adoptions — it is restrictive in others.
Any adoption legislation is bound to be a balancing act between the adoptee’s right to identity and the birth mother’s right to privacy, but the latter’s right appears to be paramount under this Government measure.
The current proposals provide that an adoptee may be refused their birth certificate where “compelling reasons” exist, yet the bill does not specify what those reasons might be.
Also, the inclusion of a requirement that an adopted person sign a statutory declaration agreeing to respect their birth mother’s wishes before getting access to their birth certificate is both unnecessary and offensive, painting adoptees as insensitive to the wishes of their biological parents.
Most worrying of all, though, is that while there should be an urgency to get the bill passed with adequate resources, there is already a long waiting list for information and tracing services and the new law is unlikely to make the statute books before next year’s general election.
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