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Children and Families Bill - Adoption

10th February 2014

Jonathan Djanogly questions the Government about reform to adoption law and the access of children and grandchildren of an adopted person to that person’s natural parents.

Mr Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) (Con): Will the Minister please say whether there will be a presumption in favour of disclosure to children and grandchildren? Specifically, if an adopted person does not wish to have contact with the birth parents, does the amendment state that prescribed persons can go against those wishes?

Mr Timpson: I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for his continued interest in this important matter. The whole basis of the amendment is to extend the provisions that already exist, so that anyone who wants to make further inquiries, about accessing information or making contact, has to do so through the intermediary services. There is not a presumption, therefore, in that sense. We are looking to go beyond the direct line of descendants from the adopted person, who obviously fall within the prescribed relationship category, and consult on whether we should widen that to others. The provision certainly does not work on the basis that if someone does not want to have contact there is a presumption that that will take place.

Mr Djanogly: Is my hon. Friend saying that the intermediary might have more discretion than the adopted person, who may have a different view from the children?

Mr Timpson: The intermediary service is there to ensure that anyone who seeks access does so in a way that does not compromise the position of the person they are seeking either to gain access to or make contact with. That is in line with the approach that already exists, and which works well and successfully. What I can say on the record to reassure my hon. Friend is that this will not force anybody to have contact if they do not wish to do so. Clearly, there will be lots of reasons why people will either want to make contact or have access to records. For example, someone may want to understand the genetic history of direct descendants to see whether there is a prevalent hereditary disease to which they are more prone.

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