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Calls for Review of Adoption Laws

Recent research into adoption has led to calls for adoption laws across the UK to be reviewed to allow for greater contact between adopted children and their birth families. 

The study was led was Brid Featherstone, who is Professor of Social Work at the University of Huddersfield, and was commissioned by the British Association of Social Workers (BASW). It found that direct contact between adopted children and birth parents is rare in most parts of the UK, and that there is low take-up of “letterbox contact”, which is the option most often available.

According to the researchers, this lack of contact can lead to serious identity issues amongst children and also distress for adoptive parents when children turn 18 and decide to find their birth parents.

Researchers made five key recommendations in their research report, which apparently have all been accepted by BASW.

One such recommendation was for the current model of adoption to be reviewed and for consideration to be given to a more open approach. On the back of this, BASW has called for “a review of adoption law in all countries of the UK, into whether the assumptions about severance of connection to families of origin is ethical”.

However, Professor Featherstone states that she would prefer that a greater emphasis be placed on cultural change rather than legislative change.

“You should start from the assumption that direct contact with birth parents ought to be considered,” she explained. “Usually, adopted children go searching when they get to 18 and it can store up trouble if they haven’t had previous contact, enabling them to see their birth parents for good or ill.”

“They can stop having fantasies about these wonderful parents that they were stolen away from, or equally that they were absolutely terrible people,” she added. “It’s about their identities. Adopted people told us that identity is a lifelong issue for them. Where do I come from? Who do I belong to?”

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