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Human Rights and Adopted Children

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 29 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Adoption Human Rights Child Adopted

Article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“the ECHR”) upholds the right to start a family. The 1998 Human Rights Act enshrines this right in UK law. The right to start a family includes the right to adopt a child. The ECHR does not oblige governments to provide adoption facilities; it does require governments to ensure that any systems for adoption which operate do not interfere with this right.

Article 14 of the ECHR states that the other rights contained in it should be applied without discrimination on any basis including sex, race, birth or “other status”. In broad terms the ECHR protects both the right to adopt a child and to enjoy the other rights contained within it without discrimination - regardless of whether one is adopted or adopts.

Equality Laws and Adoption

Recent UK equality laws restricted the ability of organisations to discriminate in the provision of services. The laws have meant that some religious, charitable organisations which previously provided adoption services may be prevented from doing so because they did not provide adoption services on an equal basis to all members of society. For example, some Catholic adoption charities - which only provided adoption services to heterosexual, married couples - breached the new equality laws.

UK equality laws do give some leeway to religious organisations which discriminate in accordance with the doctrine of their religion. However, anti-discrimination laws will be more strictly applied to publicly-funded adoption services operating in the wider community than to a religious organisation which operates on a more private level.

Rights of an Adopted Child

The laws which apply to adopted children depend, to some extent, on when they were adopted. The Adoption Act 1976 applies to children adopted before 30th December 2005 and the Adoption and Children Act 2002 applies to children adopted from 30th December 2005 onwards. However, many of the rules contained in the two Acts are similar.

When a child is adopted in accordance with UK law, the child generally acquires all the rights and entitlements of a biological child. In legal terms it is as if the adopted child was born to their adoptive parent or parents. A child who is legally adopted by British citizens will usually be treated as a British citizen regardless of the country of its birth.

Children adopted in accordance with UK law will also have the same rights to inherit their adoptive parents’ estates as would biological children. If a person dies intestate, (ie. without having made a will,) their adopted child has the same right to inherit their estate, or a share of it, as any biological children. This right is dependent on the child having been validly adopted in accordance with UK law and the entitlement may not exist if a child is adopted abroad and the foreign adoption was not formalised under UK law. Adopted children lose the automatic right to inherit from their biological parents.

In most of the UK, children who have reached the age of 18 have the right to see their full birth certificate, which may reveal that the child is adopted and give the name of their biological parents. In Scotland children have the right to see their birth certificate from the age of 16. A record of all children who have been adopted is now kept on the Adopted Children Register.

Adopted children who have reached the age of 18 may use another register, the Adopted Contact Register, to find their biological relatives. By adding their details to the Register an adopted child indicates to their biological relatives that they wish to contact them. However, the biological relatives must also have registered their details for this system of contact to be effective.

Rights of Adoptive Parents

Technically anyone over the age of 21 is eligible, and “has the right”, to be an adoptive parent. However, according to the Adoption and Children Act 2002, the welfare of the child must be the “paramount consideration” of both adoption agencies and of any court asked to make an adoption order. Therefore, a wide range of eligibility criteria can, and will, be applied to prospective parents.

These criteria should only relate to factors likely to influence an applicant’s ability to be a good parent and may vary according to the individual child. The line between discriminating against a prospective parent and protecting the child’s best interests may sometimes be blurred. For example, opinion is divided on whether children should only be adopted by those who share the child's ethnic background. Prospective parents who are rejected because they are from a different ethnic background could claim that they have been discriminated against and had their human rights curtailed. However, if this decision is deemed to be in the child's best interests the prospective parents' rights may have to take second place to the child's welfare.

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Hello. I have a friend who was adopted and is being abused physically in his home and he wants to go live with another relative. He wants to know how that can be done.
Peter - 29-Mar-17 @ 12:43 AM
I had 3 children adopted when I was about 16/17 a child really myself, now 13 years on my life's changed for the better, always had letter box never missed a year, also never did they untill they stopped 3 years ago, only to find out a few months ago my son of 15 now was on a life support machine for 3 months and wasn't told he nearly died from an explosion, my 14 year girl cutting herself and is unhappy. And also my children are on child protection for mental abuse. My kids keep messaging me to wanna come live with me or at least have some contact which social services and adoptive parents won't allow. My son crys to me saying please mum i need u. Now ive been given a order by the police not to contact them can someone help me b3st way forward thank u
Milly - 29-Mar-17 @ 12:38 AM
Hi there , I wonder if you could advise. My brother in law received an e-mail from a girl saying that she is my husbands daughter and the she would like to get some information and some questions answered. Is it ok for my husband to reply to her or does it have to be through a third person?
mapi - 24-Mar-17 @ 9:45 AM
Anbar - Your Question:
I adopted a little girl, whose now 2. She has 4 grown up adopted Brothers and sisters. My question is " if I was to die, could birth mother come back into her life and get custody ?"

Our Response:
No, biological parents cannot regain custody of apopted children.
AboutHumanRights - 17-Mar-17 @ 11:40 AM
I adopted a little girl, whose now 2. She has 4 grown up adopted Brothers and sisters. My question is " if I was to die, could birth mother come back into her life and get custody ?"
Anbar - 15-Mar-17 @ 3:48 PM
Iam a adoption ,how is the rights myfather proparty, plese telme sir
chitti - 7-Mar-17 @ 4:05 AM
Don't know much about UK law but under USA laws some States will issue a so-called birth certificate saying two women, or two men, had a baby, when they weren't even in that city at the time...and you cannot see your real birth record until age 18, if ever, since it depends on the State. HOWEVER, the child might peek at the so-called birth certificate whilst it is out, such as for school enrollment, and learn the hospital and hour of his or her birth. The Catholic adoption services cannot operate in some States because they will not deliver a baby into the hands of homosexuals. There is something more that can be done. Catholic priests for centuries have recorded baptisms in the parish registers, and noted the date and place of the child's birth. Simply add the time and hospital and keep an index at diocesan headquarters. As Johnny walks home from middle school one day, he might stop at any Catholic church to request help. The pastor rings the distant diocese and sure enough, there is a match. The priest is not interfering with lawful custody, but only providing Johnny with a copy of his baptismal record. Now imagine the reaction of the adopters when Johnny flashes the baptismal certificate and snaps: "Stop calling me Leroy! My name is Johnny, and I want to live with my mother and father!"
SomebodySmart - 6-Mar-17 @ 1:13 AM
Aslania - Your Question:
Can social services inform adoptive parents of any future children the biological mother has and tell them of all the details about them?

Our Response:
If the natural parents and adoptive parents have agreed to letter box contact etc, then yes if all the parents agree on the level of detail beforehand. It's not common for address and specific names to be given in normal letter box contact though.
AboutHumanRights - 24-Feb-17 @ 10:04 AM
Can social services inform adoptive parents of any future children the biological mother has and tell them of all the details about them?
Aslania - 21-Feb-17 @ 7:06 AM
Adoption is a delusion. A delusion created by mankind in order to give adults the right to destroy the lives of other people's children. Adoption = mental slavery. Period. GROUPTHINK WINS! AND THE INDIVIDUAL'S (adopted child's) NATURE IS DESTROYED FOR THE SAKE OF GROUP IMAGE. They are the sheep, who I was forced to blindly follow until I could see my destination of a coffin. I jumped ship after I found my Mum and I would have (no doubt) ended my life if I hadn't found her/my nature/my soul/my self/my heart. THE ROLE OF ADOPTIVE PARENTS IS TO BRAINWASH 'SOMEBODY ELSE'S' INNOCENT CHILD INTO BELIEVING THAT THEY ARE THEIRS (BECAUSE THEY RAISED THEM)??? A BLATANT LIE. I RAISED MY KITTEN, SO DOES THAT MAKE ME HER MOTHER?? How dare you disgusting women put yourselves in the shoes of the child's real mother. How dare you, seriously?? I hope that an adopted child kills their adopted parents for the lies they are forced to live for an eternity. It would be a warning sign to 'ALL OF YOU' and better for them to kill the people causing the misery than themselves. Adoptive parents would deserve it. And funnily enough, I never hear of adoptive parents committing suicide but I hear of adoptees doing it all of the time. I can teach a child that a wall is blue (it might be red) but the child will agree with me in the end, that's why we see (decent people see) lying to children as both wrong, immoral and abusive. Because the child doesn't have a strong enough psychology to challenge those lies. The will do. When they are older they will. And I hope (just like me) that they will set an example for truth, honesty and the ethical treatment of other people's children, which starts with the equal and human rights of all children. Instead of the example being set by the adults (adoptive parents) which is to lie, manipulate and deceive other people's children for their own gains. The truth would scare most people if they'd never lived a moment of it. The trick of the adoptive parents is to keep the adopted child in the dark. And the truth about adoption is that the adoption industry sells the adopted child's nature in exchange for a home. A win, win for the adoptive parents. And a path to a mental health disorder for the adoptee, who will tell the lies, because they are not informed that their identity should have never been taken away from them. Not by anyone. Least of all the adoptive parents (the very people who will capitalise on the child's loss). Adult adoptees claiming they are happy to be adopted??? Oh,Puh-lease!!! It's called emotional blackmail. It's also called brainwashing/self-delusion and loyalty to Mum & Dad. You know, those people who aren't really Mum & Dad, but who need somebody else's child to pretend that they are??? Only if the adoptee refused to tell their lies would you see the real adoptive parents (as a truthteller, I've seen the reality of telling the truth to deluded
Tinypaw - 6-Feb-17 @ 3:26 PM
Rig man 108 - Your Question:
If a parent adopts a child from abroad, till what age do they have legal power and responsibility over the child. Once the child becomes 18 is he able to live on his own as a citizen?

Our Response:
Yes it's usually 18 years of age although there are some things you can be responsible for at the age of 16.
AboutHumanRights - 30-Jan-17 @ 10:30 AM
Hi As a 10 year old I was adopted by my stepdad. My real dad lived in HongKong at the time and consented to the adoption. Ten years later my real dad came back into my life, we have a really strong relationship. My question is my birth certificate states my stepdad as my dad , his name is also on my marriage certificate. Can I have them changed to show my real dad as my dad and not my stepdad. I am now 52 years old, even though I am now married and have a completely different name I cannot put into words how unhappy it makes me feel having someone else's name on my birth certificate other than my real dad. I don't have a relationship with my step father , even when asked at ten years old if I was happy to take his name , on the inside I wanted to scream no , but was not courageous enough to say what I was feeling. Hope someone can help Thank you .
DG - 29-Jan-17 @ 3:34 PM
If a parent adopts a child from abroad, till what age do they have legal power and responsibility over the child. Once the child becomes 18 is he able to live on his own as a citizen?
Rig man 108 - 29-Jan-17 @ 1:33 AM
my grandsons father was adopted by his aunt and uncle wen he was only little. are his adoptive parents legally classed as grandparents to his biological son????
ang - 13-Jan-17 @ 2:07 AM
aphrodite - Your Question:
I was married to a 'serial adulterer', and after 7 years of marriaage, I fell in love and had an affair with another man. A year later I had a child and was never 100% sure if the child was biolically my husbands or my lover's, though my husband accepted the child as his own. Over the years I occasionally kept touch with my ex-lover and gave him information and photos of the child. After 12 years of marriage, I divorced my husband, due to his persistant adultery! I later remarried and moved away from the area. My new husband legally adopted my child and as we were not known where we now lived we felt there was no need for the child to know who the 'biological' father was. However, the' child' is now middle-aged and my ex-lover decided, against my express wishes, to contact my 'child'. He had always been cerrtain the child was his, and as a direct result of his contact and disclosure that he was the biological father, my 'child' has now disowned my husband and I, and has expressed the wish not to have any more to do with us! Please can you tell me if I have any recourse against my ex-lover for destroying our lives?

Our Response:
You'd need to seek professional legal advice about this really.
AboutHumanRights - 6-Jan-17 @ 12:58 PM
I was married to a 'serial adulterer', and after 7 years of marriaage, I fell in love and had an affair with another man. A year later I had a child and was never 100% sure if the child was biolically my husbands or my lover's, though my husband accepted the child as his own. Over the years I occasionally kept touch with my ex-lover and gave him information and photos of the child. After 12 years of marriage, I divorced my husband, due to his persistant adultery! I later remarried and moved away from the area. My new husband legally adopted my child and as we were not known where we now lived we felt there was no need for the child to know who the 'biological' father was. However, the' child' is now middle-aged and my ex-lover decided, against my express wishes, to contact my 'child'. He had always been cerrtain the child was his, and as a direct result of his contact and disclosure that he was the biological father, my 'child' has now disowned my husband and I, and has expressed the wish not to have any more to do with us! Please can you tell me if I have any recourse against my ex-lover for destroying our lives?
aphrodite - 5-Jan-17 @ 4:14 PM
I'm 13 and I'm adopted, and have been since the age of 2. My brother lives with my biological nan, but I've been told I'm not allowed any contact with any of my biological family. I really want to meet my nan, and I should be allowed to through a contact centre, but all my requests from this have been declined. But surely I should be allowed to see my family through contact centres?
Chenice - 18-Dec-16 @ 5:43 PM
My partner was adopted at birth in 1978 and he asked for his adoption file, he was told that there was no record of him being adopted and it took our local mp stepping in for social services to finally admit that they did have his file. His file contained apricametly 6-7 a 4 sheets of paper with lots of details different on one to the others eg date of birth was stated as the one he had always believed and then on another page it was the same date and year but the month was two months earlier, his birth mothers age was different on two pages and questions meant to be asked to his father on one page it stated father unknown and on others it says father gave answers. As you can imagine he is now more confused than ever, he tried to contact his mother but unfortunately her and her parents were not willing to give him straight answers to any of the questions he asked an he's desperate to find out what the truth is, why the social services didn't want to give him his file, why his file is so thin and we really don't know where to start to get any of this information. Can anyone suggest what steps we can try ? He has no faith in the social services and is scared that there is some thing horrible that they have tried to cover up. It's made him ill and he's struggling to understand why his file was so hard to get, he'd like to know if there's anyway he can find out what forms he should of expected to see in his file and how he can find out why his didn't have them in. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Clare - 7-Dec-16 @ 11:32 PM
My daughteris in foster care.but there socialservicesrecommendedto their court that she's not gonna come back in my care even to her dad care.so they are recommendedto their adaption.but there we don't have final court yet.and it's goin to finish on January. So please I need for your commentswith my problem.
Fatmir007 - 29-Nov-16 @ 2:29 PM
I have recently turned 16 and I live in the U.K. At this age do I have the right to request to see my birth family or do I have to wait 2 more years
Eleishep - 27-Nov-16 @ 12:23 AM
My husbands daughter was taken when she was 3 years old. She is now 14 and reached out to her father. She told him she wanted to see him. He explained that he would love to but he would have to talk to her mom (adopted mom) and make sure it be alright with her. We had to have a friend call and talk to the adopted mom because she only soeaks spanish. She said we could see his daughter but we would have to do it the legal way? I have all ready talk to a attorney and he said as long as its ok with the adopted parent then thats all we need? So my question is what does she mean by legal way? Theres nothing to be done legally?
Tee - 26-Nov-16 @ 2:59 AM
Hi my husband received news that his birth father had passed away & that there was a large sum in probate which he & his late sisters daughter may be entitled to - however, my husbands mother remarried when he was 10 & there is an adoption certificate for my husbands late sister with his stepdads name on so my husband may have been adopted by him also - I have 4) questions - 1) if probate aren't aware that this certificate exists would it matter 2) would my husband be eligible to claim against the estate & receive a share 3) how does my husband find out if there is an adoption certificate for him 4) is it classed as full adoption & would legal ties be removed from his birth dads estate when he wouldn't need to be adopted by his mother as she is his birth mother, please advise
Shanya - 24-Nov-16 @ 10:40 PM
Harlyquinn87 - Your Question:
Question:I'm looking to adopt twins my biological children (due to relationship breakdown) father has got social services involved they are on the child protection register (I myself was on it until I turned 16 ssh was involved with me through out my childhood) does this stop me having the right to adopt? I'm doing a lot of research before I do anything

Our Response:
It doesn't necessarily prevent you from adopting, but any adoption agency will certainly do a thorough investigation before allowing it to go ahead. It's not clear whether you're wanting to actually adopt your biological children..which isn't necessary as you'd just apply for a residency order etc.
AboutHumanRights - 22-Nov-16 @ 11:48 AM
Question:I'm looking to adopt twins my biological children (due to relationship breakdown) father has got social services involved they are on the child protection register(I myself was on it until I turned 16 ssh was involved with me through out my childhood) does this stop me having the right to adopt? I'm doing a lot of research before I do anything
Harlyquinn87 - 21-Nov-16 @ 5:56 PM
Hi I have had my son removed from my care and been put up for voluntery adoption, I am wanting to move america and still get letters once a year and been told I can not have childrented for 10 years just wondering how this would affect my move and if anything is changed in the differnce of the laws
Zlp95 - 20-Nov-16 @ 9:57 PM
All you people that have had your child adopted, through WHATEVER reason, need to stop referring to them as YOUR child. They are adopted. And will contact you if they want to when they become of age, they are not in care. They are ADOPTED!!! Therefor will no doubt have a very loving home and don't need any more upheaval.
Zeze - 1-Nov-16 @ 6:50 PM
My daughter got adopted at 7months old due to my father sexually abusing me as a child I'm just wondering 1) can I put from mummy in the letter 2) are social services aloud to read the letters and 3) can I get them done if they don't give them to her.
Cuchi - 22-Oct-16 @ 9:11 PM
Court - Your Question:
My siblings where adopted by their aunt on their fathers side of the family back in 2005-2006 which I can not see or talk to. She tells me it has been 10years and to let it go. I tried to tell her I was a kid for 6 of those years and couldnt find hear till now for the rest. I beleive she is being unfair to me and my other sinlings because of what our parents did. We suffered just as much as them but atleaset they had us to help as much as we could. I loved those kids as if they came out of me. I started missing school, dropping grades, and became a mother all at a young age trying to care for my mothers younger children. my question is. Is it ok to keep the older siblings out of the younger siblings life.even though they had nothing to do with the situation

Our Response:
Sometimes it's decided that this is for the best, but usually an adoption agency will make every effort to keep siblings in touch with each other.You can make contact with them once they are 18 if that's what they want.
AboutHumanRights - 20-Oct-16 @ 2:27 PM
My siblings where adopted by their aunt on their fathers side of the family back in 2005-2006 which i can not see or talk to. She tells me it has been 10years and to let it go. I tried to tell her i was a kid for6 of those years and couldnt find hear till now for the rest. I beleive she is being unfair to me and my other sinlings because of what our parents did. We suffered just as much as them but atleaset they had us to help as much as we could. I loved those kids as if they came out of me. I started missing school, dropping grades, and became a mother all at a young age trying to care for my mothers younger children . my question is. Is it ok to keep the older siblings out of the younger siblings life...even though they had nothing to do with the situation
Court - 18-Oct-16 @ 8:31 PM
My daughter was adopted when she was 2, I have received letter box contact but how do I request a picture? Do I ask her adoptive parents or the social worker?
Rebekkah19 - 17-Oct-16 @ 4:32 PM
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