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Human Rights and Adopted Children

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 19 May 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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As an adoptee I understand that adoption in and of itself is a violation of a number of rights of the child. Especially I fell that the disinheritance of adoptees is a gross violation and punishment. Why should we have ALL our legal rights to our own families completely removed? We have done nothing wrong. As an adoptee I do not even have access to Family Provision legislation which would allow me to claim on my biological parents estate, whom I have had reunion with for now over 20 years, if I am left destitute. To argue that my inheritance rights have simple been "swapped" to my adoptive family is false: children under the care of non-biolgocally related adults already have a right to be provided for form the estate if they are in need. This right has merely been "enhanced" to become the "automatic" right to inherit of a child. This enhancement is NOT the same rights to inherit that have been absolutely taken from me - my full right to inherit off my own mother and father's estate. The only other class of persons disinherited by the State are murdered of their parents who aren't allowed to inherit and profit from their crime. It shocks me to hear that the "right to found a family" includes a "right to adopt." Is this REALLY true? How can you have a human right OVER ME - over another human being? That creates an obligation for a child somewhere to be severed from their family so they can provide themselves as fulfilment of your right to adopt. There is "access to adoption" but I don't see how you can have a right to adopt - that is tantamount to slavery as it is almost impossible for us to exit our own adoptions despite NEVER CONSENTING TO THEM. Adoption in and of itself is discriminatory and is a leftover form of servitude that must be reformed out of existence. We can give consistent loving care to children with disinheriting them, severing all their rights to their own families, trapping them in adoptions without their consent, and not providing welfare checks on their progress in the homes on non-biolgocally related strangers. Open records and open adoptions are merely the first step to making us equal citizens. Then there is the rest.
CML - 19-May-17 @ 9:25 AM
I was adopted in 1972 by two English people. My biological father was Spanish and my biological mother was English. Do I still have the right to claim Spanish citizenship? Spain confer the right to citizenship if one of your parents was Spanish, even if you were born abroad. Does this still apply to adopted people?
David - 18-May-17 @ 7:58 PM
Emily - Your Question:
Hi there, I am 20 years old and my parents split up just after I was born. My father remarried 5 years ago to a woman that he has now been with for 17 years. I no longer get along with my mother and wanted to ask my stepmother to adopt me. As she is a brilliant mother figure to me and always has been, I have done some research and found that legally she can't. What else can I do?

Our Response:
There isn't anything else you can do really except to treat her as your natural mother...a "label" shouldn't make much difference to your relationship.
AboutHumanRights - 17-May-17 @ 11:59 AM
Hi there, I am 20 years old and my parents split up just after I was born. My father remarried 5 years ago to a woman that he has now been with for 17 years. I no longer get along with my mother and wanted to ask my stepmother to adopt me. As she is a brilliant mother figure to me and always has been, I have done some research and found that legally she can't. What else can I do?
Emily - 16-May-17 @ 12:41 AM
hi i had my son adopted by social services two years ago i was never charged with anything nore have i heard. anything from social services in almost a year and half my partner wants to try for another child my question is if we had another child together would social services be able to intervene and take the child away from us again
liam - 13-May-17 @ 4:32 PM
Jenny - Your Question:
My mum had a son whom she put up for adoption in the 1960's. Do I have the right to look for him?

Our Response:
Yes, there is nothing stopping you from looking, but your brother/half brother doesn't have to agree to contact with you etc.
AboutHumanRights - 11-May-17 @ 11:44 AM
Karen - Your Question:
I have a grandchild he is going to be adopted his mum died but I can never see him till he is old enough I am heart broken I can't afford to take it to court is there anything I can do.

Our Response:
Many adoption agencies will involve families if they are willing and if the adoptive families agree? Have you been in touch with them?
AboutHumanRights - 10-May-17 @ 12:35 PM
My mum had a son whom she put up for adoption in the 1960's. Do I have the right to look for him?
Jenny - 9-May-17 @ 9:38 PM
I have a grandchild he is going to be adopted his mum died but I can never see him till he is old enough I am heart broken I can't afford to take it to court is there anything I can do.
Karen - 9-May-17 @ 2:22 PM
Hi I had my three children adopted on 2015 I get letter boxing now I've had a other baby and she got tooling away at birth I'm still trying to get her home but I was wondering if I fell pregnant again and I moved somewhere else could they still take that baby away from me my kids only got rooming away because I was in a bad abusive realiship and I was depressed
Marie - 24-Apr-17 @ 7:49 PM
Hi I had 2 children adopted but I have only just found out I wasn't able to contact them due to the foster carers not giving me an address is this legal
Steve - 21-Apr-17 @ 7:57 AM
Cpee3 - Your Question:
HiI was adopted in the early 80's.I was put in care due to police finding me with bruises all over my body(aged 2 or 3). I went to children's homes and foster care.I was eventually adopted at the age of about 9 or 10, due to my birth mother wanting me back. (She was and still is a heroin addict, prostitution was also a part of the equation)I was finally adopted by a lady , no husband but older children, who was abusive and disaplined me with slippers and belts.I was once sexually (not once) abused by a friend of her family. Luckily , but not lucky for me , he was caught in the act. The unlucky part for me is that my "mother" took me home and beat me terribly with the belt! I was no older than 10! My adopted mother then followed to kick me out of her house at 17!So, to the point.I have received my adoption records and after reviewing them.They state that there was a white family (mother & father) that wanted to adopt me. I was moved to a black mother (single) that physically and emotionally abused me.Should I have had support from social services when she kicked me out until 18 ?Was it down to me to advise social services of this ?Have I been let down by social services ?Ps , im nearly 40 and starting to fight my alcohol dependencey since the age of 17.Thanks crew!

Our Response:
Nowadays social services would support you until the age of 18 but we don't know what the policies were in the 80s. You can still report historical sexual abuse to the police. There are organisations that can help adult victims of child abuse, try NAPAC to start with.
AboutHumanRights - 12-Apr-17 @ 2:26 PM
Mouse - Your Question:
I had 2 children adopted 14 yes ago !Y son is 17 my daughter is 15 I had a break down and I was very vulnerable and I was in a bad place and bad people coming into my home I have 3 older children 2 of them was fostered and my oldest was getting into alot of trouble with police which didn't help I miss my 2 youngest I have letter box intact but I want to see them I have got rights as a birth parent I think or don't i

Our Response:
No, you cannot apply to make actual contact with them until they have turned 18.
AboutHumanRights - 12-Apr-17 @ 12:52 PM
Hi I was adopted in the early 80's. I was put in care due to police finding me with bruises all over my body(aged 2 or 3). I went to children's homes and foster care. I was eventually adopted at the age of about 9 or 10, due to my birth mother wanting me back. (She was and still is a heroin addict, prostitution was also a part of the equation) I was finally adopted by a lady , no husband but older children, who was abusive and disaplined me with slippers and belts. I was once sexually (not once) abused by a friend of her family. Luckily , but not lucky for me , he was caught in the act. The unlucky part for me is that my "mother" took me home and beat me terribly with the belt! I was no older than 10! My adopted mother then followed to kick me out of her house at 17! So, to the point. I have received my adoption records and after reviewing them. They state that there was a white family (mother & father) that wanted to adopt me. I was moved to a black mother (single) that physically and emotionally abused me. Should I have had support from social services when she kicked me out until 18 ?. Was it down to me to advise social services of this ? Have I been let down by social services ? Ps , im nearly 40 and starting to fight my alcohol dependencey since the age of 17. Thanks crew!
Cpee3 - 11-Apr-17 @ 12:07 PM
I had 2 children adopted14 yes ago !Y son is 17 my daughter is 15 i had a break down and i was very vulnerable and i was in a bad place and bad people coming into my home i have 3 older children 2 of them was fostered and my oldest was getting into alot of trouble with police which didn't help i miss my 2 youngest i have letter box intact but i want to see them i have got rights as a birth parent i think or don't i
Mouse - 11-Apr-17 @ 10:00 AM
I have a friend who had a little girl and they took her away at birth, she named her Joanne and would be around 36 now. She wants to find her but has no contacts, she had her in mill road Liverpool hospital but her mum has died so can not tell her anything, has anyone any information to how to find her?
Jay - 5-Apr-17 @ 11:42 PM
Peter - Your Question:
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.

Our Response:
The best thing to do first is to tell an adult that he trusts such as a teacher. He can also call Childline number on 0800 1111
AboutHumanRights - 30-Mar-17 @ 10:56 AM
Milly - Your Question:
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

Our Response:
This is a really difficult situation but we can't really offer any constructive advice. In generalthe natural parents lose all rights once they've given up their children for adoption. Can you call the NSPCC or Childline about this? Just to be sure the children are safe? Once the children are 16 social services or the relevant adoption agency may be able to facilitate contact and at 18 of course they can do as they like.
AboutHumanRights - 30-Mar-17 @ 10:16 AM
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
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