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Human Rights and Adopted Children

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 24 Oct 2020 | 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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My daughter is adopted and just turned 16years old. Are there any court orders I can apply to have contact with her? Does she have the right to express her wishes at 16 years old. Does she have the right to have contact before 18yrs? Any advice?
Mersadiez - 24-Oct-20 @ 11:59 PM
I am 62. My mother was my biological mother and my father adopted me when I was 6. I have never known and never want to know my biological father. Mom died in June 2019 and dad died in 2020. I am an only child. They did not leave a will. I have now applied for probate. After 14 weeks I have chased the application up to find that it is a "complicated" case because of the adoption. Why? Dad was my father. He was the only father I recognise. Why is it that I am made to feel an outcast. After the trauma of losing both my parents inside a year am I being treated like this. I applied for a passport 12 years ago and I was asked for a birth certificate. I went to my local council and was told that because I was adopted I had to apply online elsewhere and pay extra. My daughter tried to access her ancestry online and had problems because her father (me) was adopted. I have never felt so low and suicidal in my life as I do right now
davo - 5-Oct-20 @ 6:54 PM
Hi I have an adopted brother who is now 10 he was adopted at 5-6him and my sister was both in foster care she was Sent to live with family and he was adopted we have letter contact of updates of how he’s doing in life but all we want is a photograph of him (me and my sister not his biological parents) they refused to send us one is that illegal as it wasnt our fault he was adopted.
Sammycee - 28-Sep-20 @ 8:17 PM
My son is 7 and his younger sister on his dads side was adopted when she was a baby (she's now 5) am I better telling my son about his sister or do I leave it untill hes older x
Becky - 25-Sep-20 @ 9:48 AM
I was born in a Salvation Army unmarried mothers home and adopted. The SA have my records with birth father & mothers names. They will not give me these names. Is this legal and how can I fight this as I have the right to know?
Karen - 17-Sep-20 @ 1:29 AM
Can an adoptive parent control their child’s relationships if that child is 15?
Ash - 6-Sep-20 @ 12:05 AM
I wandering where are the humanrights of the biologicalparents that did not give consent for their loved and wanted childrenwhere are our right as abiologicalmothers who have to live in constant pain of losing their children to adoption Mother that have natural motherly instincts for their children we are daily living in fear for our missing childrenfearing they could be harmed and abused or even become seriously I'llwhere are the human rights for hurting parentsthat have had their babies cruelly taken for fouced adoption....
Bam - 19-Aug-20 @ 1:34 AM
My daughter now 15 has got 2 brother 3 sisters all adopted b4 she was born the youngest of 5 now 16 has contacted her through social media can the get into trouble if they meet up
Parko - 4-Aug-20 @ 10:40 PM
I’m 17 and have been in contact with my biological parents for about 6 months, we both want to meet. Is this legal?
Anna - 8-Jul-20 @ 9:23 PM
My dads son (my half brother) was adopted before I was born meaning I’ve never met him. I’m now 18 and he’s in his 20s. Can I contact him or is that illegal? I’m not sure if I’m allowed to contact him through social media or not? Any advice?
Hol - 29-Jun-20 @ 7:39 PM
hi can a 16 year old in Devon have any chance in finding her birth parents before shes 18? if your adopted guardian agreed this was okay?
angel - 4-May-20 @ 8:30 PM
I have recently found my adopted biological cousin, he’s 18, but my also adopted biological cousin who’s 15 has been found too and has contacted us, can we get in trouble for contacting back because they are not 18 yet? Or are we legally aloud to contact them because we are not their bitthy mother and we didn’t give them up?
Kc - 10-Feb-20 @ 10:08 PM
I ve got a daughter who is 18 years old who got forcefully adopted at the age of 6 year old i want to see her but someone told her that I said something bad about her adoptive parents which I never did and now she won’t see me or accept letters or cards I want every thing putting right so I can tell her the truth is there anywhere we can go as adoption agency don’t want to know
Pas - 5-Jan-20 @ 9:52 AM
lost 2 of my 2 grandkids to forced adoption had a barrister god knows why first time i met her she said she will put a muzzle on my face if i dont shut up had iro social worker laugh at me at court child pysìo was playing with his tie laughing fostercarer shouted at me in contact with grandkids where s the justice i guess there isnt any
coco - 28-Nov-19 @ 8:14 PM
Hi, I’m looking on advice as I would love to see my adopted sister, sadly she was adopted when I was 13, she was 2.. I’m now 27 I’ve written to social services but never get anywhere Any helpful advice would be appreciated
BenGreen91 - 16-Oct-19 @ 5:56 PM
Recently my partner and I (both EU citizens living in the UK) adopted in England a child born in the UK in 2017 (to a British birth mother). I have Permanent Residency (PR) status obtained in 2013. I recently applied for a British passport for my daughter on my PR status and today I received a letter saying my passport application for her was rejected as "it would appear that she is not a British nationals". I contacted the Passport Office and asked them why - they mentioned: "When you adopt a child, the child's nationality will go on the adopted parents. The adopted parents must British citizenship through there own right, not through Indefinite leave to remain or Treaty rights." They also told me if she were my biological daughter, there wouldn't be any issue and passport application would have been granted. They advised me to contact the Home Office - as they would provide the correct information-, and Home Office told me with the info provided about my daughter and my PR status, the child would be automatically a British national and should be treated the same way, independently if she is my daughter by adoption or by birth. But after contacting Passport Office again, I was told theinformation provided by the Home Office was incorrect. I'm bewildered as once my child was legally adopted, I always thought she would have the same right as a biological child. And I cannot believe adopted children have different rights to biological children as that would be discrimination. Previously to the adoption, Social Services applied for a passport but they were asked to provided birth grandfather's birth and marriage certificates, information and documents they couldn't find so application didn't go ahead. So we cannot go down that route either. Could anyone shed some light in this matter? What would my daughter's rights be? Is she entitled to a British passport through my PR status? Many thanks!
Bembe - 1-Oct-19 @ 10:34 PM
Recently my partner and I (both EU citizens living in the UK) adopted in England a child born in the UK in 2017 (to a British birth mother). I have Permanent Residency (PR) status obtained in 2013. I recently applied for a British passport for my daughter on the basis of my PR status and today I received a letter saying my passport application for her was rejected as "it would appear that she is not a British nationals". I contacted the Passport Office and asked them why - they mentioned: "When you adopt a child, the child's nationality will go on the adopted parents. The adopted parents must British citizenship through there own right, not through Indefinite leave to remain or Treaty rights." They also told me if she were my biological daughter, there wouldn't be any issue and passport application would have been granted. They advised me to contact the Home Office - as they would provide the correct information-, and Home Office told me with the info provided about my daughter and my PR status, the child would be automatically a British national and should be treated the same way, independently if she is my daughter by adoption or by birth. But after contacting Passport Office again, I was told theinformation provided by the Home Office was incorrect. I'm bewildered as once my child was legally adopted, I always thought she would have the same right as a biological child. And I cannot believe adopted children have different rights to biological children as that would be discrimination. Previously to the adoption, Social Services applied for a passport but they were asked to provided birth grandfather's birth and marriage certificates, information and documents they couldn't find so application didn't go ahead. So we cannot go down that route either. Could anyone shed some light in this matter? What would my daughter's rights be? Is she entitled to a British passport through my PR status? Many thanks!
Bembe - 1-Oct-19 @ 10:33 PM
Both my children got forced adopted in 2015 and I got told I would recieve photos and letters once a year in September but last year without no one informing me the photos got stopped in court by the adopted family! And this has made me wonder why as it isnt allowed to happen I need help with this on how I go about getting my children's photos again thanks x
Joesy27 - 21-Sep-19 @ 10:22 AM
My children were forced into Foster care. If your reading this I'm probably now dead! The situation is driving me to suicide.
SUICIDALSOLDIER - 18-Sep-19 @ 8:21 PM
Hiya,ive got 4 son's, my older 2 are in foster care while my youger 2 are about to be adopted.I wondered if I could meet the adoption parents?Thanks
steph - 5-Jun-19 @ 3:23 AM
As a single parent to my 7yr old son, he was taken from me and made subject of a forced adoption. Sometime after this I simply could not cope and asked my doctor for help. All details relating to the loss of my son were disclosed as being the cause which required medical assistance. Historic medical letters identify the loss of my son and a report clearly identifies the loss of my son is the reason I needed medical assistance. After assurances the loss of my son was the focus of treatment I was placed on medication mirtazipine 45mg. I was made to take this medication everyday for 4 yrs. the counselling I had constantly requested had not been provided however and after attending for these 4 yrs I made request to access records. I was horrified to discover my doctor had totally omitted all mention of my sons existence and of the reason I had attended for help in the first place. My medical records are false and dishonest. Can the authorities deny your child ever existed following an adoption or should my doctor have recorded the full true facts?
Smashit - 11-Jan-19 @ 2:45 AM
My baby has been adopted and the court has said that I can have photos and drawings twice a year but the social worker for the adoption has said I am not allowed them what are my rights
Sj - 30-Nov-18 @ 2:20 PM
My sons half sister was adopted i was wandering if he has any contact rights like in letter form? His half sister is younger than him and is his fathers daughter, my son has no contact with his biological father and has not seen him since 2008, in the last couple of years we have been told he has a half sister who was born in 2008 but was adopted. I am at a cross roads now so any help is very much appreciated. Thank you
Mummajules - 2-Oct-18 @ 12:33 PM
At a recent interview my adoption certificate was refused and I was asked to supply a proper birth certificate as prof of identification. I hold neither passport or driving licence and the compliance rules have gone mad. Does this mean I no longer exist?
Debbie - 19-Sep-18 @ 12:36 PM
A stepdad who is in the process of getting citizenship in the uk wants to adopt his stepdaughter who have been living as a ‘step family’ for 3-4 years, she now has a half-brother! The biological father is a terrible man who has been banned from coming near the child through a restraining order. Would he be able to adopt her? Would she be able to change her last name if she’s under 18?
Someone looking for - 3-Sep-18 @ 9:41 PM
Hi, I was adopted in 1969. I have found my birth mother who does not want to keep in touch with me. My birth father was named on my adoption paperwork but is not named on my birth certificate.I have discovered that my birth father was also adopted, but he will not communicate with me.Do I have any rights to obtain my birth fathers original birth certificate to find out my family history?
David - 1-Sep-18 @ 8:09 AM
VINNY - Your Question:
2 boys 2 different nationalities. boy A's mother married to step father different nationality she died and boy A was left with him. He lived with him for thirty years without formal adoption. Authorities now want to deport him back to mothers place of birth. boy A does not know anyone nor relatives of his mother nor speak native tongue. brought up in school with step father. now adult over 18years cannot be adopted. No passport, medical free cannot get job fear of deportation. however used step fathers surname since his mother married his step father. the other boy B same family left him behind because he was very sick in hospital and his family flew to another country for job interview.boy A now 18 cannot qualify to be adopted. authorities want to deport same everything with B same as A both boys consider themselves brothers. help

Our Response:
Which country?
AboutHumanRights - 29-Aug-18 @ 9:49 AM
2 boys 2 different nationalities. boy A's mother married to step father different nationality she died and boy A was left with him. He lived with him for thirty years without formal adoption. Authorities now want to deport him back to mothers place of birth. boy A does not know anyone nor relatives of his mother nor speak native tongue. brought up in school with step father. now adult over 18years cannot be adopted. No passport, medical free cannot get job fear of deportation. however used step fathers surname since his mother married his step father. the other boy B same family left him behind because he was very sick in hospital and his family flew to another country for job interview.boy A now 18 cannot qualify to be adopted. authorities want to deport same everything with B same as A both boys consider themselves brothers. help
VINNY - 26-Aug-18 @ 6:03 AM
Rocinante1966 - Your Question:
I was adopted at 5 weeks old back in 1966. I would like to see the entire contents of my adoption file, rather than just a summary, which is lodged with Oldham Social Services. What is my legal status in this matter. Thanks

Our Response:
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 allows you, as an adopted adult to obtain your birth record information in order to obtain a copy of your birth certificate.You can request full information from your adoption file but an Adoption Agency can exercise discretion detailed in the Adoption Act Regulations 1983 15(2) (a) to decide what information to release to you. You cannot insist on a subject access disclosure under section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 as adoption records and reports are exempted from this under the data protection (Miscellaneous Subject Access Exemptions) Order 2000.
AboutHumanRights - 24-Aug-18 @ 12:05 PM
I was adopted at 5 weeks old back in 1966. I would like to see the entire contents of my adoption file, rather than just a summary, which is lodged with Oldham Social Services. What is my legal status in this matter. Thanks
Rocinante1966 - 21-Aug-18 @ 6:06 PM
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