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Human Rights and Adopted Children

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 9 Apr 2022 | 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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Hi all 3 my children been adopted. There birth father died recently. 1 of the adopted couple have been notified for 2 of thechildren. My 1st born adopted parents have disappeared with him & not left social services a forwarding address. He's now 19 & we are all looking for him .this is so wrong as he's a right to know about his dad .& a right to have contact with me his mum if he wishes to .
Tizzy - 9-Apr-22 @ 5:13 PM
My children were adopted at birth. Ihad letterbox contact which was stopped 4 year ago and know i am woorried about them coz i have no contact. i would like birth parents to have more rights and to be informed about any important info if ill or died the mother has a right to know.
hari - 10-Jun-21 @ 11:10 AM
Given that my father did not even know of my existence, let alone agree to the adoption, I do not see why I am prevented from inheriting at least part of his estate and having a few of his personal possessions even for sentimental value. Shouldn't I be seen as an illegitimate or non-marital child in respect of my father's estate and adopted out child in respect of my biological mother's? She applied for me to be placed for adoption - he did not - and no-one sought to contact him although they had the details to do so.If I was treated as an illegitimate or non-marital child I would at least have a discretionary interest, whereas now, my relationship is not even recognied and is treated as nothing which is upsetting. Obviously I am also feel betrayed by my Aunts shameful conduct, (I knew the family well and we met on several occasions over 30 years- and they also knew well how close me, my father and my children were to him - but I feel totally totally disrespected and devalued by the Law - who I feel should protect people in my position.. How can it be that a man who treated me as a son as soon as he was aware of my existence and able to do so - (plenty of evidence of that) - should be treated differently when it comes to his estate. Of course, this situation would not even arise if my aunt's family not removed the Will - but I still feel I that I am being discriminated against - whereas others seem to view my reaction as being presumptious - whereas it actually confirms the rejection and distress that adopted people know so well. Why would the court take the side of an acquisitional millionaire Aunt rather than a deceased's only child and family of very modest means? Any ideas appreciated..
Felix - 6-Jun-21 @ 4:40 PM
Given that my father did not even know of my existence, let alone agree to the adoption, I do not see why I am prevented from inheriting at least part of his estate and having a few of his personal possessions even for sentimental value. Shouldn't I be seen as an illegitimate or non-marital child in respect of my father's estate and adopted out child in respect of my biological mother's? She applied for me to be placed for adoption - he did not - and no-one sought to contact him although they had the details to do so.If I was treated as an illegitimate or non-marital child I would at least have a discretionary interest, whereas now, my relationship is not even recognied and is treated as nothing which is upsetting. Obviously I am also feel betrayed by my Aunts shameful conduct, (I knew the family well and we met on several occasions over 30 years- and they also knew well how close me, my father and my children were to him - but I feel totally totally disrespected and devalued by the Law - who I feel should protect people in my position.. How can it be that a man who treated me as a son as soon as he was aware of my existence and able to do so - (plenty of evidence of that) - should be treated differently when it comes to his estate. Of course, this situation would not even arise if my aunt's family not removed the Will - but I still feel I that I am being discriminated against - whereas others seem to view my reaction as being presumptious - whereas it actually confirms the rejection and distress that adopted people know so well. Why would the court take the side of an acquisitional millionaire Aunt rather than a deceased's only child and family of very modest means? Any ideas appreciated..
Felix - 6-Jun-21 @ 4:38 PM
Hi, I was adopted out in the UK in 1960. My biological mother (EC) met my biological father (DO'D) - an American studying in Ireland. EC ended the relationship without telling him she was pregnant. She then went to the UK (concealing her pregnancy even from her own family) and gave me up for adoption. I was adopted by unrelated persons. Adoption agency records confirm she told them who my father was and stated that he was unaware of my existence. When I traced my Biological Mother in 1988, she finally agreed to place an advert in a newspaper in Cork, Ireland to which one of DO'D's relatives responded and ultimately DO'D got in contact with EC. EC only put me in contact with him after she had travelled to New York (where he lived) to meet him and belatedly tell him of my existence and the adoption. We then had a close relationship over 30 years until he died in in 2018. This involved regular visits of me/him/my family to the USA, UK and Ireland. He referred to me as his son and my children as his grandchildren. He told me he had included provision for me in his Will but sadly (but perhaps predictably, I was very naive) this has gone missing. His only sister applied to administer his intestate estate and also specifically applied for me to be disinherited. She told the court that she was following her brother's interests!! This was very upsetting for me. D'OD phoned/skyped me almost on a weekly basis and I have recorded messages and photos which make it clear that we had a very close relationships. Although there was some remaining evidence that he had written a Will I was unable to trace an original or even a copy and neither was one filed with the Surrogacy Court because immediately after his funeral his sister's family removed all of his personal and private papers from his apartment. They denied there was a Will among them and have still not given me even copies of his photos or correspondence etc..The NY probate courtrefused to require the sister (deemed administrator and fiduciary) to disclose/provide access to his computer records/emails (*) which would have otherwise almost certainly disclosed identity/whereabouts of his Attorneys and any home made wills - which he told me, my family and his close friends (Attorneys, Court Clerks etc..) he had made. (* the sister had previously agreed via her attorney before the court to share the papers and agree inspection of computers). Ultimately the court relied on§ 117 DRL of New York State Law which states that as an "adopted-out" person I have no interest in my father's intestate estate and that it should be left entirely to his sister. Given that my father did not even know of my existence, let alone agree to the adoption, I do not see why I am prevented from inheriting at least part of his estate and having a few of his personal possessions even for sentimental value. Shouldn't I be seen as an illegitimate or non-marital child in respect of my father's estate and adop
Felix - 6-Jun-21 @ 4:30 PM
Hi, I was adopted out in the UK in 1960. My biological mother (EC) met my biological father (DO'D) - an American studying in Ireland. EC ended the relationship without telling him she was pregnant. She then went to the UK (concealing her pregnancy even from her own family) and gave me up for adoption. I was adopted by unrelated persons. Adoption agency records confirm she told them who my father was and stated that he was unaware of my existence. When I traced my Biological Mother in 1988, she finally agreed to place an advert in a newspaper in Cork, Ireland to which one of DO'D's relatives responded and ultimately DO'D got in contact with EC. EC only put me in contact with him after she had travelled to New York (where he lived) to meet him and belatedly tell him of my existence and the adoption. We then had a close relationship over 30 years until he died in in 2018. This involved regular visits of me/him/my family to the USA, UK and Ireland. He referred to me as his son and my children as his grandchildren. He told me he had included provision for me in his Will but sadly (but perhaps predictably, I was very naive) this has gone missing. His only sister applied to administer his intestate estate and also specifically applied for me to be disinherited. She told the court that she was following her brother's interests!! This was very upsetting for me. D'OD phoned/skyped me almost on a weekly basis and I have recorded messages and photos which make it clear that we had a very close relationships. Although there was some remaining evidence that he had written a Will I was unable to trace an original or even a copy and neither was one filed with the Surrogacy Court because immediately after his funeral his sister's family removed all of his personal and private papers from his apartment. They denied there was a Will among them and have still not given me even copies of his photos or correspondence etc..The NY probate courtrefused to require the sister (deemed administrator and fiduciary) to disclose/provide access to his computer records/emails (*) which would have otherwise almost certainly disclosed identity/whereabouts of his Attorneys and any home made wills - which he told me, my family and his close friends (Attorneys, Court Clerks etc..) he had made. (* the sister had previously agreed via her attorney before the court to share the papers and agree inspection of computers). Ultimately the court relied on§ 117 DRL of New York State Law which states that as an "adopted-out" person I have no interest in my father's intestate estate and that it should be left entirely to his sister. Given that my father did not even know of my existence, let alone agree to the adoption, I do not see why I am prevented from inheriting at least part of his estate and having a few of his personal possessions even for sentimental value. Shouldn't I be seen as an illegitimate or non-marital child in respect of my father's estate and adop
Felix - 6-Jun-21 @ 4:29 PM
Hi, I was adopted out in the UK in 1960. My biological mother (EC) met my biological father (DO'D) - an American studying in Ireland. EC ended the relationship without telling him she was pregnant. She then went to the UK (concealing her pregnancy even from her own family) and gave me up for adoption. I was adopted by unrelated persons. Adoption agency records confirm she told them who my father was and stated that he was unaware of my existence. When I traced my Biological Mother in 1988, she finally agreed to place an advert in a newspaper in Cork, Ireland to which one of DO'D's relatives responded and ultimately DO'D got in contact with EC. EC only put me in contact with him after she had travelled to New York (where he lived) to meet him and belatedly tell him of my existence and the adoption. We then had a close relationship over 30 years until he died in in 2018. This involved regular visits of me/him/my family to the USA, UK and Ireland. He referred to me as his son and my children as his grandchildren. He told me he had included provision for me in his Will but sadly (but perhaps predictably, I was very naive) this has gone missing. His only sister applied to administer his intestate estate and also specifically applied for me to be disinherited. She told the court that she was following her brother's interests!! This was very upsetting for me. D'OD phoned/skyped me almost on a weekly basis and I have recorded messages and photos which make it clear that we had a very close relationships. Although there was some remaining evidence that he had written a Will I was unable to trace an original or even a copy and neither was one filed with the Surrogacy Court because immediately after his funeral his sister's family removed all of his personal and private papers from his apartment. They denied there was a Will among them and have still not given me even copies of his photos or correspondence etc..The NY probate courtrefused to require the sister (deemed administrator and fiduciary) to disclose/provide access to his computer records/emails (*) which would have otherwise almost certainly disclosed identity/whereabouts of his Attorneys and any home made wills - which he told me, my family and his close friends (Attorneys, Court Clerks etc..) he had made. (* the sister had previously agreed via her attorney before the court to share the papers and agree inspection of computers). Ultimately the court relied on§ 117 DRL of New York State Law which states that as an "adopted-out" person I have no interest in my father's intestate estate and that it should be left entirely to his sister. Given that my father did not even know of my existence, let alone agree to the adoption, I do not see why I am prevented from inheriting at least part of his estate and having a few of his personal possessions even for sentimental value. Shouldn't I be seen as an illegitimate or non-marital child in respect of my father's estate and adop
Felix - 6-Jun-21 @ 4:27 PM
Hi I need some advice my son was adopted at 4 years old after 10 years he turned up at my door unexpected. He currently is living with me. I'm just wondering what support could I get to have parental responsibility back for my son.
Nat - 24-May-21 @ 9:47 AM
My 3kids have all been adopted and I'm terrified that they will grow up not knowing who there mum is im sa??
skinn ma lynnie - 21-Apr-21 @ 6:07 PM
My biological father died.I was contacted about inheritance by a life insurance company saying I was a beneficiary.I confirmed my details including that I had been adopted.I am now being discounted as a beneficiary.My bio Dad and I met twelves years ago and had a super relationship, speaking and writing each week, visiting etc. The only way the insurance company would know my details would be if I had been named and given my details which only my bio Dad would have passed on.The insurance company have been told by an informant that I am adopted and now have decided I should not get anything.Although adopted my bio Dad recognised me as his daughter and told me he would leave me something.I have no idea what is in the will or what was written on the life insurance policy.What are my potential rights?Thanks you
Adopted - 26-Feb-21 @ 8:35 PM
My daughter was adopted at 6 she now 17 and as been message me she want to know me she struggling with life she got support in place she wants to see me am worried about her mental health where do I stand
Zed - 9-Jan-21 @ 5:40 PM
I want to claim as I was adopted in care nd fosternever received a single penny other adopted children say received grants also in 80s I think I was adopted and taken from by force
Scott Finch - 15-Nov-20 @ 5:22 PM
My twin sons were taken by the Socil work and they got adopted out the first time I got told when my friend came over saying he was gutted for me I was like eh whit ye talkin about then he told me the twins were at a panel and they got took off there mother she was devestated I couldn’t believe what I was hearing hadn’t even get to say by nothing Fran haig the Socil worker brain washed the mother months of the be better off and things like that for years getting her to sign blank sheets off paper and tell her she was in a hurry she’d fill it in at the office which I thought was a bit shady anyways they ended up going to a gay couple then Mam was broken never got any kind of help from social work they just stopped commin up I put ma hands up I could off done more but I was young and PURE raging way mam because she never told me so long story short I blamed her for years now I know I’m to blame just as much sadly mam couldn’t cope and started self medicating and she lost the fight for life to tell ye the truth she lost it the day the twins got taken away but now they’ll be 14 and got 2 more years to wait to see if they try to contact me I don’t even know if they know about there mam I’ve always felt that I had no say because I didn’t go to a court to get some parent thing filled out I didn’t even know what that was so Ats why I had no rights so I felt helpless I always think about them and they also have two older brothers that can’t even see or contact them so to anybody who reads this is there any kind of way to get in contact with them or do blood brothers have rights?
Jay/ kingy - 15-Nov-20 @ 2:13 PM
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
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