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Human Rights and Adopted Children

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 30 Nov 2018 | 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 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
Hi my boys were adopted 8 and 10 years ago but r separated and I don’t believe they see each other as I have letter contact once a year off both boys and none of the letters state they’ve seen 1 another but they do mention that they have other brothers n sisters anyway I’ve had a letter off the oldest sibling stating he has adhd and autism and I’m very concerned that this may b caused by the upbringing he is having maybe I’m wrong but is ther any way of knowing that my boy is overlooked by social services about his well being maybe I’m mislead and my boy is having a brilliant time with his new family but I’m really concerned as if he’s not getting the treatment he should b getting and the love that later on in life he could end up with problems that could of been solved and wher the courts took him off me who would b to blame later on in life if ther r problems is ther anything I can do
Boy jack - 17-Jun-18 @ 8:31 PM
Lexi-mae - Your Question:
I was 18 married and in an abusive relationship which lead my child to be adopted. 15 years later I am in a loving marriage with my wife and step-son who recently asked me to adopt him so we can become a family, as my own child was adopted is there a possibility that I couldn’t adopt my step-son. My adopted daughter knows who I am and we have some contact as she is with family. Can anyone please advise me or offer another solution if this isn’t possible. Thanks

Our Response:
Each adoption case is looked at under its own merit. We don't know how the court's view this but we don't see why something that happened 15 years ago would affect a decision. A social worker's report will be submitted to the court. Note that the adoption order gives you parental responsibility for the child and also takes away parental responsibility from the child’s other birth parent and anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child. So the other biological parent (if he's around) must give consent.
AboutHumanRights - 17-Apr-18 @ 2:16 PM
I was 18 married and in an abusive relationship which lead my child to be adopted.15 years later I am in a loving marriage with my wife and step-son who recently asked me to adopt him so we can become a family, as my own child was adopted is there a possibility that I couldn’t adopt my step-son. My adopted daughter knows who I am and we have some contact as she is with family. Can anyone please advise me or offer another solution if this isn’t possible. Thanks
Lexi-mae - 16-Apr-18 @ 9:01 PM
Sherry - Your Question:
In 1988, I gave my son up for adoption. He is now 30 years old and I would like to contact him about his father's side. He has a sister that would like to contact and meet him. So how do I go about that with his age? Can I now get his last name or no?

Our Response:
You should be able to contact the adoption agency (often the local authority). They will make contact on your behalf and your son will be given the choice whether to respond etc.
AboutHumanRights - 9-Apr-18 @ 11:49 AM
In 1988, I gave my son up for adoption. He is now 30 years old and I would like to contact him about his father's side. He has a sister that would like to contact and meet him. So how do I go about that with his age? Can I now get his last name or no?
Sherry - 7-Apr-18 @ 5:21 AM
After a gruellingfight lasting nearly 3 years my nephew at the age of 3 was finally placed with adoptive parents. His mother ( my sister) had a ‘pillar box’ arrangement sending and receiving a letter/ Christmas and birthday card once a year.Prior to the adoption it is well documented that because of my sister’s and niece’s learning disabilities, my nephew would inherit the same disabilities.. I have kept all the correspondence from the case which includes the ‘experts’ expections of my nephews abilities.My nephew is now 18 and my sister received a final letter from the adoptive parents stating how hard it has been for them because of my nephew’s behavioural problems, which seem to be similar to my niece, his half sister.What is both distressing and shocking is that in the letter the adoptive mother has written that they, the adoptive family, did not have any support from social services and that at the age of 13 my nephew was taken out of main stream school because of behaviour issues and it wasn’t until the age of 15 that he was diagnosed with autism.This is very distressing because one the main issues put to the family court by social services as a reason for adoption was nephew’s forecasted learning disabilities.From the letter it seems that my nephew is still having a really hard life, he has anxiety issues and is on medication to help him sleep.My concerns are ... given that social services and their chosen experts predicted my nephews disabilities at age 2 ( and having the family history) why did it take till he was 15 to be diagnosed.Did social services omit from discussing this with the adoptive family and why did they not get the support they needed from the start.The adoptive mother has written in the final letter that they are finding it hard, my question i(on behalf of my sister)if social services did not support the adoptive family and / or did not disclose the full family history whilst my nephew was under the age of 18, can a case be raised to ensure that as an adult my nephew is giving all the support he and his adoptive family needs.During the original adoption case, social services made many mistakes and false accusations for which they had to apologise for in court. One of the main expertsan eminent psychologist was threatened with with arrest for her constant refusal to attend court to explain her comments in her reports to the judge.My sister finally consented to adoption after being beaten into submission.The judge at the time was very sympathetic but as she told him she wanted her son to have the best education he could have and she wasn’t able to help him with this. This it seems has not been the case... my sister cares very much about what is happening to her son.... and now she knows what he has gone through she is heart broken. For information both my sister and niece were taken out of mainstream school at the age of 13.My sister who is in her fifties was not assessed and my niece was n
Sad Aunt - 3-Apr-18 @ 12:47 PM
Pinky - Your Question:
Hi my daughter was adopted as I have substance misuse problems my local authority put me in emergency accommodation when I was pregnant but after 28days wrote me a letter saying I "don't mee criteria" I was 7 months pregnant!! I was being thrown on the streets on the Wednesday the Sunday I went into labour she was 2months early. I f she wasn't premature I would of been on the streets pregnant! I wrote a letter complaining never got a response. I had nowhere to live so was obviously too hard to sort myself out in the space from birth to adoption so she's now adopted. How the hell did I ever stand a chance? I went to my contacts and court hearings but as I had not sorted myself out she was adopted. I met adoptive parents in a brief meeting. All I have now is letterbox contact once a year. They are not legally bined to give my daughter the letters either. Do social services tell my daughter when she is 18? I've been lead to believe this is the case but told so many different things can you please tell me for certain if they HAVE to do anything to let them know they are adopted

Our Response:
You can apply to the adoption agency (or social services) yourself once your daughter is 18. They will make contact with your daughter and ask her if she will allow you to be in touch etc.
AboutHumanRights - 6-Mar-18 @ 11:33 AM
My two girls were stolen by social services. They were forced adoptedI used to get letters and pictures but now they won't send any more claiming its not in the is best interest for them... I need help they say there's nothing I can do but I want my letter they won't even tell me if my girls are safe. We want our kids back. Anyone please help us
Tracie - 5-Mar-18 @ 2:13 PM
Hi my daughter was adopted as I have substance misuse problems my local authority put me in emergency accommodation when I was pregnant but after 28days wrote me a letter saying I "don't mee criteria" I was 7 months pregnant!! I was being thrown on the streets on the Wednesday the Sunday I went into labour she was 2months early. I f she wasn't premature I would of been on the streets pregnant! I wrote a letter complaining never got a response. I had nowhere to live so was obviously too hard to sort myself out in the space from birth to adoption so she's now adopted. How the hell did I ever stand a chance? I went to my contacts and court hearings but as I had not sorted myself out she was adopted. I met adoptive parents in a brief meeting. All I have now is letterbox contact once a year. They are not legally bined to give my daughter the letters either. Do social services tell my daughter when she is 18? I've been lead to believe this is the case but told so many different things can you please tell me for certain if they HAVE t o do anything to let them know they are adopted
Pinky - 3-Mar-18 @ 4:11 PM
Sparkle - Your Question:
My daughter was adopted in 2004. She will be 14 next month. I really want to contact her mother. I don't want to cause upset but I'd just like to keep in contact with her mum for updates on how she is. I was forced to give her up for adoption by my abusive family and I've regretted it ever since. I never wanted to give her up. I have so much to tell her. Would I get into trouble if I were to contact her mum on FB? I'm not expecting to meet with my daughter but I'd like some form on contact?

Our Response:
You should do this via the formal channels while your child is still under 18. Approach the original adoption agency and ask them about letterbox contact/contact with the adoptive mother.
AboutHumanRights - 2-Mar-18 @ 3:10 PM
My daughter was adopted in 2004. She will be 14 next month. I really want to contact her mother. I don't want to cause upset but I'd just like to keep in contact with her mum for updates on how she is. I was forced to give her up for adoption by my abusive family and I've regretted it ever since. I never wanted to give her up. I have so much to tell her. Would I get into trouble if I were to contact her mum on FB? I'm not expecting to meet with my daughter but I'd like some form on contact?
Sparkle - 28-Feb-18 @ 7:38 PM
Sammy - Your Question:
My daughter was took under mental health issues depression.my baby will be 16 in 2018.i Did not agree for adoption but still went ahead I miss my daughter very much I aint rich like them has they keep saying.but I want to see my baby again and hold her cuddle her so she knows I never forgot her and who is her real blood family.she is an auntie to to lil munchkins 5yr onwards has my other two daughters have kids now.my other daughters miss her too.when and how do I apply to see my baby girl again.do I need a solicitor I do it I find money to do it.like to add people with mental health issues do get help and being put down as a bad person is wrong.especially when you get bent social workers that dont like your face ruin it.been proven check facebook fighting back on social services

Our Response:
Once your daughter is 18 you can apply to make contact through the adoption agency/social services etc. Until then, there's not really much you can do.
AboutHumanRights - 6-Feb-18 @ 11:03 AM
dana - Your Question:
HelloI am looking for advice. A friend of mine, who was adopted in 1976 as an almost new born, in London and from an irish student of medecine) is looking for his biological father since a long time. He found his biological mother, met her once but then strangely she cut all contact and is not giving my friend the infos about his biological father he desperately needs. Can my friend force his biological mother by law (on court, excuse my english, I am german mothertongue) to give him the info about his father?thanks for your answer,dana

Our Response:
No a court order cannot force a mother to divulge information to an adopted child. The adoption agency may just have some relevant information though so it's worth trying there.
AboutHumanRights - 6-Feb-18 @ 10:15 AM
Waitingandhopeful - Your Question:
Hi my daughter got adopted as a baby she will be 16 November 2018, does she get told she is adopted at a certain age as I am truly hoping that she will want to contact me and her dad if and when she gets told.

Our Response:
Whether she is told about her adoption is entirely up to her adoptive parents. Once she is 18 you can apply to make contact with her via the original adoption agency processes.
AboutHumanRights - 5-Feb-18 @ 2:37 PM
My daughter was took under mental health issues depression.my baby will be 16 in 2018.i Did not agree for adoption but still went ahead i miss my daughter very much i aint rich like them has they keep saying.but i want to see my baby again and hold her cuddle her so she knows i never forgot her and who is her real blood family.she is an auntie to to lil munchkins 5yr onwards has my other two daughters have kids now.my other daughters miss her too.when and how do i apply to see my baby girl again.do i need a solicitor i do it i find money to do it.like to add people with mental health issues do get help and being put down as a bad person is wrong.especially when you get bent social workers that dont like your face ruin it.been proven check facebook fighting back on social services
Sammy - 4-Feb-18 @ 6:41 PM
Hello I am looking for advice. A friend of mine, who was adopted in 1976 as an almost new born, in London and from an irish student of medecine) is looking for his biological father since a long time. He found his biological mother, met her once but then strangely she cut all contact and is not giving my friend the infos about his biological father he desperately needs. Can my friend force his biological mother by law (on court, excuse my english, i am german mothertongue) to give him the info about his father? thanks for your answer, dana
dana - 4-Feb-18 @ 9:34 AM
Hi my daughter got adopted as a baby she will be 16 November 2018, does she get told she is adopted at a certain age as I am truly hoping that she will want to contact me and her dad if and when she gets told.
Waitingandhopeful - 2-Feb-18 @ 11:27 PM
Whilst I am not adopted I'm hoping you can help me. I am 67 years old and have only recently discovered, through my and other family members' DNA tests, that the person I always thought was my father is not my biological father. Furthermore, I have good reason to suspect that he posed as my father for purely financial reasons. Throughout my life he appeared to resent my very existence. I recently asked my mother to reveal the name of my real father but she would not even acknowledge that she has kept if from me all my life and, in doing so, falsified my birth certificate. The man I thought was my father is still alive but I am estranged from him. If adopted children and sperm donor's children have a legal right to know their father's true identity is there any legal way I can force either of my official parents to reveal the name of my real father?
Confused - 25-Jan-18 @ 4:55 PM
Claire - Your Question:
Hi. I am concerned that the birth mother of my 14 year old daughter has found my Facebook profile after putting out a Facebook appeal. She has commented on photos of my adopted daughter and put them on her profile. I can now obviously block her but really concerned what she will do next. Luckily my daughter isn’t on Facebook so I haven’t told her What are my rights and options to protect my daughter. My daughter was taken into care from birth as older siblings were in care due to neglect and the mothers mental health issues

Our Response:
Speak to the original adoption agency first of all for advice. There are steps you can take legally, such as injunctions but it's worth seeking advice first.
AboutHumanRights - 19-Dec-17 @ 3:27 PM
Hi. I am concerned that the birth mother of my 14 year old daughter has found my Facebook profile after putting out a Facebook appeal. She has commented on photos of my adopted daughter and put them on her profile.I can now obviously block her but really concerned what she will do next. Luckily my daughter isn’t on Facebook so I haven’t told her What are my rights and options to protect my daughter.My daughter was taken into care from birth as older siblings were in care due to neglect and the mothers mental health issues
Claire - 17-Dec-17 @ 6:29 PM
Toppo - Your Question:
I am trying to help someone who's birth siblings were adopted about 1994. I don't know the full details of the why it happened, just that the lady I'm helping is now 40 years old and she had two siblings taken into care then adopted. The two children taken into care are believed to now be 27 and 23 years old. Social Services have apparently refused to help even though the older unadopted sibling had nothing to do with the reason the younger ones were taken away. Is there any advise anyone can offer being as all the parties concerned are now adults? Any suggestions at all?

Our Response:
Usually the adoption agency will contact the other party on your behalf once they are of age. If they cannot do this, it may be that the younger siblings do not want contact. Your friend can add herself to the Adoption contact register so that if her siblings do want contact they will know where to find her. There are also various organisations that help with the search for adopted family if you search on the Internet.
AboutHumanRights - 13-Dec-17 @ 3:30 PM
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