A major new resource, based on extensive research and contributions from social workers and families across the UK, could change the way contact between adopted children and their birth relatives is handled.
The Contact after Adoption website, a partnership between the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Research in Practice, follows comments by senior judge Lord Justice McFarlane, who questioned the right of adoptive parents to veto contact.
Speaking to the Guardian, Elsbeth Neil, director of research at the UEA’s school of social work, whose work underpins the new website, says face-to-face contact should be considered in more adoption cases.
“There’s a lot of ambivalence about contact, because adoption was seen as a clean break and birth families as a bad influence. It’s hard to shift those attitudes,” she says.
Neil said contact arrangements need to be based on the child’s need and reviewed over time as families and their children develop. Her research found that contact with birth relatives did not affect a child’s overall development, though it could contribute to young people having a more cohesive sense of identity.
If you’ve been adopted, have adopted a child, or had your child adopted, we’d like you to share your experiences with us. You can fill in the form – anonymously, if you prefer – and we’ll use a selection in our reporting.