10. Why does this take so long

man waiting, wearing watch. Why does getting in touch with a birth relative take so long

Why does this process of being in touch with a birth relative take so long.

We know it is frustrating to wait to hear whether or not we can proceed to write to your first family relatives. Some people must think ‘I could just get on-line and do this’. So, these notes are just to give the details as to why it takes so long, and to let you know that we are always working behind the scenes to push your case forward. The most important thing to know is that we are obligated by the Adoption Act to go through a legal process, and we do have to do this without exception. We are Ofsted registered and they will inspect our processes to see that we are keeping to the appropriate actions in order to keep you safe.

Firstly, we write to the General Record Office to establish whether or not we can access your file, and where it is placed. This is a relatively reliable process and we usually have our requests returned in less than six weeks. They will tell us the name of the agency involved in your adoption.

Once this task is complete, we then write to the Adoption Agency that managed your adoption. We have to ask them if any veto has been placed on the file, i.e. if people have already said they don’t want to be in touch. We gather information from that file that may help us trace your relative. Sometimes the Adoption Agency don’t have a file and we will have to go to the relevant court for the papers relating to the adoption. The adoption agencies at present take somewhere between one month to six months to respond. This is generally, they say, due to volume of work and pressure. For example, a General Election caused delay at one point to many of our files. In our view this is not appropriate, and below we tell you what we are doing about this. Sometimes the court will write to us and say that they cannot find the file, although this is an exception. If it is going to take a long time we will write regular letters to push the process along.

By law we are required to take ‘reasonable steps’ to establish the position regarding the file and the information on there. If we do not get that information after some time has elapsed, we will evaluate the situation and make what we deem to be an ethical decision based on what we have done so far. We always take reasonable steps and keep to the legal process, and so if you are being kept waiting long enough, we will often make a decision to move forward based on the information that we have measuring carefully any risk involved in contact. For example it may be risky to wait for longer if we are contacting a very elderly relative who does not have too many years left to their life. We do, however, have to be seen to have waited for a reasonable length of time before we can do this, and this decision cannot be made lightly or without careful consideration as to the implications. When we make this decision, we do it with you in mind, but we also have to think of the subject of the search. It is highly likely that at some stage we will have to explain the reasoning for our decision to Ofsted, and so we need to be absolutely scrupulous about what we are doing. If we do move forward, and we have not heard from an Adoption Agency, we will be extra careful in contacting your relative, advising them of their right to place a veto if they wish.

So…..with you in mind….we will move forward, but the wait is necessary. In our view a three month wait is about average.

Here is what we are doing about this complex process.

Rest assured that we are as concerned as you are about what happens here with regard to public authorities who are supposed to find your files. We have busied ourselves with the following actions on behalf of all our clients who have had to wait.

– Taken legal advice from a Queens Counsellor as to what is deemed to be ‘reasonable steps’ and to check if we are doing the right thing by moving forward when Adoption Agencies don’t write to us.

– Notified the Government Inspection body Ofsted that we are questioning the length of time this process is taking on behalf of our clients. They have said they will be looking at this and get back to us.

– Notified our M.P and the Minister for Education of our concerns.

– Written an article for the Parliamentary Review so that it comes to the attention of the Prime Minister and other ministers.

– Raised the issue with the Consortium of Adoption Support Agencies – no conclusion as yet. We will be attending a meeting with them in March at the Department of Education.

– Undertaken research with the University of East Anglia on Access to Adoption Records for Adopted Adults and taken part in long term research with Professor Beth Neal on Improving Access for Adopted People to their records.

And we are considering the possibility, as advised by our Barrister, of opening a Judicial Review into the matter so that we can force the hand of the government to make sure all Adoption Agencies throughout England act within a reasonable amount of time.

Rest assured that on behalf of all our clients, and the subject of our searches, we are grinding away at a governmental level to get a good result on this and free up the search process. Please talk to us if you are wondering what is happening and we will give you the latest update on your file.

Dr. Joanna North.

Consultant Psychotherapist Adoption.

September 2024.

Joanna North Adoption (Ofsted registered)

man waiting, wearing watch. Why does getting in touch with a birth relative take so long