30 September 2014 by Marketing Team
New rules due to be in force by November will allow relatives of adopted adults to trace their family tree. At first glance, it would seem that this would only benefit those interested in their ancestry, and unearthing their family history. However, the changes could ultimately be a life saver for some.
Currently, only the person adopted and their immediate birth relatives (siblings) are able to obtain information about their biological family members. This information is requested through certain adoption agencies, and can result in the applicant making contact with their biological family members.
The new rules will make it possible for children, grandchildren and other relatives such as partners and adoptive relatives to also trace the family tree of the adopted person. As well as discovering more about their family history and making contact with their family members, the rules will allow access to medical records, possibly uncovering hereditary conditions that need attention.
Edward Timpson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Education and Children and Families Minister, picks up on this point;
“It’s right that descendants and other relatives of adopted adults are able to access important information, such as medical records or genetic health conditions, which could impact upon how they live their life today.”
He also states, “This positive change will help thousands of people discover their place in history, while keeping important safeguards in place to protect the right to a private family life for those who were adopted.”
This change has the potential to benefit people in many ways. The consent of the person who was adopted will be required before a request can be made unless the information sought cannot be used to identify individuals.
News of these changes comes shortly after a decision in the High Court in the case of X (Adopted Child: Access To Court File). The court granted the applicant access to her late father’s adoption record as she wanted to better understand her family medical background and history.
More information about adoption, and the law surrounding it can be found here