Clause 19 - Advance consent to adoption

Part of Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 29 Tachwedd 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 10:30, 29 Tachwedd 2001

I beg to move amendment No. 45, in page 13, line 26, leave out from `section' to end of line 30 and insert

`will automatically be informed by the adoption agency of any application for an adoption order unless he has withdrawn his right to receive such information.'.

We will discuss the amendment without reference to the flowchart. The amendment deals with the notification of parents who have consented to adoption, and would remove part of subsection (4). It strikes me as odd to ask a parent who has given consent to adoption, in effect, to opt into an information system. For the reasons that I mentioned earlier about the pressures on a parent about to give up a child for adoption, there should be a statutory right for that parent automatically to be told about the various processes that are coming up. It seems for the Bill to state that a parent has to express his or her wish to be informed of any application for an adoption order—a key part of the whole process. Surely, it should be that person's automatic right to be notified that a significant juncture in the process is about to be reached.

The amendment also raises the question, which I mentioned earlier, of the satisfactory notification of such a person on how to exercise their right to withdraw consent. If they are not automatically told that an adoption order is being applied for, they may not know that the period within which they may withdraw their consent is running out. The amendment would give that person an automatic right to be informed by the adoption agency of any application for an adoption order unless they have opted out of the system.

If, for some reason, a person made the decision to be completely divorced from the proceedings, because they were handing their child over and were adamant that they had made up their mind and did not want further information, that would be entirely up to them—they could opt out—but surely it is right for everyone else—the majority, I imagine—to be automatically informed when every stage is coming up, especially the application for an adoption order. They will then know what time they have in which to take avoiding action if they have changed their mind. It is a basic human right automatically to be given information about the future destination of one's child during the adoption process.

I hope that the amendment is helpful. It is intended to make the legislation absolutely watertight and ensure that parents are fully apprised of all facts at every juncture, giving them the opportunity to continue with the decision made, or to reverse or block that decision.