PARLIAMENT & POLITICS: ADOPTION - U-Turn on Plans to Scrap the Right to Trace Birth Parents

Article excerpt

THE GOVERNMENT was forced to abandon controversial plans last night to remove the automatic right of adopted children to know the identity of their birth parents.

Ministers backed off from the measure in the face of fury from adoption agencies and growing opposition from MPs of all parties.

The proposal had been drafted as part of the Adoption and Children Bill after a mentally-ill man who had been adopted allegedly threatened his natural mother.

The right for adopted children to know the identity of their parents once they reach the age of 18 was introduced 26 years ago. Supporters said the previous secrecy harmed the feelings of self- worth of adopted people and argued that the vast majority of birth mothers were pleased they had been sought out by their child.

The proposal had come under fierce attack in a Commons standing committee last month, raising the possibility of a government defeat.

In a letter to committee members yesterday, Jacqui Smith, the Social Care minister, announced the Government was scrapping the proposal.

A Health Department spokeswoman said the Bill had been modified because of the heavy weight of evidence presented to the Government that adopted people needed to know their origins. …