Select Committee on Select Committee on the Adoption and Children Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Cathy Henderson

  I believe that there are major changes that need to be made to this Bill before it becomes law.

  Britain seems to practise "closed" adoption by severing all ties with the birthfamily. The only time an adoption should be ``closed`` is if there is any abuse involved. Otherwise this goes against the spirit of the United Nations Convention on Children's Rights which states that "the State has a duty to maintain family ties."

  Birthparents and adoptees should not have their ties severed simply because of youth or poverty.

  "Open" adoption would ensure that the adoptive parents keep their ``parental rights'', and would insure that the child would still have ``family ties''. Open adoption is practised in many places in the world including Canada and the United States. Why isn't it practised here?

  Parental rights and family ties are two different things—they are not interchangeable. A child has a right to a family heritage as well as an up-to-date medical history. A child has a right to blood relatives. To deny anyone these is to break the UN Convention on their Rights, whether they are child or adult. Britain seems to be behind on "Open" Adoption issues when compared with other countries. Why? What is wrong with keeping the birthfamily informed of the child's welfare? It would help many birthparents come to terms with the adoption. Most birthparents never recover from a closed adoption—not knowing if your child is dead or alive is endless purgatory. Most birthparents end up on anti-depressants—some even commit suicide from the endless despair of not knowing. All birthparents want to know is that their child is thriving—all it takes is letters and pictures. Why is that so much to ask. To deny the crumbs of childhood shows greed and selfishness on the part of adoptive parents who should remember where that child came from and the lifelong depression that the birthmother will suffer from that loss for their gain. Birthmothers have had enough of being made invisible—especially from past bad treatment.

  Another thing that needs to be looked at is that the search is at the discretion of the adoption agency—this cannot guarantee a high standard of uniform service. This should not be a discretion on the part of a stranger—it should be a legal right. The only time there should not be a search is if there has been any abuse involved. Anyone who does not want to be found can simply give the adoption agency a letter of veto.

  Are records going to be open? If not, why not? In British Columbia in Canada last year, all records were open. If a person did not want contact, then all they needed to do was put in their file a ``No Contact'' veto.

  Only 0.04 per cent put in these vetoes.

  In other words, 99 per cent of people want contact. What right have you to deny the vast majority of people?

  Please take note of all the things in this email. It is very important. I speak from first-hand experience as a birthmother searching for her son. Are any of the committee members birthparents or adoptees—if not why not? I have found that people do not truly understand our "needs" if they are not one or the other. Birthparent/relatives and adoptees need to be represented on the Committee.

  Many thanks for listening. Please make these important changes. It will make millions of people very happy if you do. Adoptees will find family and birthparents can die in peace.

April 2001

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