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Support for contact between adopted children and birth family not fit for purpose, report finds

The Adoption Barometer 2021 is calling for a six point plan to improve the life chances of adopted young people. It includes multi-disciplinary assessments and support plans for every child placed for adoption and the extension of adoption services to at least age 26.

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The report which was published by the charity Adoption UK, shines a light on the challenges facing some of the UK’s most vulnerable children as they seek to navigate complex relationships with birth relatives. Adults who were adopted in childhood are also struggling with the legacy of poorly supported contact, and inadequate services to help with tracing relatives.

Most people adopted in recent decades will have direct or indirect contact with their birth family at some point in their lives, either decided by the courts when they were adopted, or through an informal arrangement.

Only 12% of adopters had been offered any training or advice about establishing direct contact after adopting their child. Among adopters whose children were having direct contact, 85% said that their agency does not regularly review their contact arrangements, and 86% said their child had not been offered any emotional or therapeutic support related to their contact arrangements.

The importance of well-managed contact was highlighted in the government’s National Adoption Strategy, published last year, and was the only significant reference to adoption in the recent Review of Children’s Social Care in England.

Adoption UK is calling for free national contact services to be set up for adopted people from childhood into adulthood, in each nation of the UK.

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