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8.14 Intermediary Services

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

For adoptions where the order was made after 30th December 2005 the legal framework is provided by sections 56 to 65 of the Adoption & Children Act 2002, the Adoption Information & Intermediary Services Regulations, the Adoption Agencies Regulations and chapter 11 of the Statutory Adoption Guidance.

The regulations set out the information adoption agencies are required to keep about a person’s adoption, which may be identifying (Protected information) or non-identifying.  Disclosure of protected information is restricted. Any person may apply to the appropriate adoption agency for disclosure of protected information, and the agency is required to consider the adopted person’s welfare before making any determination whether or not to disclose protected information. A person may request consideration by the Independent Review Mechanism if an agency proposes to disclose or withhold information. While there is no legal requirement for a person to received counselling before information is disclosed, the agency has a duty to arrange this if requested.

The rest of this chapter applies only to adoption orders made before 30th December 2005 2005 and should be read in conjunction with Access to Birth Records and Adoption Case Records Procedure and Adoption Case Records Procedure.

RELATED GUIDANCE

Adoption Information and Intermediary Services Regulations 2005

The Adoption Information and Intermediary Services (Pre- Commencement Adoptions) (Amendment) Regulations 2015

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in April 2017 and should be read throughout.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What are Intermediary Services?
  3. Who May Apply for Intermediary Services?
  4. Receipt of Applications
  5. Contacting the Appropriate Adoption Agency
  6. Deciding Whether to Proceed with the Application
  7. Procedure for Dealing with Accepted Applications


1. Introduction

Barnardo’s CAFIS, provide an intermediary service on behalf of Kent County Council to birth relatives involved in adoptions, prioritising those which were made pre 12th November 1975. An application be accepted from a birth relative of someone adopted on or after 12th November 1975 (providing the adopted person is now over the age of 18), with the agreement of Kent County Council’s Head of Adoption, if there is capacity.  

With effect from 31 October 2014,  persons having a Prescribed Relationship with an adopted person are entitled to request assistance in contacting a relative of an adopted person and vice versa. This allows, for example, descendants  of an adopted person to obtain information about  family medical history in relation to inherited diseases.

This includes people who are related to the adopted person by blood, marriage or civil partnership, and who also still have a legal relationship with the adopted person because their legal relationship has not been affected by the adoption, or they are related to the adopted person by virtue of his adoption.

Intermediary services for adopted adults are covered in Access to Birth Records and Adoption Case Records Procedure.


2. What are Intermediary Services?

An intermediary agency can make contact with the adopted person on behalf of the birth relative to let me know of the birth relative's wish for contact. No identifying information can be passed to the birth relative without the adopted person's permission (ISR 7 (1) and (4)).

  1. If an agency does not have the capacity to take up all the requests it receives, it is required to give priority to requests where the adoption took place before 12 November 1975 (ISR 5(2)). Priority should also be given to requests from elderly applicants and those suffering life-threatening illness;
  2. Intermediary services are defined as:
    • Assisting adopted persons who were adopted before 30th December 2005 and are 18 or over, to obtain information in relation to their adoption see Access to Birth Records and Adoption Case Records Procedure;
    • To provide access to non-identifying information regarding the adoption and advice and support to birth relatives aged 18 and over, who require intermediary services, when the adoptee has reached age 18 or over;
    • Facilitating contact between such adopted persons and their relatives; and
    • Facilitating contact between persons with a Prescribed Relationship to an adopted person and relatives of the adopted person.

The provision of an intermediary service involves:

  1. Establishing that the applicant and subject are 18 or over;
  2. Undertaking preparatory work with the applicant, including the provision of information about the available services and the possible impact of using them, including the Adoption Contact Register and qualified and absolute vetoes;
  3. Counselling may be provided to the applicant in the initial interview. If felt necessary, there will be sign-posting to further long term counselling and the subject of the application will be provided with written information on the availability of counselling services in the area;
  4. Where it is not possible to identify the present address of the subject of the search from the records, the Service Provide will give details of intermediary agencies, or other similar organisations, that may assist with further searching;
  5. Obtaining the relevant informed consent;
  6. If consent has been obtained, disclosing to the applicant in appropriate cases the information obtained by the intermediary agency;
  7. If Agreement to contact is forthcoming from the subject of the search, Barnardo's CAFIS will assist and may be in attendance at a first meeting between the parties if this is practicable and necessary;
  8. Acting as an intermediary between the parties, and facilitating contact/information-sharing between them;
  9. Providing counselling, support and advice to the parties  about the process.


3. Who May Apply for Intermediary Services?

Provided that the applicant/subject/adopted person are aged 18 or over, an intermediary agency may accept an application from:

  • An adopted person for assistance in contacting a relative of his;
  • A relative of an adopted person for assistance in contacting:
    • The adopted person; or
    • A person with a Prescribed Relationship to the adopted person; or
  • A person with a Prescribed Relationship to an adopted person for assistance in contacting a relative of an adopted person.
The Adoption Service will consider applications from residents of the local authority area or where the adoption was arranged by their service or where the Adoption Case Record is held by the service.


4. Receipt of Applications

Where an application is made, Barnardo’s CAFIS will first verify the identity and age of the applicant through the production of the person's passport, driving licence or birth/adoption certificate; and that the subject/adopted person is also an adult. The agency must also verify the identity of any person acting on behalf of the applicant and that he or she has the authority to do so.

The agency must also verify the relationship with the adopted person.

All verified applications for intermediary services must be passed to the Barnardo’s CAFIS Manager, who will decide whether the application can be accepted.

Where an application is accepted, applicants must be informed in writing of the likely scale of charges that will apply and asked to confirm their wish to proceed on this basis.

Where the applicant confirms a wish to proceed, the case should be allocated to a social worker from the Barnardo’s CAFIS Service.

Where an application is not accepted, the applicant must be informed in writing of the reasons and advised about the contact details of other agencies which may be in a position to help them.


5. Contacting the Appropriate Adoption Agency

Where the intermediary agency is not the adoption agency that arranged the adoption, the allocated social worker must take steps to identify the relevant adoption agency by making enquiries of the Registrar General.

If the Registrar General does not hold the information, s/he will provide details of the Court which made the Adoption Order. The allocated social worker must then make enquiries of the Court and the local authority for the area where the Adoption Order was made with a view to identifying the adoption agency involved.

In making the above enquiries to identify the relevant adoption agency, the allocated social worker may provide sufficient information to the Registrar General, Court and relevant local authority, including identifying information about the applicant and the subject, to enable them to properly check their records.

Where the adoption agency is identified, enquiries must be made of that agency to establish if a Veto has been registered by the adopted person and/or if the adopted person has ever registered their views as to any future contact with any birth relative; any future contact between people with a Prescribed Relationship to him/her and his/her relatives, or being approached with regard to such contact. The intermediary agency must take account of those views in deciding whether to proceed with the application.

The intermediary agency must also seek from the adoption agency any other information required for the following purposes:

  • Tracing the adopted person and, where the adopted person is not the subject, any other subject;
  • Enabling the adopted person to make an informed decision as to whether s/he consents to:
    • The disclosure of identifying information about him/her;
    • An application proceeding to facilitate contact between a relative and a person with a Prescribed Relationship; or
    • Contact with the applicant.
  • Enabling any other subject to make an informed decision as to whether s/he consents to:
    • The disclosure of identifying information about him/her; or
    • Contact with the applicant.
  • Counselling the subject and, where they are not the subject, the adopted person in relation to that decision; and
  • Counselling the applicant.

The intermediary agency must also establish the adoption agency's views on the application and the proposed contact between the applicant and the subject. The adoption agency's views must be taken into account by the intermediary agency before deciding whether to proceed with the application. 

Where the adoption agency cannot be identified or the adoption agency is not able to provide sufficient information to trace the subject, the allocated social worker may seek additional information from the Registrar General, for example any information held on the Adoption Contact Register or a certificate from the Adopted Children Register or, in order to establish the post-adoption identity of the adopted person, any information which links an entry in the Register of Births to an entry in the Adopted Children Register.


6. Deciding Whether to Proceed with the Application

6.1 No Obligation to Proceed if not Appropriate

There is no obligation to proceed if it would not be appropriate to do so, and there is a discretion as to whether to continue with the application. In deciding whether to proceed, regard must be had to the welfare of the applicant, the subject of the application, the adopted person, and any other person who may be identified or otherwise affected by the application, together with all the other circumstances of the case.

If, at any time, the intermediary agency ascertains that the subject of an application is under the age of 18, it must not proceed further with the application.

6.2 Restrictions on Proceeding with an Application

6.2.1 Application from a Relative of an Adopted Person for Assistance in Contacting the Adopted Person

  • Must not proceed if a Veto applies, except where the circumstances are within the scope of a qualified veto; 
  • The intermediary agency must not disclose to the applicant any identifying information about the subject without the subject’s consent, unless the subject has died or is incapable of giving informed consent.

All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the adopted person has sufficient information to make an informed decision.

6.2.2 Application from a Relative of an Adopted Person for Assistance in Contacting a Person with a Prescribed Relationship to the Adopted Person

Must not proceed if:

  • A Veto applies, except where the circumstances are within the scope of a qualified veto;
  • The adopted person does not consent to the application proceeding, unless:
    • The adopted person has died; or
    • The intermediary agency determines that the adopted person is incapable of giving informed consent.

All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the adopted person has sufficient information to make an informed decision.

6.2.3 Application from a Person with a Prescribed Relationship to an Adopted Person for Assistance in Contacting a Relative of the Adopted Person

Must not proceed if the adopted person does not consent to the application proceeding, unless:

  • The adopted person has died;
  • The intermediary agency determines that the adopted person is incapable of giving informed consent;
  • All reasonable steps have been taken to locate the adopted person,  but they cannot be found;
  • The applicant is:
    • Either the spouse, child, grandchild or great grandchild of the adopted person; and
    • Is seeking to contact the relative of the adopted person only to obtain information about the medical history of the adopted person’s relatives; and
    • No information is disclosed which would enable the adopted person, any relative of the adopted person or any person with a prescribed relationship to the adopted person to be identified or traced.

All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the adopted person has sufficient information to make an informed decision.

Where the Subject/Adopted Person has Died

Where it is discovered that the subject of the application/the adopted person has died, the allocated social worker should obtain the views of the next of kin and other family members before a decision is made whether to disclose any identifying information. The decision should take account of their views and have regard to their welfare.

Where the Subject/Adopted Person Cannot Give Informed Consent

Where it is discovered that the subject of the application/ the adopted person cannot give informed consent for example because of a learning difficulty, the allocated social worker should obtain the views of other family members and other significant people involved with the subject before a decision is made whether to disclose the identifying information. The decision should take account of their views and have regard to their welfare.

6.3 Discretion to Disclose Non-Identifying Information

Notwithstanding a Veto preventing a birth relative making contact with the adopted person, or an absence of consent, the intermediary agency may decide to pass non-identifying information to the applicant where the circumstances of the case justify it. This may include information about the subject's family circumstances, general health or wellbeing, but must not include information by which the subject can be identified.

In exceptional circumstances, the birth relative may apply to the High Court for an Order allowing the disclosure of identifying information held by the Registrar General.


7. Procedure for Dealing with Accepted Applications

7.1 Provision of Counselling

Where an application is accepted, the allocated social worker must provide written information about the availability of counselling to:

  • The applicant;
  • The subject of an application who is considering whether to consent to disclosure of information about him/herself to the applicant; or
  • An adopted person considering whether to consent to an application proceeding.

This will include information about agencies that provide counselling in the relevant area and any fees which may apply.

Where the applicant indicates a wish to receive counselling, the allocated social worker must ensure that the person receives the counselling, which may be through another agency. Where another agency is used, the allocated social worker should ensure that the counsellor will have the necessary skills and experience to do so.

Where a referral is made to another agency, the allocated social worker should then provide the agency carrying out the counselling with sufficient information about the applicant and/or the subject to enable the counselling to be beneficial.

7.2 Applications by Relatives

Applications may be received from a relative of an adopted person for assistance in contacting:

  • The adopted person; or
  • A person with a Prescribed Relationship to the adopted person.

Where an adult relative applies for an intermediary service, the allocated social worker should request information from the applicant to enable the current identity of the relevant adopted adult/persons with a Prescribed Relationship to them, to be established. The allocated social worker should then take any steps required to trace them, including contacting other adoption agencies and/or the Registrar General.

7.3 Applications by Persons Having a Prescribed Relationship to the Adopted Person

Applications may be received from:

  • A relative of an adopted person for assistance in contacting a person with a Prescribed Relationship to the adopted person; or
  • A person with a Prescribed Relationship to an adopted person for assistance in contacting a relative of an adopted person.
The allocated social worker should request information from the applicant to enable the current identity of the relevant relative of the adopted person/persons with a Prescribed Relationship to the adopted person, to be established. The allocated social worker should then take any steps required to trace them, including contacting other adoption agencies and/or the Registrar General.

7.4 Confidentiality

Information obtained or held by the intermediary agency must be treated as confidential, but the agency may disclose such information (including identifying information) as is necessary:

  • To the Registrar General or to the court for the purpose of identifying the appropriate adoption agency;
  • To the appropriate adoption agency for the purposes of ascertaining its views or seeking information;
  • To the subject to enable him/her to make an informed decision on disclosure of information;
  • To a person providing counselling in connection with an application;
  • To the adopted person to enable him/her to make an informed decision about whether to consent to an application proceeding.

7.5 Discontinuance

Just as, upon receipt of an application, there is no obligation to proceed if it would not be appropriate to do so, there is an ongoing discretion as to whether to continue with the application. In deciding whether to continue, regard must be had to the welfare of the applicant, the subject of the application, the adopted person, and any other person who may be identified or otherwise affected by the application, together with all the other circumstances of the case.

7.6 Offence

An intermediary agency that discloses information in contravention of the regulations is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine.

End