Advice for life

Confidentiality of the Adoption Process Prevails in Parenthood Dispute

Confidentiality of the Adoption Process Prevails in Parenthood Dispute

The confidentiality of the process by which an adopted child becomes part of a new, permanent and inviolable family unit is, for very good reasons, sacrosanct. A judge made that point in refusing a man's application for his biological parenthood of an adopted child to be formally recognised.

The man was not named as the child's father on her birth certificate but a DNA test had confirmed his paternity. After unsuccessfully opposing her adoption, he sought a judicial declaration that he was the child's parent. If granted, that would permit amendment of the child's birth certificate to record him as her father.

Viewing the application as a staging post on the route to resuming his relationship with the child, he argued that she had a right to know the identity of her biological father and her siblings. With the support of the Attorney General, however, the local authority that had arranged the adoption opposed the application. They argued that, if successful, the application would open a back door that would undermine the inviolability and confidentiality of the adoptive placement.

Dismissing the application, the judge noted that the result of an adoption should be that an adopted child ceases to be the child of their previous parent and becomes, for all purposes, the child of the adopters, that change of status being both final and permanent. The integrity of the adoption process depends on the identity of adoptive parents, the name of the adopted child and the location of the adoptive placement being kept strictly confidential.

Noting that a declaration of parentage would necessarily have to contain the child's adoptive name, the judge concluded that upholding the man's application would be manifestly contrary to public policy. Given the eminently reasonable approach of the child's adoptive parents, the man could have confidence that the child would be made aware of her origins as she grew up.

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