Letter: Adoptees need to know their roots

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Sir: Tony Breslin (Letters, 19 January) is correct in claiming that adopted people can well recognise who has nurtured and parented them through life. Adopted people seeking to contact their birth relatives rarely expect to establish a parent/child relationship; they are simply trying to learn more about themselves. That many find lasting and special friendships as well as information is a bonus.

Unfortunately, Professor Tizard (Letters, 14 January) has sought to establish her own media myth by reporting basic statistical information without thoughtful interpretation. Fifteen per cent of all adopted adults may seek access to birth records via the Registrar General. However, the adoption statistics are misleading: they include all those people adopted by step-parents (who rarely need official sources to identify their birth parents) as well as those adopted by strangers.

More than 40 per cent of all adoptions are by relatives. While some adopted people may need to use the official route to information, more than half of those who wish to search have the information they need direct from their adopters or family papers, so never feature in official statistics. When these factors are taken into account the actual proportion of adopted people brought up by non-relatives who seek information or contact with their birth family is about 60 per cent. The incidence of searching varies considerably between men and women - while one in three men will seek, more than two in three women does so. Hardly a small minority or a media myth by any standards.

The Archbishop of York is right - their need to know must be recognised and used as a guide to good practice as new opportunities for creating families arise.

Yours faithfully,



Norcap - the National

Organisation for Counselling

Adoptees and Parents


20 January