Letter: Mythic need to know 'true' parents

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Sir: In discussing the possibility of using ova from aborted foetuses, the Archbishop of York ('Where should babies come from?', 11 January) and others have expressed concern about the 'genetic identity' of children conceived in this way, arguing from the need of adopted children to know their 'true parents'.

Although some adopted children have a compelling desire to meet and know their biological parents, there is evidence that they are in a small minority. The widespread belief to the contrary is probably due to media interest in the exceptions. Nowadays adopted children are generally given information about their biological parents, and may be in touch with them.

In the past this was not the case, yet Professor Triseliotis has shown that since the opening of the English birth records to adopted people from the age of 18, in 1977, only about 0.3 per cent seek access to them each year. Taking this annual rate over the average life span, about 15 per cent of all adopted adults are likely to seek access at some point in their lives. About half want basic information only, the rest hope to establish contact. Numerous interview studies with adopted children and adults have found that most saw no point in search or contact since they felt embedded in their adoptive families. It is a pity to obscure discussion about technological advances with media myths.

Yours truly,


London, WC1