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34. An increasing number of adopted children will have experienced a number of placements during their time in care and there could be a range of people who played an important or stable role in the child’s life prior to their adoption. A formal agreement in accordance with this regulation would enable any of those persons formally to register their views as to the disclosure of protected information about themselves at some future time. In the event that the adopted person applied to the agency for the disclosure of protected information about that person, the agency would not be required to take the steps at section 61(3) of the Act to seek that person’s views, as their prior agreement to the disclosure of the information had already been given. Such an agreement is not intended to override or limit the sharing of information as part of the life story work for the adopted child. Every child has a right to full information in their life story book, and this will include identifying information about a range of people in their life prior to their adoption.
35. Formal agreements for the sharing of protected information between the agency, the adopters and the birth parents are likely to be rare. The majority of children being placed for adoption will have been the subject of care proceedings, and it is not uncommon for one or both of the birth parents to be hostile to the plan for adoption. However, where an agreement is being contemplated the agency must be satisfied that all parties are fully aware of the implications of entering into such an agreement and its effect. The agency must provide information about the availability of counselling and any fees that may apply, to any person who is considering entering into an agreement. Before making the agreement, the agency must also be satisfied that it is beneficial to the child’s welfare and best interests.
36. AIR 11 does not impose a specific duty on the agency to review the agreement. However, where a person’s views change or where the agency becomes aware of a change of circumstances of any of the parties it should consider the continuing validity of the agreement and, in consultation with those who are party to the agreement, amend or withdraw it. As the adopted child grows older, the agency should also consider if the agreement continues to meet their needs. The agency may consult the child about this where it considers they are of sufficient age and understanding.
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