Working Contract Birth Relative Process

Please read this contract carefully as it contains important information regarding our work with you.

Our Ofsted Intermediary Service is registered and inspected by Ofsted as Outstanding.  Our Statement of Purpose and last Ofsted report are available for view on our website.  https://www.joannanorth.co.uk/

The goal of this work is to help you find a relative from whom you are separated through adoption.  We will work diligently towards that goal.  However we have to make you aware of things that may impede progress such as,

  • The result of our search may mean that the relative does not wish to be in touch with you
  • The relative may be deceased
  • The relative may be involved in difficult life circumstances which means contact is not possible at the present time

We cannot change these outcomes, and our experience has shown us that some people become disappointed at this point in our search together.   Please be re-assured that your experience, and the way we work with you and support you is of primary importance to us, and because of this we offer some counselling within the fee you have already paid.

The Adoption and Children Act of 2002 came into force in 2005. The Act provides a pathway for both adopted people and birth relatives to seek information about people involved, with a provision included for people involved in the adoption to receive counselling. This will support you during the process of sharing or receiving information, given that this can be an emotional process and the outcomes are unpredictable.

Counselling can help you understand how any new information discovered, and the possible outcomes, could affect you. It will ensure you are ready to cope with them. Whilst you can be assured that we will be using our skills to trace your relative, we do have to prepare you for the situation that you may not get the outcome you wish for.

The most common outcomes are below,

  • The person is found and is happy to have contact.
  • The person is found and you find the relationship is more complex than you had anticipated.
  • The person is found but does not want to have direct contact right now, but will share information
  • The person is found but does not wish to have any contact under any circumstances
  • The person is found but has passed away
  • The person cannot be located

Although we are experienced in ensuring positive outcomes, in truth we cannot control them or the time it takes, as there are many organisations and parties involved in the search. We appreciate that it can be an anxious time for you to wait for this information. Both the positive and any negative responses can be equally challenging, hence the counselling service is available should you feel you require it at any point of your journey with us.

If this is something you would like to follow up on, please let us know and we will make the arrangements for you.

The Process of our Work.  What service are we providing for your money?

Payment

Payment for the full process is £1347.

The initial payment £349 has been made. The final payment of £998 is due when the subject is located, or in instalments as agreed at the start of your contract.  All payments include VAT if you are in the United Kingdom.

These fees are payable regardless of the outcome of the search. This includes

  • If a person is found to be deceased
  • If they do not wish to have contact
  • Or in certain cases where the process is not seen through to a conclusion i.e. we do not locate the subject or attempt contact.  You will be notified clearly of the reasons for this.

Why do I need to pay the fee when these outcomes happen?

Our process is thorough and labour intensive and we are committed to the correct and legal process of the work regardless of the outcome.  What we can guarantee is our focused, high quality attention to this process at all times.   Our aim during this process is to support you continuously, and this includes professional counselling if required.

Our Process

Step One – Consultation

Provide a consultation to assess the current situation and establish if we are able to help you.  Ascertain if there are any reasons that would preclude us from contacting the subject. Discuss any counselling requirements with you.

Step Two – Verification and documents

We are legally required to verify your identity and potential relationship to the subject of the search.

Step Three – Obtaining information

Work to obtain information in order to assist us in the tracing of your birth relative.  The end result of which we hope to be the confirmed location of your birth relative.  This would usually be current contact information or record of their death, if they have passed away. 

Step Four – Contacting the Adoption Agency

We will contact the agency which dealt with your adoption or the agency who now holds your adoption records.  If you do not know who the agency was, we will try and identify them.  We do this to seek any useful information that may be held and to understand if any contact has been made between the agency and any birth relatives since the time of the adoption. 

Step Five – Contact

Where appropriate we will attempt contact with the subject of your search. Agree on arrangements for contact or report back to you if this is not possible.

Step Six – Counselling

At this stage, and if required, a counselling consultation is available to you and/or the subject of the search.

Step Seven – Reporting back to you

A report of our work will be provided where contact is not possible.  This may include some information about your birth relative but certain details may be omitted to respect their wishes where contact is not wanted.

Step Eight – Closing down and agency work on your behalf

At the end of our work it is our Statutory Duty to record our work with you and report back to any adoption agency with whom we have been in contact. 

We are required by law to keep a record of our work with you in a data safe environment and this can only be made available to other Adoption Agencies for valid reasons. 

Information in your report

This will vary by outcome. If we have your relatives consent you will receive a full report. If not then we will provide you with as much information as we can in line with the latest adoption law, Ofsted guidelines and data protection law.

Notes

In exceptional circumstances, such as where a relative has moved abroad, we reserve the right to request further payments to cover the cost of unforeseen additional work.  However this would always be agreed with you beforehand and you would not be obliged to continue.

Whilst counselling is part of our work with you this is not an ongoing service following completion of the search.  However we do guide and signpost our customers to local counselling services in their area if it is needed following completion.

The Adoption Contact Register

You can add yourself to the Adoption Contact Register at the General Register Office to:

  • find a birth relative or an adopted person
  • say you don’t want to be contacted

This is not a tracing service – for a connection to be made between people, you must both be on the Adoption Contact Register.

For more information about this see our PDF Guide…. Or go to

https://www.gov.uk/adoption-records/the-adoption-contact-register

Diversity

Please confirm any Diversity Needs. This is so that we can provide a service that is equal to all.

Would you like us to know about any of the following during the search process that could impact or affect the service we are offering you?

Examples would be, but are not limited to,

Ethnic, Racial or cultural origin, Physical Disability, Sexual Orientation, Religious, Transgender or Age.

Our Duty of Care to You.

So that we can support you effectively please let us know about any vulnerabilities that would help us to help you, such as current mental health problems, health problems or physical or learning disability.  We also need to know if you have any concerns about safeguarding children or adults during this process so that we can keep everybody safe.

Some of the things that would help us to know if you are safe

  1. Do your current family know about your search for a relative, for example, your children and partner?  Are they supportive?  We ask this so that we can evaluate how much support you have or need. 
  2. As far as you are aware was there any jeopardy or danger involved at the time that you were adopted i.e. did any birth parent/sibling have criminal convictions, was there any domestic violence or abuse, or were you harmed in any way.    We ask this so that we can ensure this is a safe process for you.
  3. Are you aware of any other complex or distressing circumstances before adoption that you would like us to know about?   
  4. Do you have any current paperwork or papers appertaining to your adoption that may help us establish whether or not this person wishes to be contacted?  We ask this as we have a duty to ensure that people are not contacted if they do not wish to be.
  5. Are there any gender or sexual orientation issues of which we should be aware, i.e. have you or to the best of your knowledge anybody we are contacting changed gender?  We ask this so that we can be as sensitive as possible about this matter, and of course it may influence the finding process.
  6. Did your birth, to the best of your knowledge, take place within a different country or culture, where daily life or practices such as religion may be different to your own?  It would help us to know about this so that we can be aware of how these differences may affect people, and so we can be sensitive to the requirements of the people involved. 
  7. Aside from the person we are tracing, is there likely to be anybody else whom we might find to whom you are related in this process?  For example, additional siblings, cousins.     If this were to be the case how would you feel about this?
  8. Are there any health issues that make you vulnerable and extra sensitive at the current time that you would like us to know about? 
  9. Are there any mental health issues that might make you vulnerable at this time, for example depression or anxiety or any history of suicide within the family of origin?   Obviously, this is private information and you do not have to tell us about this.  We ask as we have a duty of care to support you if this process makes you feel more vulnerable. 
  10. Did your adoptive parents give you any information about your adoption process that may help us?  Did you have a life story book? Or did you make a life story of your own?
  11. What is your biggest fear about this process?  Do let us know so that we can ensure that we re-assure you. Do we need this question? If so should we change the wording and remove ‘fear’? Maybe use ‘concern’? I think this is covered by no 12 below and should be removed.
  12. We do need to make you aware of the possibility of many conflicting emotions that may arise when birth family are found.  These can often be positive, but there may also be disappointments.  Let us know if you need help as we have much advice and support to give.  
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