In Re T (Minors) (Adopted Children: Contact): CA 8 Aug 1995

A half-sister had been assured that when her half-sister was adopted she would be given annual reports as to her progress. No report was provided. When she enquired and complained, she was told that the adopters had changed their minds and that it was not in the children’s interests for the report to be provided. Furthermore, confidentiality precluded any explanation of the reasons for that refusal. She applied to the court for leave to make an application for contact. The judge refused it. She appealed.
Held: She succeeded. The court balanced carefully on the one hand the right of an adoptive family to protection of confidentiality and their right to bring up the adopted child in the way that they thought appropriate, and the inappropriateness of enforcing informal arrangements which might no longer be appropriate and which therefore fell to the prospective adopters to terminate. On the other hand, for the applicant it was argued that if this decision was allowed to stand it meant that adoptive parents could effectively ignore any agreement entered into in the best interests of the child in question, and that that would in fact result in more contests and more difficulties in prospective applications. The court came down firmly in favour of the latter proposition. Guidelines were given on procedures for maintaining parental contact after adoption order. Reasons beyond ‘not in Child’s interest’ are to be given before contact may be withdrawn. Balcombe LJ: ‘I am not saying that it should never be open to adopters to change their minds and resile from an informal agreement made at the time of the adoption. But if they do so they should, as Butler-Sloss LJ said in In re T (A Minor) (Contact After Adoption) [1995] 2 FCR 537, 543 give their reasons clearly so that the other party to the arrangement, and if necessary the court, may have the opportunity to consider the adequacy of those reasons. Nor need adopters fear that their reasons, when given, will be subjected to critical legal analysis. The judges who hear family cases are well aware of the stresses and strains to which adopters in the position of Mr and Mrs H are subject and a simple explanation of their reasons in non-legal terms would usually be all that is necessary. In my judgment where adopters in the position of Mr and Mrs H simply refuse to provide an explanation for their change of heart, particularly where, as here, the contact envisaged – the provision of a report – is of a nature which is most unlikely to be disruptive of the children’s lives, it is not appropriate for the court to accept that position without more.’
Balcombe LJ
Times 08-Aug-1995, Independent 23-Aug-1995, [1996] Fam 34
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedIn re R (a Child) (Adoption: Contact) CA 18-Aug-2005
The child was placed for adoption. In the period before adoption, contact with her family continued. The prospective adopters said that this was unsettling.
Held: It would be unusual to make an order for contact against the wishes of the . .
CitedIn re R (A Child) CA 18-Aug-2005
An application was made for continued contact after a proposed adoption. The mother was young and had herself lost her family and taken into care when very young.
Held: Her request for permission to appeal failed. Wall LJ ‘I am reasonably . .
CitedOxfordshire County Council v X and Others CA 27-May-2010
The LA, the guardian and adoptive parents appealed against an order that they should provide to the parents an annual photograph of the child. They contended that an image should only be made available to be viewed at the authority’s offices . .

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Updated: 04 June 2021; Ref: scu.82227