David Holmes CBE, Chief Executive Family Action introduces our new FamilyConnect service, helping adults who have been adopted or in care find answers to questions about their origins.
For people who have been adopted, in care or otherwise separated from their birth families, living with unanswered questions about their past, their family relationships and childhood experiences and their genetic background can be very hard indeed. It can affect people in many different ways and impact on their emotional well-being and sense of identity. It can generate feelings of loss, sadness and frustration about the inability to answer fundamental questions and this can profoundly affect their lives and happiness. It can also affect their families and loved ones. Finding out about their background and about family members can help people to understand why they were separated from their birth families, help them make important life choices and understand any inherited health issues.
Through the work that PAC-UK (Family Action’s adoption support service) undertakes with adopted adults, together with that of our services who work with people who have been in care, Family Action knew that there was a need for an easily accessible service to help guide people to find out information about their early lives and childhoods. A new, national, free at the point of access resource was needed where adopted people and people who had been in care could read and learn, in a very straightforward way, about their legal rights around accessing their birth and care records. We saw the need for a new resource where people in this position could find clear information about what they could expect to receive, helpful guidance on how to go about searching for information in the first place and good advice about how to prepare for that journey.
“Our easy-to-use website, this ground-breaking new service will help not only those who have been adopted or who are adult care leavers”
After working in close consultation with the respected Search and Reunion Consultant, Julia Feast OBE, members of UCL’s MIRRA Project (Memory – Identity – Rights In Records – Access) and the Care Leavers Association, Family Action is delighted to launch “FamilyConnect”. This free service has been set up to assist people who are adopted or have been in care, who are seeking answers to questions about their origins, which in turn will help enable them to move on with their lives in the most positive way.
Through our easy-to-use website, this ground-breaking new service will help not only those who have been adopted or who are adult care leavers, but also has the potential to extend in the future to include those who were born by donor conception or people who have simply lost touch with family members in other circumstances. It provides an opportunity for these individuals to learn how to search for and access records and information that may exist about their past, so that they can hopefully find out more about their family background, their early lives and childhoods and their genetic origins. The website includes guides and pointers about how to begin a search for a family member using public records together with sections on getting started, accessing your records, tracing birth relatives, contacting people from your past and continuing relationships with family. Importantly FamilyConnect also provides comprehensive information and advice about what to expect from the search and reunion process and all of the potential issues and outcomes that may be encountered along the way.
Family Action hopes that the information and advice on the website will also be of great value for professionals working in these areas. We hope that FamilyConnect will become an invaluable service for individuals who may be struggling to come to terms with the past and who are searching for answers and connections to help them move on with their lives. We hope that over time the information and resources on the website will continue to build in strength and depth and that it will help many thousands of people.
To find out more, visit www.familyconnect.org.uk.