Decision : Closed after initial enquiries
Decision date : 04 Jan 2021
The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: We will not investigate Ms X’s complaint about the Council’s handling of her request to make contact with her daughter, who was adopted. This is because there is no worthwhile outcome achievable by us investigating.
- The complainant, whom I shall call Ms X, complains about the Council’s handling of her request to make contact with her 18-year-old daughter who was placed in care after birth and adopted.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- We can decide whether to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)
- We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
- it is unlikely we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
- it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome, or
- we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I considered the information Ms X provided. I also considered the complaint correspondence which the Council provided in response to our initial enquiries. I sent Ms X a draft of my decision and considered her comments on it.
What I found
- Ms X complains about the Council’s response to her request for help in contacting her 18-year-old daughter who was placed in care after birth and subsequently adopted.
- Ms X was dissatisfied with the Council’s response to her request because she says she was initially told the Council could contact her daughter but was later told it could not. Ms X says she feels she was being ‘fobbed off’ by the Council.
- The Council explained there had been no contact with Ms X’s daughter since she was adopted. It does not contact adults who were adopted to see if they would like contact. It waits for people to make contact, should they wish to do so.
- The Council told Ms X she could place a letter and photographs on file so her daughter could see them if she wished to access the file or contact her in the future. It offered to help Ms X in writing a letter for the file. The Council advised Ms X she could register her details with the Adoption Contact Register so they are available should her daughter choose to seek contact.
- We will not investigate this complaint. This is because there is no worthwhile outcome achievable by us investigating it. We cannot achieve the outcome Ms X seeks, which is for her to be in contact with her daughter. The Council has explained it is a matter solely for Ms X’s daughter to decide whether or not to seek contact. There is nothing further we could add to the Council’s explanation on this.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman