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John Tris

John Triseliotis

Diploma in Psychiatric Social Work 1960

John Triseliotis grew up in a small village in the Troodos mountains of Cyprus. His family grew fruit and grapes on the hillside terraces. After school, he went to teacher training college and was a teacher as follows:

1949-1950 Philousa (Paphos District)

1950-1952 Phini (Limassol District)

1952-1953 Yerakies (Nicosia District)

He subsequently moved into social welfare, coming to the UK in 1956 to join the Cyprus High Commission. He studied the Psychiatric Social Work course at Edinburgh between 1959 and 1960; his tutor was Vivienne Laughton, later to become his wife.

John returned to Cyprus in the early 1960s. This was followed by a period spent in child guidance, in London, at which time he became interested in family therapy. He was appointed Lecturer in Social Work at Edinburgh University in 1965, embarking on research as well as teaching - he was passionate about the need for social work to build its foundation through research. He was later awarded a personal Chair in Social Work.

John wrote extensively and was a well-known authority on children and families. In 1973, his PhD research was published as In Search of Origins by Routledge and Kegan Paul. "This became a key text and remains a touchstone for researchers to this day" (Malcolm Hill, obituary in the Scotsman). The findings were made known before publication to the Houghton committee, which examined whether there was a need to significant changes to adoption legislation in England and Wales. The Houghton Report recommended that adopted people should be able to see on their adoption certificate, the name of the agency that had placed them and, once they were over 18, be entitled to make contact with that agency and obtain a copy of their birth certificate. Adoption agencies should be under an obligation to keep their records for 75 years. These recommendations were enacted through the Children Act 1975 and similar provisions apply to this day. John's work was highly influential in the setting up, in 1984, of Birthlink’s Adoption Contact Register for Scotland, a database that enables adopted persons and family members to trace one another and make contact.

John died on 29 September 2012 aged 83. In May, 2014, BAAF produced a volume of selected writings by him on adoption, fostering and childcare.

Sources:; obituary The Scotsman, 17 July 2014; interview with Vivienne Triseliotis; further information supplied by Paul Triseliotis, 04/04/17 and 14/04/17.