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Useless Reform

December 26, 2011 permalink

Britain has announced reforms to expand adoption. Adoptive parents will no longer be rejected because of race, obesity or a past history of smoking.

These sound like good reforms for people who think only of rules and not motives. But they will have no real effect. The operators of foster care are paid by the child, and are not about to give up their cash-cows to adoptive parents. We can expect to continue seeing cases like Claudia Connell, rejected as an adoptive parent for frivolous reasons.



At last, couples freed from 'slow and unnecessarily bureaucratic' system that blocks adoption

The red tape used by social workers to prevent couples from adopting children will finally be swept away by common sense reforms, ministers said today.

They condemned the current system as ‘slow and unnecessarily bureaucratic’ and for leaving thousands of children abandoned in state care.

Would-be parents have frequently been prevented from adopting children because they were the wrong race, overweight, or because in the past they had smoked.

Chloe and Katie
Seeking adoption: Chloe, nine, and Katie, six. In September this year a devastating set of figures showed numbers of children in care had passed 65,000

Couples who have looked to adopt have complained they were insulted and abused during the assessment process.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton announced the overhaul which will see a panel of experts devise a new system for choosing adoptive parents.

He said: ‘Children are waiting too long because we are losing many potentially suitable adoptive parents to a system which doesn’t welcome them and often turns them away at the door.’

He added: ‘The assessment process for people wanting to adopt is painfully slow, repetitive and ineffective.’

The reform pledge follows months of deepening anger among Tory ministers at the failure of social workers to put their own house in order, despite overwhelming evidence that a high proportion of children in care have been wrongly denied the chance of a better life with a new family.

In September official figures showed that the number of adoptions of children from care had fallen so low that only 60 babies were found new families in the course of a year.

In October, David Cameron ordered a name and shame campaign against councils where social workers delay or derail adoptions.

There have never been any published figures on the numbers of couples turned away for spurious reasons or because of the apartheid-style rules social workers use to decide which families are racially fit to adopt.

But this week adoption agencies reported a surge in applications after a BBC Panorama programme told the stories of six children desperate to find new homes.

In the 1970s around 20,000 children a year, many born to single mothers, were adopted by new families.

Numbers plunged in the 1980s alongside improved benefits and free housing for young single mothers, and the development of an anti-adoption mentality among social workers.

Over a 12-month period to March this year only 3,050 children were adopted from the care system (picture posed by models)

mother father and baby posed by models
Over a 12-month period to March this year only 3,050 children were adopted from the care system (picture posed by models)

Social work chiefs decided that they ‘no longer want to see babies farmed out to middle class mothers’.

Race rules were taken up which said a child could not go to a new family unless they were a close ethnic match. But little independent evidence supports the contention that people cannot bring up a child from a different racial background.

In September this year a devastating set of figures showed numbers of children in care had passed 65,000.

Those growing up in state care – children’s homes or temporary foster care – suffer a high risk of leaving school without qualifications and going on to lives of joblessness and crime.

But over a 12-month period to March this year only 3,050 children were adopted from the care system, 5 per cent down on 2010 and 8 per cent down since 2007.

The new panel of experts will include representatives of organisations which have been deeply involved in sustaining the old, discredited process.

However it will work under the guidance of Martin Narey, the Government’s adoption adviser, who has been among the strongest critics of the social worker bias against adoption.

Mr Narey said: ‘The more I have visited local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies over the last few months, the more exercised I have become about a parental assessment process which is not fit for purpose.

'It meanders along, it is failing to keep pace with the number of children cleared for adoption, and it drives many outstanding couples to adopt from abroad.’

The panel will consider a recruitment process which will not see couples coming forward being ‘lost to the system’.

It will be asked to speed bureaucracy and stop ‘over-prescription regarding information collected about prospective adopters’.


Adoption bureaucracy was illustrated in a documentary which showed children left waiting years for their future to be settled.

One child was shown being returned to state care just a fortnight after being adopted.

Another group of a brother and two sisters left their adoptive family after living with them for three years, and are likely to be split up if they are to be adopted again.

Adoption agencies said there had been a rush of couples coming forward to offer a home to a child following the BBC Panorama documentary.

David Holmes, of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said: ‘We need more people to consider whether they could give a home to a child through adoption.’

The documentary said some adoptions break down but no information is collected to try to prevent future breakdowns.

Source: Daily Mail