Just about everyone who becomes involved with the adoption process is surprised by how Local Authority bureaucracy and petty minded political correctness is putting off couples who want to adopt. This is reflected in the number of adoptions, which have fallen by 17% in England to just 3,050, over the last decade. Furthermore, only 2% of children are placed in homes before the age of one, and the average adoption takes two and a half years.
But is it any surprise that adoption figures are so low when we hear stories such as the recently highlighted case in which one couple were seemingly banned from adopting because the flex on their kettle was too long, therefore presenting a health and safety risk?
Of course, there needs to be a process to ensure that any placement is safe and that the adoptive parents will be good parents, but the dogma at social work level is placing too much emphasis on health and safety and other such ‘politically correct’ concerns.
The Education Secretary Michael Gove yesterday called for “radical’ reform of the adoption process; blaming the “bloated” assessment process prospective adoptive parents have to endure for the deflated adoption figures.
In a speech made yesterday, Mr Gove, who himself was adopted at four months old, announced that an Action Plan on adoption will be unveiled next month; aimed at reducing the amount of red tape which is causing problems in the current system, with the overall aim of boosting adoption rates. The new rules will reportedly also see a ban in the prevention of children being adopted by parents of different ethnic backgrounds, and a more open approach to adoption applications from homosexual couples and single people. This appears to be a particularly important and much-needed step; surely a good parent is a good parent whatever their background?
In my view the numbers of children in care awaiting adoption is a national scandal. Mr Gove’s announcement of new rules, that appear to cut through the process and achieve a faster result for potential adoptees and a fair process for potential adopters, must therefore be welcomed.