Social workers have accused children’s minister Tim Loughton of making “sweeping statements” and “ill-thought out” comments about inter-racial adoptions.
Earlier this week, Loughton told Community Care that “hints of political correctness” were hindering the speed and success of adoptions, and urged social workers not to insist on waiting for a “dream ethnic match” before placing a child for adoption. He later told The Times there was “no reason at all” why white couples should not adopt black, Asian or mixed-heritage children.
A statement from the Department for Education (DfE) yesterday stated that the messages about inter-racial adoptions would be included in updated statutory guidance on adoption.
But the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) rejected his comments. “What is being overlooked is the evidence that while some transracial adoptions work, many have had a profoundly negative impact on children’s development and identity formation,” said Nushra Mansuri, professional officer at BASW.
“While it’s essential that a prospective parent can provide love and a secure base, these are not the only factors needing consideration, a parent also needs to provide a sense of belonging that is key to a child’s identity, self-esteem and development and will affect how they mature into adults.
“It’s a fact that we don’t have enough adopters from diverse communities and we need to look at this and make the system more inclusive – we should also be looking at why there is an over-representation of black children in the care system in the first place and addressing issues of inequality and discrimination to prevent this,” Mansuri said.
Jonathan Pearce, chief executive of the charity Adoption UK, agreed with the minister that, although important, “children’s race and ethnicity should not be the overriding factor” when planning adoptions.
But he said existing adoption legislation and guidance already made this clear, adding that it was unclear whether new or updated guidance would make any difference.
Pearce said: “In Adoption UK’s experience, there is variable practice across the UK, but it would be wrong to say that all agencies block transracial placements. This is a training and practice issue for some agencies.”
A DfE spokesperson comfirmed there would be no new guidance, but that the minister’s message would be highlighted in updated statutory adoption guidance due shortly.
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