Does the new adoption bill put children first?

    It really looks as if we might get a new Adoption Bill
    introduced into Parliament seven years after the last one fell. It
    is said that it will be pushed through with all party support. None
    of the central issues, however, are as simple as is suggested.

    Putting the needs of the child at the centre of the adoption
    process is important. Adoption law should be aligned with the
    Children Act 1989. But will making the child’s welfare the
    paramount concern in all decisions to do with adoption receive
    unanimous approval? Can parental agreement be dispensed with on the
    basis solely that it is the best solution for the child? At the
    least human rights principles will have to be applied to ensure
    that adoption is the order proportionate to the circumstances of
    the case.

    We have to encourage more people to adopt looked after children
    by helping to ensure the support they need. But will the
    encouragement be mere window dressing? Will it mean more than a
    basic adoption allowance rather less than the current fostering
    allowance? Will local authorities still behave as if they are
    blaming adopters for problems in the adoptive placement, when in
    reality they should be assisting with therapy to deal with the
    child’s pre-placement experiences?

    Building confidence in the adoption process means providing
    expeditious and experienced courts, both judiciary and staff. It is
    said that there is an intention to limit the number of judges
    hearing adoption applications. This would be a step in the right
    direction, but they will still need to make the time for
    hearings.

    If there is to be an independent review mechanism for applicants
    who believe they have been turned down unfairly, it must be closely
    controlled. There is little evidence that there are failed
    applicants who should not have been refused. Requiring agencies to
    spend precious time on responding to appeals is of doubtful benefit
    to the system. How would successful appellants be managed
    thereafter?

    Richard White

    White and Sherwin Solicitors

     

     

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