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

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

Richard White

White and Sherwin Solicitors



More from Community Care

Comments are closed.