Would-be adopters win more rights in attempt to shift balance of power

Prospective adopters will be given more information about children
who are to be placed with them if government proposals go

They will also be allowed to challenge decisions on their
suitability as parents.

Draft adoption agency regulations and suitability of adopters
regulations published last week outline plans to put the needs of
children and adopters at the heart of the adoption system, with
more emphasis on the support agencies can give.

The proposals indicate a growing belief in government that the
balance of power in the adoption system needs to swing more in
favour of the users of services rather than the professionals
delivering them.

The regulations will require adoption agencies to provide
prospective adopters with detailed information on a child’s
circumstances, including their life before adoption, medical
information and legal reports. Adopters are also to be provided
with better and more consistent preparation, support and

Publication of the new regulations follows last year’s court ruling
that Essex Council should compensate a couple for failing to
provide them with adequate information about a boy with behavioural
problems they were planning to adopt. The case has now gone to

Under the regulations, children will also be asked their views on
the proposed care plans and their wishes will be taken into
account, giving them a bigger say in the process than they now

Launching the regulations, children’s minister Margaret Hodge said
there were no blanket bans on who could become adopters.

She said the regulations would make the process “fairer and
friendlier” for prospective adopters, who would have a right to a
review if their adoption agency recommended that they should not be

Meanwhile, the Adoption Register has warned that an audit of
adopters and children from nearly all 200 local authority and
voluntary adoption agencies has revealed a severe shortage of
adopters equipped to help children with emotional or educational
difficulties, attachment problems and other special needs.

Consultation on both documents ends on 1 May 2004. 

– Regulations from www.dfes.gov.uk/consultations

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