UK adoption reform a must

As reported in July Martin Narey has been appointed by the government to review and revive adoption in the UK.

Mr Narey the former head of the UK Prison Service and former chief executive of Barnado’s was appointed to reform adoption and encourage more UK adoptions each year.

The level of adoptions in the UK has been falling steadily for the past 10 years.

The aim is to reform adoption by issuing new guidelines to local authorities and social workers. Of particular concern is the low level of adoptions in the UK of children from ethnic minorities.

This is blamed on a policy whereby those working in adoption resist placing ethnic minority children with white parents. Preferring to wait for the perfect possible match.

However, the actual result of this policy is that only 10% of children from ethnic minorities in care are actually adopted, compared to 35% of white children.

Children from ethic minorities are in effect being denied the chance to join and become part of a normal family. They remain in the care system and in some cases only leave it once they become adults.

The guidelines are intended to introduce change and to stop this inequality.

However, Mr Narey has encountered both resistance to change and outright hostility.

If guidelines do not work then legislation is the only option.

The government should now consider this as the best (and only) way to change methods, which are frankly backward, and possibly racist.

Ethnic minority children are suffering “adoption apartheid”.

There are concerns about white families adopting ethnic minority children, concerns about race, culture and religion.

Even minor practical matters – how many white people know how to care for black hair? – probably not many. This sort of concern may seem ridiculous, but it is important.

The good news is that these everyday issues are very simple to address and informing and educating prospective adopting parents is a simple process.

Concerns about religion could be more problematic. However those giving a child up for adoption should not be allowed to dictate in too much detail. To be perfectly blunt, they will no longer have a say in their child’s future.

We need more adoption in the UK and the process must be reformed – reform is the only option.