UK – Ministerial adviser faces hostility over adoption reform report

The UK ministerial adviser on adoption has this week spoken about the passionate responses provoked by his report into the adoption system, which was published on 5 July 2011.

In his report, which was commissioned by The Times, Martin Narey labelled the current adoption process “hopelessly slow” and proposed a series of changes to improve the system, including suggesting that abused children taken away from their parents should live with prospective adoptive parents immediately rather than spend long periods in care.

The report by Mr Narey, who has been made “adoption tsar” by Children’s Minister Tim Loughton, expressed concern about black and ethnic minority children taken into care who cannot be matched with ethnically appropriate couples to adopt them and so remain stuck in the care system. It also drew attention to the difficulties faced by white couples seeking to adopt a black child, who are frequently turned away by adoption services.

Writing on 30 August 2011 in The Times, Mr Narey expressed his surprise at the open hostility that was targeted at him as a result of his report. He said that opponents to adoption had attacked his appearance and educational background and suggested a hidden agenda to remove happy children from perfectly suitable parents. Others within the adoption service felt that his report had devalued their work and had not appreciated the difficulties faced when attempting to arrange an adoption. However, he said that he had received many more messages of support from social workers and adoptive parents.

Mr Narey remains firm in his view that the adoption system needs to be overhauled and that the interests of children must come first. He is scheduled to meet Tim Loughton next week to further develop a series of aims to reform the adoption process.

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