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MPs criticise planned adoption law changes

Members of the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights have criticised proposed changes to adoption law set out in the forthcoming Children and Families Bill.

In a detailed report examining the bill, the MPs expressed concern about a new duty that would be placed on local authorities – to consider ‘fostering for adoption’ at an early stage in the care process for children taken from their parents.

‘Fostering for adoption’ would allow prospective adopters to foster children in advance of formal adoption.

According to the MPs, moving this consideration too far forward in the care process could lead to adoption being prioritised over all other options for the children, including ‘kinship care’ with extended family members. This would breach the right of both the child and their family to respect for family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The government insists that the bill was not intended to discriminate against kinships carers. But the Committee remains concerned:

“We welcome the Minister’s reassurance that it is not the Government’s intention that kinship carers should be overlooked as a consequence of the clause in the Bill concerning fostering for adoption. However, we share the concerns expressed by the Children’s Commissioner and others that, whether or not this is the intention, it may be the effect of the clause as the Bill is currently drafted.”

The report also criticises the proposed repeal of a measure requiring local authorities to consider the religious, cultural and linguistic background of children when planning the adoption of children in care. The government had not provided evidence for its claim that the requirement causes delay, they say, and its removal would be incompatible with the the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Jennifer says:

    The losses of adoptees have been ignored by society and legislators for years. I seriously wonder what people are thinking when they suggest that someone who has lost their identity and all familial relationship in childhood is lucky. Adoption is built on losses that most adults cannot possibly imagine. If children lose an opportunity to be brought up by biological relatives as an unintended consequence of this bill, then it is a tragedy.

  2. Lukey says:

    You’re right Jennifer, how can they have not considered this ???

  3. Dana says:

    Adoption should not even be considered if other members of the family wish to raise the child. The problem is the law states that adoption should be the last option but its the first option. Social workers do not work with parents or if they do, and it fails, they don’t work with extended family. If they become embroiled in care proceedings they are set up to fail. Decisions made are not within the existing law so not much hope for family when there is so much bias against them. Grandparents should be assisted to look after their grandchildren in the first instance. If that option fails then fall back on the care system. In both adoption & fostering the financial considerations skew what would really be in the best interests of the children. If social workers have targets they should be for how many families retain their children not how many are taken away, which shows more bias against the family. Keeping a child within its family should be the goal but whilst that is what’s stated the reality is very different!

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