Adoption laws in Northern Ireland are have “not been fit for purpose for many years”, a charity has claimed.
Priscilla McLoughlin is Northern Ireland Director for the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) said adoption legislation in the province “does not fit with contemporary family life” and was 30 years out of date.
“Only in Northern Ireland can a birth parent specify the religion in which they would like a child placed for adoption to be brought up. And the current process whereby children in the care system are made subject to Freeing Orders, which dispenses with parental agreement, is recognised as degrading and stigmatising for birth parents and at odds with human rights legislation.”
Northern Ireland has an adoption only around half that of the rest of the UK, and over 250 children living in the province have been there for more than 10 years. However, the adoption rate has been increasing – 93 children were adopted last year, close to twice as many as in the previous five years.
BAAF has urged greater efforts to adopt recruit potential adopters in the region.
A government spokesman said:
“It should be noted that adoption is not suitable for all children in care. For example, at today’s date adoptive placements are being sought for only 20 children out of the total looked-after children population. There is a growing practice of children being ‘fostered’ by relatives or friends and in those circumstances adoption is unlikely to be the best option.”