Child welfare experts have expressed concern at an alarming drop in the adoption rate.
Between July and September last year, 780 children were placed for adoption. In the same period of 2013, this number was 1,550. While figures for the final quarter of the year are not yet available, The Independent reports that the number has continued to fall.
The lower adoption rates appear to stem from a judgment by President of the Family Division Sir James Munby, in which he criticised the “sloppy practice” in many adoption applications. He also emphasised that adoption should be a last resort in child care cases and that members of a child’s extended biological family should be considered as carers first.
John Simmonds is the director of policy, research and development for the British Association for Adoption and Fostering. He described the impact of this ruling, and others like it, as “deeply worrying”.
He added that research has shown that “the earlier the child is placed the better” when they are taken into care and “if there is delay by six, 12, or 18 months you’re piling risk upon risk”.
Sir James Munby has insisted that his judgment had not changed the law, yet the adoption rate has continued to drop.
Hugh Thornberry, chief executive of national charity Adoption UK, said that “such a marked drop-off in the number of children being considered for adoption” was a cause for concern. As a result, “children aren’t being considered for adoption who should be”, he argued.