The government is “obsessed” with adoption, a Labour Minister has claimed.
Shadow Children’s Minister Emma Lewell-Buck said the government had spent a “staggering amount” of time and money on adoption and had prioritised it “to the detriment of all other forms of care”. The MP for South Shields spoke as the controversial Children and Social Work Bill reached committee stage.
Citing more than 20 changes of policy on adoption over the last six years, Lewell-Buck declared:
“What the government should be doing is advocating the form of care that is right for every child, not what they believe is right.”
She spoke out against a clause in the draft legislation which would mean adoption authorities would have to give consideration to any established relationship between the vulnerable child and prospective adopters. Lewell-Buck claimed this could mean prospective adopters being prioritised over blood relatives, Children & Young People Now reports, and children being placed with them before other prospects had been fully explored – for example, friends or extended family members “who actually love the child and are doing their best to keep that child in their care”.
Siblings could be separated, she suggested , or families broken, leading to “trauma and grief”.
But committee members voted eight to five to retain the clause. Children’s Minister Edward Timpson insisted that Lewell-Buck’s claims did not stand up to scrutiny, and that the government had simply been trying to accelerate and simplify the adoption process when it was the right choice for a particular child.
Family courts were, he added, already had to “consider the wishes of family members and consider their views“.
Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck by Shields Gazette via Wikipedia