Women from troubled backgrounds who agree to have the babies taken into temporary foster care run the risk of losing them permanently a charity has claimed.
Following a freedom of information request the Family Rights Group discovered that 127 such babies have been placed with foster carers who have already been accredited as adopters. No less than 111 of these were less than six week old.
Although no figures are available for subsequent permanent adoption, the group believes that under the fostering for adoption scheme a significant number of mothers risk losing their children via “by stealth”. As the name suggests, the scheme allows prospective adopters to foster children before formal adoption.
Vulnerable mothers may not understand the possible consequences before agreeing to temporary foster care they insist. Many are seriously disadvantaged by a lack of access to legal advice, said the charity’s chief executive, Cathy Ashley.
“It is much harder to get a baby back than it is to keep a baby when it’s not been removed. So it can be adoption by stealth.”
Before the introduction of fostering for adoption, The Guardian reports, most such mothers could reclaim fostered children if they chose to do so.