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UK seeking adopters from all walks of life

30th Oct 2020
UK seeking adopters from all walks of life

 Vicky Ford MP, Children’s Minister (Photo credit: Richard Townshend/UK Parliament)

Hamed Chapman

The British Government is seeking to encourage more parents from all walks of life to adopt homeless children even though it no longer recommends ethnic, religious and cultural matches for adoptive placements.

“We need to make it clear you can adopt regardless of your ethnic or religious background. It is very clear in our guidance to local authorities that they shouldn’t prioritise on the ethnic group over another ethnic group,” Children’s Minister, Vicky Ford, said.

“We need adopters from all walks of life,” Ford said in a virtual interview with The Muslim News Editor, Ahmed J Versi, on October 14, as a new recruitment campaign was launched during National Adoption Week that will reach out to churches, mosques and other community groups starting with a pilot service in London and Birmingham.

She said that the government wanted to “encourage more parents to come forward to help find those loving and forever homes for children,” while pointing out that the “sad fact is that Black. Asian and ethnic minority children often wait for the longest to be adopted, and we need to help to improve this.”

The recruiting campaign comes as Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, called for the “overhaul of the overly bureaucratic adoption system,” arguing that, “we must end this obsession with finding the perfect ethnic match for children.”

“Too many lifestyle judgements” are made on potential adopters, with the consequence that there are not enough adoptive parents to go around and that the shortfall resulted in children being “bounced around the system,” Williamson said.

In England, it is estimated that there are around 1,800 families who are approved adopters — some single and some are couples — but that there are 2,400 children mostly under 5 years who need a home. Among the shortfall of 600, some 450 are children with BAME backgrounds, including 240 who have been waiting over 18 months since entering care.

Yet, despite the drive for more diverse adopters, the government abolished the previous recommendation for ethnic and cultural matches in adoptive placements in the Children’s Act 2014. It also does not publish data that includes religious heritage for unknown reasons.

Ford said she wanted to make clear that it is easier to adopt than many people think and used the example that adopters’ ethnic or religious background “shouldn’t be a barrier.” The most important thing is to “provide that loving, stable home for the child. That is what children want. They don’t care about a certain background, certain faith, a certain type of houses.”

With research suggesting the opposite, the Minister was challenged about such findings that included a Muslim boy being disruptive when placed with non-Muslim parents but settled down when placed with Muslim carers. She accepted that adopting can be very challenging and that some children have been very traumatised early in their lives.

“Which is why they need this love and stability. The carers know that the trauma can impact on the child’s life later. That is why we put money into ‘Adoption Support Fund.’ We have put £175 million into it, it has helped over 60,000 families,” she insisted.

Ford also argued that the other thing the Government has been doing was centralising its policy as it has with so many issues, claiming that the approach by some local authorities created “such myths actually” and to bring them into line under a national strategy by establishing regional adoptions agencies.

In his speech, Williamson also emphasised the importance of the regional agencies working side by side with voluntary agencies and in monitoring local authorities. So far 25 are operating across the country covering 119 local authorities with the hope that there will be 30 by the end of next March covering all 151.

Ford insisted that it was “incredibly important that we have sensitivity towards people of different cultures, different religions, and that is why we encourage communities to work very closely with regional local agencies.” This included “doing lots of work with religious communities including the Muslim communities,” she said.

 

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