ADOPTION: PUTTING THE CHILD FIRST.
During the early days of Cameron’s premiership, he made it clear he wanted adoption to become an easier process for prospective parents. Naturally an easier process for adoption seems like a positive move – where children are homed sooner and all the troubles and problems of their past can be sooner put behind them as they embark on a more normalized life. But is there more to it than that? Perhaps taking our time over allocating society’s most vulnerable children, with a compatible and loving family, isn’t that crazy. Cameron’s motives might be considered questionable, as his proposed system costs less. Granted, his changes could well produce a win-win system where we save more and more children are happily homed. Yet, if the motivation isn’t financial, then why haven’t we done it sooner?
On the 4th February 2013 parliament was presented with the ‘Children and Families Bill Website’, a website where the public can voice their opinions on the proposed legislation for adoption services. The three take home clauses of the bill include ‘fostering for adoption’, whereby carers take on infants, having already been approved as a prospective adoption carers, before the courts have even decided whether they’re going up for adoption or not. The second clause involves making it easier for potential carers to adopt children who are of different ethnicity or religious orientation etc. Lastly, making it harder, if not impossible, for adopted children to have some form of contact with their birth parents, in order to maintain stability. The first two have many pros and cons. If fostering can lead to adoption, then that is a brilliant prospect. Adoption is much more stable and gives carers more freedoms. However, adoption isn’t funded by the government once a child is allocated, fostering, however, is. This may lower the amount of carers taking on children, in order to be able to provide for them. Also, what if parents aren’t ready to adopt a child, surely being a foster carer is better than a parentless infant? The second clause potentially allows for a loving carer to take on a child in need, regardless of their ethnicity or religion. However, many of the children in the adoption and foster care system are damaged beyond belief and need a certain type of family to meet their needs. This is less likely to happen when carers are quickly matched up with infants prior to a court decision. Stability is key and this is hard to accomplish when the process is so quick and the criteria so short.
We therefore need an equilibrium between it being impossible to adopt a child for multiple reasons, against anyone being able to foster or adopt, regardless of a child’s needs. Reform is necessary, for too long vulnerable children haven’t been matched with loving homes quickly enough. Obscene factors currently affect the granting of adoption and fostering rights. Being a non-smoker, having an especially safe home, along with a certain political preference, have all been required in order to be granted with guardianship. Factors which wouldn’t matter had that child been born into the family anyway. But that is not the same as ignoring the children’s needs altogether and rubber-stamping application forms. The child’s needs are the single most important thing when making decisions in the fostering and adoption care system. The cost shouldn’t be the primary motive, but a faster and more efficient foster care system with the cut of menial red tape shouldn’t be dismissed.
Let’s hope MPs take into account the difficulties of a child in care’s life and grant them the necessary legislation. Allowing them to be loved by a caring family, as soon as possible. Let’s hope that they understand that taking care over placements often leads to placements lasting longer. Let’s not sacrifice a brilliant service, simply to ease current economic problems. Ultimately, we have a duty to these children; lets not cut corners, lets cut out-dated, menial red tape.