Monday, February 1, 2016

UK news: Cameron aims to accelerate adoption process

Adoption is not the main focus of this column from David Brooks on what American conservatives could learn from David Cameron, but he does mention it in passing as a Tory proposal:
[Cameron] believes government can play a role in rebuilding social capital and in healing some of the traumas fueled by scarcity and family breakdown. He laid out a broad agenda: Strengthen family bonds with shared parental leave and a tax code that rewards marriage. Widen opportunities for free marital counseling. Speed up the adoption process. [et al.]
There's more and better information in this story from the BBC.
Mr Cameron's statement means all councils are now required to reveal how many children go to live with their adoptive families early. These schemes can cut by half the time families have to wait for the legal process to be completed, ministers believe. ...
The government also plans tougher regulations to ensure councils carry out stringent assessments on special guardianship orders, where children go to live with relatives. This is to avoid the risk of children being placed with "distant unsuitable relations they have never met", in the words of the announcement by the prime minister's office. The announcement also includes plans to boost regional adoption agencies where councils merge to give children access to up to 10 times as many prospective adopters.
In the case of children orphaned without surviving parents or next of kin, or removed from abusive homes, I think the adoption plank makes sense. However, many adoption critics would point out—and I agree—that it is bad policy to incentivize adoption without offering the level of aid to parents (especially mothers) in difficult circumstances that might allow them to raise children rather than placing them for adoption.

That doesn't seem to be the point of these changes at all, which are focused more on cutting down paperwork while also making sure that measures are taken to ensure that children can only be adopted by non-abusive homes. But the social conditions that lead to parents feeling pressured to place children for adoption in circumstances where they might otherwise choose not to are varied. It's a growing commonplace of adoption reformers that maintaining social support for the most vulnerable parents deserves notional primacy over facilitating the adoption process.

It's also interesting here that adoption here seems to refer entirely to domestic adoption—in contrast with the U.S., which has had a high ratio of international adoptions to domestic adoptions since the Second World War. International adoption is a kind of migration, though this is often overlooked; it would be interesting to hear how international adoption is faring in Britain—and even more desirable to have a history of international adoption in Britain to complement the work that has been done in America. 

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