This week is National Adoption Week, but you would scarcely know it unless this is a topic which interests you personally as there has been virtually no national media coverage about it, especially compared to last year’s amazing headlines featuring campaigner Francesca Polini.
This is very disappointing news for passionate adoption reform campaigners like Francesca who want more children to be placed with loving and supportive families rather than being left to languish in care homes.
This week Francesca and her supporters launched a new campaign group, Adopt a Better Way, rebranded from their previous group, Adoption with Humanity, with a report which highlights findings about why adoption reforms are vital for improving the lives of disadvantaged young people, particularly those in care.
The report highlights:
- Adoption rates are their lowest in ten years
- The number of children waiting to be adopted has increased by 15%
- A child over the age of 8 has only a 1% chance of being adopted
- It takes an average of 2.7 years for a child to be placed with a family after they have been accepted
- Compared with 10% of the general population, 45% of children in care are assessed as having a mental health disorder
- Twenty seven per cent of children in care have special educational needs compared with 3% of the general child population
- Compared to 86% of all 19 year olds, fewer than 40% of children in care in London are in education or employment at 19
As a result, Adopt a Better Way is calling for the government to intervene in order to facilitate:
- A breakdown of bureaucracy between boroughs, to allow children and prospective parents a greater chance of coming together
- An end to contradictory and opposing decisions by local authorities that are to the detriment of the child
- A central body with the authority and power to enforce guidelines, and laws to put the interests of the children first.
Adopt a Better Way is particularly grateful for the support of Baroness King of Bow, Oona King, the Labour peer who has adopted three children, and all supporters for their immense help this week. You may have seen some of the posters in London highlighting the campaign where the Baroness and Francesca met for the photo; these posters were donated.
Oona said: “If we were just able to break down the walls and bureaucracy between the different boroughs, that alone would make huge difference to the adoption chances of some children and also their prospective parents. There are enough obstacles in the system as it is.”
Francesca added: “It’s a crisis situation. We know that the younger a child is, the greater the likelihood of adoption taking place and the greater the chance that adoption will be successful.”
We must keep adoption as a high profile topic to remind everyone of the urgent reforms that need to be made, and how we must place the needs of these young children above the bureaucratic system that currently exists.