The story of how the number of adoptions have plummeted due to IVF treatment success has been highly reported over the weekend and highlights again, the huge demand for more adopters for children waiting. It also shows the incredible advances in IVF medicine which is such positive news.
However, as an adoption agency we do not agree with some of the commentary included in some of the articles published that the adoption process takes ‘too long’. The adoption assessment process takes around six months and was reduced in 2013 from eight months.
The children who are placed for adoption are some of the most vulnerable children in our society and as an adoption agency, we need to be sure that the families we place them with are suitable, up for the job and exactly who they say they are. This takes time. Time to ensure that all checks are carried out, references are interviewed, prospective adopters are interviewed and that they have the time required to process and reflect on all the information and training that is given to them during this very important process. If we feel that an assessment needs to take longer, or indeed if a prospective family feels they need more time during this process, then it will take longer. We work towards the timescales set but we will not lower standards to meet the timescale.
What is important to reflect on this story is that the adoption system needs to mitigate the risks to children’s outcomes by facilitating the process to get the right placements for children in a timely manner.
The figures published show that children in care are waiting longer to be placed with adoptive families, with a 30 day increase in waiting time in just the past six months. Children who are waiting to be adopted currently outnumber approved adopters by three to one. This does not only pose a risk to the long-term outcomes for children, but new analysis published last month by Coram also shows the cost to local authorities. Failing to find adoptive families for just 30 children a year costs £1m for each extra year they remain in care, their findings show.
It is also very important for people to realise that not everyone chooses to adopt due to infertility. For the LGBTQ community, adoption is often one of their first choices to have a family, there are also many adopters who have chosen to adopt over or before having birth children of their own and families who have adopted who have birth children.
Adoption Matters Chief Executive, Norman Goodwin, CBE.