Calls of adoption process to be speeded up as just 12 babies adopted last year

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Babies across the country languish in care due to red-tape

ONLY 12 Scottish babies were adopted last year, despite hundreds languishing in care.

Official figures show that of the 23 children under the age of one who were adopted last year, 11 were taken on by their parent’s partner.

But during 2010 there were 373 children in that age group in care.

The damning figures have been blamed in red-tape which makes the adoption process “slow and bureaucratic”.

Adoption groups have called for the process to be made easier to allow children to be placed with new families as soon as possible.

But social workers warned that speeding up the process risked mistakes being made.

Problem

David Holmes, chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said: “The system is working for thousands of children across the UK who are adopted every year.

“But we have a significant problem with delays and some children who need adoption aren’t getting it quickly enough or at all.

“We need the adoption process speeded up, to increase the number of adopters and provide more support for adopters once the child has been placed with them.”

Government figures show there was just 466 adoptions last year despite 15,708 children being in care.

The number of adoptions has fallen dramatically since 1970, when there was 2040 adoption.

However there has been a slight rise in the last five years as only 418 children were adopted in 2006.

Stephanie Stone, assistant director for fostering and adoption at the charity Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “There was a period of time where the number of adoptions dropped considerably.

“Some of that was due to birth parents no longer giving up children for adoption.

Change

“There was also a phase where social workers were working extremely hard to keep children at home with their birth parents.

“But over the last few years that has changed again and social workers are realising much more that they have to make early plans for children and get them placed with adoptive families.

“Unfortunately, the number of young children in Scotland who need adoptive families has increased dramatically. A lot of that has to do with substance abuse and the backlash from the Baby P case.

“Social workers understand much more that if children can’t be safely rehabilitated at home, they have to be placed for adoption quickly in order to minimise the damage.
“We have a huge increase in the number of children that are available for adoption, but we don’t have the upturn in adoptive families coming forward.

“Part of that is because, until a few years agowe were telling families ‘ If you are only interested in adopting very young children, they aren’t really available’.

“Some families chose to adopt from abroad or just gave up.

“But now the message is that we need these families to come forward because there are a lot of very young children from chaotic backgrounds who need adoptive families.”

Mistakes

But Tim Parkinson of the Scottish Association of Social Workers warned against simplifying the adoption process.

He said: “When a child is born, you have to go through all the procedures to make sure the baby is medically fit for adoption, such as not having any congenital conditions.

“Then there is the process of making sure the adoptive parents have been assessed and matched.

“If you speed up the system you might make mistakes and get things wrong.

“It is a once-and-for-all situation.”

However the Scottish government vowed to improve adoption rates.

A spokesman said: “Safe, stable and secure placements provide children with the best chances in life.

“We will do what we can to increase adoption rates and speed up the adoption process.

“In June, we published plans to make significant improvements in the decision-making process for all children in care which keeps the child at the centre of all decisions.”

 

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