UK Adoption to get much needed race reformsThe UK government is to introduce legislation to make it easier for prospective parents to adopt children from different racial or cultural backgrounds.
Michael Gove the education secretary, (who was himself adopted), criticised councils for the "outrageous" practice of denying a child the chance of adoption because of a "misguided" belief that all children must be matched with parents of the same race.
Prime Minister David Cameron is examining a series of proposals by Gove to change the adoption system in England which has created a "disgraceful" situation in which a black child is three times less likely to be adopted from care than a white child.
In a speech in London, Gove said: "One particularly sensitive element of the matching process is, as you all know, matching by ethnicity. Which is much more complex than simply race. "I won't deny that an ethnic match between adopters and child can be a bonus. But it is outrageous to deny a child the chance of adoption because of a misguided belief that race is more important than any other factor. And it is simply disgraceful that a black child is three times less likely to be adopted from care than a white child."
The education secretary criticised many councils for failing to take notice of guidance he issued last year calling for this area to be addressed. He said: "If there is a loving family, ready and able to adopt a child, issues of ethnicity must not stand in the way. I won't say too much now, in advance of the action plan – but I can promise you that I will not look away when the futures of black children in care continue to be damaged."
In a question and answer session afterwards Gove said it was now time to legislate. "We will be legislating. The decision is ultimately the prime minister's and there are a range of options he is looking at, but he is clear that while there has been an improvement and the guidance has helped, there hasn't been a big enough improvement and there are some hold-out areas, as it were. So he is determined to deal with it by legislating, because there are two or three different options we have presented the PM with. He is reflecting on which of them in his view which will be effective."
The use of legislation is a departure for the government, which had previously sought to issue new guidance to councils and see that it was followed. The move to legislation signals that some councils resisted the changes. Legislation is much needed.
Gove related his own experience to talk of the "transformative" effect of adoption. "Of course I'm parti pris. I was adopted at the age of just four months – given the stability, security and love which allowed me to enjoy limitless opportunities. "My experience of adoption has shown me how – whatever your start in life – being brought up by adults who love you, who are now your parents, is transformative. Adoption is – in every sense of the word – for good. And the readiness of adults to make such a firm and unselfish commitment for a child they cannot know is, to my mind, an inspirational example of humanity at its best."
Read more at: guardian.co.uk