Right of Reply: Felicity Collier

The director of the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering replies to an article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
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The Independent Culture
YASMIN POWERFULLY attacks the adoption "fundamentalists" but I am deeply depressed at hearing the same old myths about children in care. There are flaws in the system, and the future of those children who do not have a settled family life is bleak - but really, "children languishing in state institutions"?

Almost all children in care are living with genuine carers who open their homes and hearts to children whose lives are temporarily in turmoil but who with support and hard work will return home.

As for "infants in institutions"? Just find me one. The number will be minute; 73 per cent of all children in care return home within a year, most within six weeks. The problems that led to their admission will be family crises - not intractable problems but ones related to poverty and disadvantage which can be tackled with financial and social work support.

There is a statistically small but important group of small children for whom a return to their birth family is unrealistic and often unsafe. There is no evidence that these are the children of teenage mothers - indeed the leap to this conclusion is based on anecdote and prejudice. There are mothers unable to cope but there are also families who abuse and neglect their children. Social workers must be able to identify these children in order to allow them the opportunity of a secure family.

Adoption has changed beyond recognition - who would have thought 30 years ago that we would find adoptive parents for disabled children and groups of siblings?

I would welcome debate about the proper place for adoption. Critical to the debate must be the interests of the children, and not the emphasis on "good parents who cannot get any babies to adopt".