Right of Reply: Nola Bloor

A member of an adoption panel responds to calls to increase the rate of adoption of children in care
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ACCORDING TO a report in The Independent ("Straw to act on adoption", 13 March), "Ministers are to take a tough line over obstructive social workers who are blocking the chances of adoption of thousands of children in council-run homes. Such children are more likely to obtain no education qualifications, become jobless, sleep rough or end up in prison. Ministers blame social workers for being anti-adoption and for using it as an option of last resort."

I am an independent member of an adoption panel. I can tell you that there are not the people waiting to adopt children from council-run homes. That is the bottom line. There aren't.

Newspapers even carry advertisements for adopters with pictures of the children. Some get no response - I mean literally no response. It is heartbreaking for the child to know that he or she has been photographed to go into a newspaper ad "for a forever Mummy and Daddy", and to find no one wants them.

There are only too many wanting to adopt babies, but adopting a child with problems (which by the time they are four they have a lot of) is more of a challenge. It is very different from bringing up your own child.

Some children do not want to be adopted. Other children who at age two, say, would be comparatively easy to place on their own are very difficult to place when they have elder siblings of six and eight who must be placed as a family unit.

Prospective adopters such as the couple you mention not only have a right of appeal, they can speak to the media. Social workers cannot reply because of the duty of confidentiality. And the responsibility of entrusting the life and upbringing of a child to a couple is awesome. Social workers go about it in a very professional way. They want it to work. The consequences of failure are disastrous for everyone, most of all the child.

Let us not forget that adoption is for children needing families, not for adults wanting children.