We don’t sugar-coat the facts, but we try not to let i’s news coverage be unrelentingly bleak. (You’re the judge of that.) Today we lead with a piece of good news: the number of children adopted in England and Wales has leapt by the highest amount on record. It is an undeniable success story for the Coalition and for the Education Secretary, Michael Gove. Ministers have pressured local authorities to speed up tortuous adoption applications, shining the harsh beam of Whitehall’s displeasure on those councils dragging their feet. The aim: to halve the time taken to place a child with an adoptive family from 12 months to six.
In the slew of statistics, one stands out: for every year that a child waits, the chances of being adopted decrease by 20 per cent.
Not all children in care are suitable for adoption, not everybody’s a good parent, not everyone wants kids. But there are more adults out there who might want to adopt if it was a smoother, less harrowing process.
On BeMyParent.org.uk, the adoption and fostering service for children, hundreds of little faces beam out, with heart-rending biographies. Daniel, four, is always smiling, apparently, and likes playing golf. Rhys, Harvey and Toby are cheery looking brothers who have always lived together and “respond well to boundaries”. Demi, six, sounds a bundle of energy, has weekly play therapy and good school reports.
There will always be children in need of new families – and there remains much we can do to improve the adoptions process: place adopters on selection panels, support new parents, reform existing care homes, hire extra social workers (and pay them better). And find the elusive adults keen to adopt older kids, siblings, and disabled children.