Major must be in a fix if it's political correctness again
Tuesday 18 February 1997
The last time "politically correct adoption" had a government outing was in the dog days of December. Before that, John Major threw in an ill- informed populist reference to it in his dog's dinner of a conference speech: "I still hear too many stories of politically correct absurdities that prevent children being adopted by loving couples that would give them a good home."
There are fewer than 400 babies for adoption each year - and thousands of couples who want to give them loving homes.
On the Frost Programme recently, the Prime Minister said he wanted to encourage more inter-country adoption - a claim greeted with angry disbelief since the Government's much-used helpline for would-be adopters of foreign children closes down in two weeks' time.
But if adoption isn't working whose fault is it? After two years of consultation, an Adoption Bill was published with all-party approval, harmonising the chaotic differences between local authorities and regulating overseas adoption. But there were no manifesto-titillating politics in it - so it was dropped from the Queen's Speech.
It was dropped partly for fear that it offered the yahoos on the Tory back benches a chance to add absurd amendments - trying to strong-arm single mothers into giving up their babies, for instance. Adoption is such a tiny part of social policy, yet has become an emblem of the family values lobby.
The new regulations the Health Secretary announced yesterday are perfectly sensible. But his social-worker-bashing spin angered adoption agencies. Would-be adopters will have the right to see and challenge social reports that reject them and more lay people will sit on the panels. No big deal, since many panels do this already.
None of this will change who gets chosen as parents for the newborns that most adopters seek. It is not really a question of people being disqualified but of choosing the most likely of the thousands of couples available. There is still a desperate need for people to adopt older children, handicapped, or "challenging" children. Half of all three- to five-year-olds wait at least three years before a family is found for them, with untold extra damage inflicted while they wait. A dedicated 50-year-old single man might well be the most suitable adopter available for a 13-year-old handicapped, disturbed child. It is all a question of the best available for each child at the time.
There are some 55,000 children in care - and the fate of most of them is a national disgrace: 75 per cent leave care with no qualifications. Many end up in prison.
The PM talks as if all these children could simply be adopted - end of problem.
"Mr Major believes it is important for children to be brought up in the stability of a home rather than being institutionalised in children's homes or drifting between various foster families," a spokesman says with devastating banality.
Recent scandals in children's homes may frighten politicians into wanting these children off their hands fast. But damaged children need highly skilled social workers, therapy and intensive education - all of which cost money.
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Putin critic may have been murdered by Islamic extremists, says president-led committee
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...