Minister criticises 'dogma-ridden' view of adoption

HOMOSEXUAL or lesbian couples, and single people, should only be able to adopt children when councils cannot match them with suitable married couples, a minister said yesterday.

Tim Yeo, Under-Secretary for Health, attacked the 'dogma and political correctness' of some childcare experts who refuse to favour married couples for adoption placements. He was launching a consultation document for updating Britain's adoption law and practice, which proposes new criminal sanctions against people who adopt children from abroad without official authorisation.

'The vast majority of children benefit from having two loving parents of opposite sexes,' he said. 'Local authorities and adoption agencies should be in no doubt whatever that they must make the most strenuous efforts possible to find such couples.'

One exception may be in the cases of older children who were profoundly handicapped and had forged a relationship with a member of staff in the institution where they lived, 'who may have sought adoption by a married couple without success'.

Mr Yeo's comments on the suitability of would-be adopters appeared to go further than the conclusions of the consultation paper, which cautioned against any legislation or guidance that was 'too prescriptive' about the characteristics required of applicants.

The paper, the result of a two- year review by the Department of Health, the Foreign Office, Lord Chancellor's department, and the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland offices, states: 'The suitability of a person who is eligible by law to adopt a child should be judged primarily according to the needs of a particular child.'

It suggests that children, where possible, would have the right to be consulted about decisions relating to adoption; and that those aged 12 and over should be able to veto adoption proposals. They would also have the right to know that they were adopted and allowed access to information about their family background.

The blueprint also envisages new duties on local authorities to provide advice and counselling to people wishing to adopt, whether within the United Kingdom or from overseas. Councils should be allowed to charge for such services, which would include help with securing clearance for immigration, but should set such fees according to the applicants' needs.

The Department of Health said a working party would shortly be established to consider the financial aspects of the proposals. Ministers hope the review will prompt wide-ranging public debate.

British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, the largest single organisation working in the field, welcomed the proposals, but voiced concern over the resources available to local authorities.

Deborah Cullen, its legal officer, said: 'Unless councils are properly funded to take on these new responsibilities, there is a great danger of shutting the door to people of limited means, who might otherwise be excellent adoptive parents.'

Review of Adoption Law: Report to ministers of an interdepartmental working group. Community Services Division, Room 241, Wellington House, 133-135, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UG; free.

Leading article, page 18

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Polish Speaking Buying Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Superb opportunity for a BUYING...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers personalise...

Recruitment Genius: Key Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A really exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Multi Trade Operative

£22000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An established, family owned de...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project