Cameron vows to break down 'absurd barriers' to adoption

New legislation will stop social workers from using ethnicity to block mixed-race adoptions

Moves to make it easier for families to adopt children in care were set out by David Cameron yesterday as he vowed to sweep away the "life-wrecking bureaucracy" that thwarts efforts to find homes for vulnerable youngsters.

He promised to dismantle the "absurd barriers" against mixed-race adoption and announced that councils would be required to launch a nationwide hunt for homes if children could not be placed locally after three months.

Ministers believe the life prospects of children in care are dramatically boosted by being adopted, particularly when they are found a stable family at a young age.

Mr Cameron was speaking ahead of next week's launch of an "adoption action plan" designed to cut the numbers in care and slash the average time – currently two and a half years – it takes to place a child with new parents.

He said: "Young lives are being wasted while the process takes its toll – and the victims are some of the most vulnerable young people in our society. You can't put children's futures on hold while the system gets around to dealing with their case."

He announced legislation to stop social workers blocking the adoption of a child in care if a couple with an exact ethnic match cannot be found.

It will stress that the racial background of a suitable adopter should carry less weight than the importance of providing a stable home life. White British children are three times more likely than those with ethnic minority backgrounds to leave care through adoption.

Mr Cameron said: "It is shocking that black children take twice as long as white children to be adopted. We will tackle the absurd barriers to mixed-race adoption which trap many non-white children in care."

Families with provisional approval to adopt will in future be allowed to foster the children while they await final court permission for the adoption, meaning youngsters spend less time in care. And if a match with a suitable local family has not been found within three months, a child's local authority will be required to cast the net wider by adding his or her name to the National Adoption Register.

Anne Marie Carrie, the chief executive of Barnardo's, said: "Everyone should be mindful of the damage that is done the longer a child is without the love and stability of a permanent home and family. Matching the child with the right family is very important but the child's overwhelming need is for a consistently caring family, and ethnicity should not be used as a reason for delay."

Case study: 'I was so grateful that I was adopted'

Grace McNeil, 21, from Leicester, is a receptionist at a law firm

I was nine weeks old when I was adopted by my parents from an orphanage in Romania. It was at the time of the downfall of Nicolae Ceausescu. I think I'm a Romany Gypsy, but we're not 100 per cent sure. I've been told I came from quite a large family.

My parents are both white, and so is my sister Ruth, who's 24. I'd always known I was different – we don't look alike at all. At school, there was obviously some difficulty explaining that she was my sister, but since then it's been fine: I've kept the same friends, so I don't need to repeat myself.

When I left school at 18 I went travelling in Europe and I realised where my home is, and who my true family are. I was so grateful that I was adopted.

I think it's absolutely horrible that children are kept from adoption [because of race]. I was given such a good life, I've got a good job and such a nice family. There are so many kids out there in poverty: why not give them the best?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: 2nd Line IT Support Technician

£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This highly successful business...

Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - Bedfordshire - £30,000 + Excellent package

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Bonus, Pension, 25days hol, PHC +: Ashdown Group: ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn