Letter: Backward steps on adoption

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The Independent Online
Sir: The High Court judgment on the tragic case of Edita Keranovic has highlighted how complicated adoption can be, and how information and advice for all parties involved in this difficult area is desperately needed to safeguard the interests of children ("Family furious as judge says war baby must stay", 18 February).

In the light of Stephen Dorrell's announcement on Monday that adoption is to be made more open and independent, the imminent closure of the Overseas Adoption Helpline due to sudden withdrawal of government funds is to be deplored.

The helpline provides the only source of accurate, independent advice available to social workers, lawyers and other professionals, as well as would-be adopters struggling through endless red tape both here and abroad.

It is incongruous that amid government declarations of desiring local authorities to become "enablers" rather than "providers", the Department of Health should now decide that such a valuable information service be provided by local authorities - which are under no statutory requirement to provide assistance with inter-country adoption enquiries - rather than by an independent voluntary organisation.

PETER THURNHAM MP

(Bolton North East, Con)

House of Commons

London SW1

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