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Forced adoption’ criticism shouldn’t get in the way of helping children

CommunityCare Article

Hugh Thornbery addresses some of the criticism around ‘forced adoption’

In the UK we adopt more children against the birth parent’s wishes than any other European state.

This partly reflects a shift in government policy. In the 2000s New Labour backed investment in keeping children with birth families. The current approach, initiated by Michael Gove under the coalition and maintained by the Conservatives, is to invest in adoption and not allow children to remain at risk in birth families or linger overly long in care.

This shift is not without controversy. Sections of the media criticise the rise of what they label ‘forced adoption’. The coverage is often sensational and one-sided. It leaves the impression that children are being inappropriately ‘snatched’ from their birth parents by the courts and given to ‘desperate’ adopters.

The reality is more complex. A small minority of children who enter care leave through adoption – now around 8%, compared to 5.2% in 2001. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of those adopted children came into care because of abuse or neglect.

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