Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Adoption and the Law (of unintended consequences?)

In what may seem to some a panicked measure, the ‘adoption tsar’, Sir Martin Narey, has issued what he calls a ‘simple myth-busting guide’ drafted by a QC, which is designed to inform local authorities and social workers that the law on adoption in England has not changed.

The number of adoptions in England rose sharply after an initiative by Michael Gove, when he was Secretary of State for Education, to increase the number of adoptions, which was overseen by Narey. Then following a court decision last September – in which the judge expressed concerns that a range of options short of adoption had not been explored in a particular case - the trend suddenly reversed and the number of children being put forward for adoption has plummeted.

Inevitably there will be those who conclude that ill-considered attempts to speed-up the adoption process have had unintended consequences. If those who have to carry out inquiries for the adoption courts are constrained to do so within tight time limits, it seems inevitable that they will not have the time and space to explore all the issues to the satisfaction of the courts.