We have just issued the following press release:
ADOPTION REFORMS PETITION TO BE PRESENTED AT 10 DOWNING STREET
Media invited to attend petition presentation: 13.00 on 31 October, 2011
A petition urging the government to form a National Adoption Authority and put the needs of children at the forefront of adoption reforms in the UK is to be presented at 10 Downing Street.
More than 1,200 supporters have signed a petition launched by Adoption with Humanity and firmly believe their proposals will overcome the present failing bureaucratic system which in the last year has seen only 60 babies under the age of one be adopted. It will be delivered to Downing Street on 31 October, the first day of National Adoption Week.
Francesca Polini, who adopted two children from Mexico after being turned down by her local authority in Ealing, London, and whose three-year-old daughter Gaia will present the petition, said: “It is important we take our message straight to the heart of government and we are doing this during National Adoption Week in the hope that our message is heard and listened to.
“We want to see changes implemented as soon as possible which will make a difference to the lives of countless young people who are left to languish in care homes.”
Adoption with Humanity was founded by Francesca, along with Stevan Whitehead and Alex Bemrose, who also both adopted children from overseas after being turned down in the UK for their skin colour and class.
It is proposed that the NAA have control over local authorities and courts and is governed by those involved in the adoption process, including social workers, psychologists, doctors, adoptive parents, birth mothers and adoptees.
One of the NAA key proposals is that a personal budget should be allocated to the child (similar to a statement of special educational needs) and the creation of a separate national budget for the assessment and preparation of potential adopters. Funding for this would come from the reallocation of budgets from the Department of Education and Ofsted.
Francesca says: “These proposals would result in significant improvements, resulting in less time being spent in care and a reduction of wasted time and resources as a result of proper co-ordination between agencies and the courts. Most importantly, more children would be placed in loving and secure homes earlier in their lives.”
Support for the campaign has been given by its patron Baroness King of Bow, Oona King, and courtier dress designer Bruce Oldfield, a former Barnardo’s boy.
Baroness King says: “Like Francesca I am an adoptive parent of two lovely children. And like her, I have experienced the utter frustration, despair and anger at the way the current system operates. This is not apolitical issue: successive governments have failed to solve the problem. So what’s the problem? Simply that a failing system discourages adoptive parents from adopting, and penalises children born into dysfunctional families. These are children whose birth parents have usually been abused or neglected.
“Often, the best way out for these most vulnerable children is adoption. But adoption just isn’t accepted by the system. That’s why only a few dozen babies were adopted last year. The courts and local authorities need to be held to account, and the government of the day must get a grip. Our government has a moral duty to get the system working, introduce national procedures, and rid the system of unnecessary obstacles. And there isn’t a moment to waste. I look forward to helping Francesca in her quest to change things for the better.”
Bruce Oldfield says: “Adoption today in the UK is itself dysfunctional. I find it particularly absurd that that colour and culture are preventing children being adopted by families because social workers and local authorities think it won’t work. I myself was raised by a single white woman, an extraordinary lady who looked after six of us in all. None of us were white. Her love, encouragement and the stable home she gave all of us was far more important than the colour we were born with.
“She is the reason I am who I am today and also the reason I am a couturier. As a dressmaker herself she was my role model. Without her there would be no Bruce Oldfield. When Francesca told me what she was doing with Adoption With Humanity, I was immediately behind her.
“We need to get back to basics and to what adoption is all about and that is children who need parents and would be parents who have the love to give those children.”