If at the end of adoption week, an ‘Adoption Tsar’ had been appointed to make sense of the adoption process and to bring about much needed change, that would be a result. Change is needed, not only to increase the number of children who are adopted (the numbers are scandalously low), but to streamline process – particularly the legal one. Whilst the problems associated with obtaining a placement order for adoption shouldn’t be underestimated, this has to be a process that is super efficient, and it appears to be far from that. The longer a child has to wait before adoption can take place, the more likely it is that the adoption will not be successful. And the longer the child has been in care the more difficult it becomes to place the child.
It’s very easy to criticise from the sidelines. (Problems always seem very simple viewed from Cosy Cott, Acacia Avenue, Little England!) Carefully selected statistics and half information can distort the reality and influence decisions in a way which produces entirely the wrong results – and causes immense resentment from those doing their best to make the system work.
But because the true facts are not made clear, children are getting a raw deal. For example, what’s the true figure of how many children are ‘unadoptable’? How many reach that state because of faults and delays in the system? Why do so many people who want to adopt either give up or go abroad to adopt a child? To what degree has the policy of ethnic matching made the problem worse? Unless questions like these (and there are many more) can be answered, nothing is going to change very much – and there might be a very good reason why they have remained unanswered, or the answers kept under wraps. Why? Because, open the adoption can of worms and the spotlight will soon seek out the papered-over fractures and faults in our divided, unequal society. It will highlight the consequences of our deliberate lack of proper attention towards the well-being of our fellow countrymen and women. This is something no politician would ever countenance allowing to happen.
So has Cameron entered the minefield? He’s probably standing on the edge. He’ll have judged that the adoption issue has very little political mileage for him, but has significant dangers. What does this mean? That there’ll be a lot of good words and numerous well meaning committees set up, but little action and even less clarity – and no leadership. There’s a lot of cage rattling to be done.