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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

05 JUL 2011

Penny Booth: 'Adoption' is next to 'adore'

Penny BoothWell it is in my Concise Oxford dictionary circa 1974.

The Narey report on adoption which was commissioned by The Times and is published today. Will its thoughts on adoption and hopes for increasing the number of adoptions being completed make any difference at all to the thousands of children who are living without a regular, long-term and reliable family with whom to share life? I don't know - do you? Here's hoping that ‘the ultimate intervention' is found successfully for more children of whatever age, colour, background etc - if that is the right long-term care for that child.

Well, the report is perhaps hope that the Government will consider the situation and that for some children at least the future might bring a family they can call their own - and one on which they can depend. Think how much you have depended on yours - or still do?

Perhaps one of the problems of the last few decades has been that adoption has become something that is viewed as a ‘trial', a difficult ‘club' to join with more black balls going around than white ones to get you in to the club. That is the process of adoption itself - getting passed the selection. We all know bringing up children is hard and that the demands can seem insurmountable - and that it does not end at 18 or even on ‘maturity'. These are truisms of which you are all aware. We also  know that becoming adoptive parents ought to be hard because the state is giving to a person or couple the parenthood of a child who might otherwise not have a regular long-term family on which to depend, so it ought to be a test of sorts to get there. I have always found that a bit of a puzzle, though. There is no test for ‘parenthood' per se and the right set of genitals will get you there via Mother Nature - sometimes whether you want to be there or not, and sometimes with a strange combination of individuals that become natural parents.    

One of my favourite films, ‘Parenthood' (with Steve Martin), has in it a character who bemoans the fact that you need a licence to go fishing but any XXXX can be a father - it could be applied to mothers, too. So it is right that the state checks out whether prospective adoptive parents are suitable because that responsibility lies with the state. Have we, though, gone a little too far in banning rather than merely discouraging the overweight or the prospective parent who smokes from passing the stringent tests? I am married to a really thin chap, so the overweight applies more to me than him, but I regret that I have never been able to persuade him to stop smoking a pipe, knowing it is bad for his health, perhaps for mine too (he went into the garden to smoke when the children were little). Having said that, had I set out a list of features for fatherhood he would have been a shoe-in for the job.                 

I wonder if there isn't something of a job-creation scheme going on which requires some rejection of prospective adopters to justify the system as it is currently established? Having said that, adoption and its encouragement is a good topic for a newspaper - like home-made apple pie, who could not buy it and regard it as a ‘good thing'? Yes, I am an old cycnic...

Penny sets the questions for Family Law journalCPD, a new way to gain CPD points by answering multiple choice questions based on the content of the journal.

She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Liverpool University Centre for the Study of the Child, the Family and the Law. Click here to follow Penny Booth on Twitter.

The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.

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