Ofsted has just released its first report on adoption statistics for 2011-2012 period
The Ofsted report was very interesting and showed a good insight into adoption in the UK. There has been much interest, energy, effort and resources placed in domestic adoption and this is reflected in the greater interest that has been shown.
Despite recent changes in the law restricting the use of ethnicity and race in adoption - it still is prevalent with the report going into great detail about the race and religions of potential adopters. This indicates that the conventional wisdom of matching like and like is unfortunately still prevalent.
There appears to be a huge gap between people expressing an interest in adoption and the very few who go ahead to adopt. Over 25 thousand people enquired about adoption but only 3048 were approved. An average of 8%, broken down to 7% for domestic adoptions and 10% for international adoptions.
This is tragic as when people make an enquiry into adoption they have already put great thought into it and have seriously considered giving a child in need a home. Why then are so few people making the transition to formal applications? Many people are being put off at the early stages. With my own experience it appears that social workers do everything in their power to deter potential adopters. Just this week I spoke to a woman who was told that they could not go forward with her adoption because she could not take 22 weeks of the year off work to look after her adopted child during the school holidays. This is wholly unrealistic. It appears that there is a tendency for the officials to be looking for the 'perfect parent', rather than helping and giving support to potential adoptive parents. This attitude is of great concern - not only for the children who will lose out on parents, but also for the adults who will suffer deeply for not becoming parents. More needs to be focused into nurturing potential adoptive parents and attitudes need to change with regard to the perceived needs of the adoptive child.
Adoption is a good choice of family creation for single women, which is reflected in the large number of applicants. 10% of all applications are from single adopters.
What is absolutely shocking about this report is the incredibly small number of international adoptions. There were only 78 international adoptions completed during this period - one of the lowest figures in 15 years. Although the number of approved applications was almost 200 it shows that the increase in the fees by the VAAs and the almost £2000 fee from the Department of Education has meant that international adoption has now being placed in the hands of the elite. Although International Adoption Guide has had 42 thousand unique visitors to its website during this same period, only 800 people made enquiries to the adoption agencies, with 10% going forward.
Does this mean that there is no interest in the UK in international adoption or does it mean that there is a huge lack in information and resources? Or has it cost itself out of the market? 9% of those who apply, withdraw their applications.
It is of my opinion that UK families are interested in adoption, but they still find it difficult to go forward and complete an adoption. There is still a stigma about adoption in the UK and this is not helped with the negative attitude that the adoption agencies have about children who need to be adopted and the abilities of potential adoptive parents. International adoption is not seen as a humanitarian act and is discouraged in the very early stages.
There is still much to be done in the UK.