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Are courts getting adoption orders right?

Author: Gail Harris

Children throughout Britain are being removed from their natural family homes on the back of “highly intrusive, draconian orders”, with no evidence that it is in their best interests, claims a senior judge.

Lord Justice McFarlane has called for family court judges to routinely receive feedback on the adoption orders they have ruled on. He said that Judges must be confident that their decisions are “striking the right balance between child protection and human rights.”

Justice McFarlane commented: “The only feedback that does occur is haphazard and normally arises because the case, in one form or another, happens to come back to court at a later date. There is no regular system of keeping the judge informed with the progress of events six months, a year, five years, 10-years, down the line. Even when an adoptive placement formally breaks down, the judge is not informed.”

Britain stands alone in its high rate of forcible adoptions – it is rare in other parts of the world. In his address, the court of appeal judge said there was a need to question whether the current model of adoption “continues to be as valuable”. He wants more research to justify the courts decisions to enforce the adoption orders.

Justice McFarlane has also raised concerns about the fact that in Britain, more and more older children are being placed for adoption, saying that the older the child is, the more “likely they are to carry the mental scars of their traumatic family life.”

Around 20% of adoptions today involve children over the age of four. It is common practice to regularly consider children over the age of seven years for adoption.

The judge said that social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have made it difficult to form an “impermeable seal” around an adoptive home, adding: “It is now far more difficult to protect the whereabouts of children because social media makes it much easier to trace and make uncontrolled contact with children.”

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