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Adoption: The Narey Report

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The Narey Report: A blueprint for the nation’s lost children.

… as The Times put it when publishing the Narey report on 5th July 2011 . It is to the credit of The Times that they commissioned Martin Narey, former chief executive of Barnardo’s and a former head of the prison service, to prepare a report into adoption. This was against the background of falling rates of adoption whilst both the number of prospective adoptive parents and the number of children in care are increasing. The government has now approached Martin Narey to become its official adviser on adoption.

Although the welfare of the child is regarded as paramount, there is too much emphasis on the part of social workers on the wishes of the, often dysfunctional, birth parents and the extended family. There is a reluctance to take children into care let alone to match them to adoptive parents.

The first of the 20 recommendations in the Report is that the Children’s Minister: “takes an early opportunity to advise local authorities of his, Parliament’s and the Courts’ view on the absolute primacy of the child’s interests when deciding whether a child should be taken into care.” and “ensures that the overwhelming evidence that care improves life for neglected and abused children be communicated to local authority and voluntary sector children’s staff.”

A further recommendation is that “the role of the social worker as the unequivocal protector of the interests of the child as opposed to that of friend of the family is communicated to the social work profession.”

Adoption often gives a child the best, or even only chance, of breaking away from the life disadvantages into which he / she was born. Another recommendation of the report is that “the evidence of the success of adoption — particularly early adoption — (including low breakdown rates) be communicated to local authorities, the voluntary sector, the press, the courts and the public.” The Times featured a number of highly successful children of adoptive parents : Steve Jobs, John Nettles, Kate Adie…

As Martin Narey writes in the introduction to his report, other interventions in child care do not have ” the potential utterly to transform the life chances of a neglected child in the way adoption can and does”.

Anyone who has been through the process of adopting a child will have experienced delays, intrusive questioning, frustration. It is to be hoped that the process of adoption will be made easier and quicker so that more children may benefit.