Kate Hilpern rubbishes the ‘Mail’ use of an anecdote:
"I can't help but think back to a hit 1970s-80s American television show called Diff'rent Strokes, about two young black boys adopted by a single, white man," reads one online comment in response to yesterday's Daily Mail article on children's minister Tim Loughton's announcement that ethnicity should no longer be a barrier to adoption. "Forty years ago this was normal enough in the US that it was included in a hit mainstream television series. What's taken Britain so long to get around to doing the same?"…before going on to use one herself:
The irony is supreme. Research from this period – when interracial adoption was at its most popular (including in the UK) – shows that nearly three-quarters of children involved suffered in terms of their emotional and mental wellbeing and always "felt different". I have interviewed several such people myself over the years and one man's comment always stands out to me – "I had a nice family, I did stuff I enjoyed and I had mates. But looking back at it from an adult's perspective, I guess I don't feel I truly belong to any culture or race."So, one man’s anecdote overrules another, right? Is that how the game is played in CiF?
And this is another bugbear of mine; why no link to any of that research? If it does indeed prove what Kate claims, it’d be a cinch to provide it, wouldn’t it?
Loughton has simply reiterated existing good practice and current legislation – that is, that social workers should take into consideration a child's ethnic and cultural needs as part of the matching process, but not to the detriment of all else, particularly the risk of a child otherwise languishing in care.Indeed. What’s best, that the child has a loving home where it’s wanted, or that it has parents that match it for skin colour?
Children from ethnic minorities are over-represented among those seeking adoption, yet it typically takes three times as long to place them. Furthermore, the number of children placed for adoption overall has dropped by 15% this past year alone.And the reason for that is because there’s fewer ethnic minority families willing to adopt. Just as ethnic minorities are underrepresented in – for example – donations of blood and bone marrow.
Indeed, Kate acknowledges this:
That said, it is a shame Loughton didn't take the opportunity to discuss other important solutions to the problem – notably, the need for more black families to be persuaded to put themselves forward to adopt.How? How can we do that?
Would you believe, ‘give charities more money’..?
Charities including Action for Children have shown is it possible to recruit more through targeted outreach.Yet the solution, surely, is to utilise what you already have – adoptive parents willing to foster and adopt minority children…
A further solution would be to bring an end to the financial pressures on local councils that discourage them from paying the 32 voluntary adoption agencies in the UK to arrange adoptions – a situation that is likely to be made even worse by public spending cuts.Do these voluntary adoption agencies not follow the same guidelines, then?
But the greatest shame is the misguided response to what he did say – the suggestion that most white families, simply by nature of wanting to adopt, would make excellent parents for black and Asian children.Yes, clearly that’s not…
Cultural identity is particularly significant for adopted children because they have already lost a large chunk of their identity through being removed from their birth families. Many have memories of these families and their language, religion, culture, customs and practices, not to mention the feeling of being able to walk into their home or down their road and feel they belong.Are you sure about what you are claiming here? That there should be no multicultural UK, that the races should stick to their ‘own’ areas, their ‘own’ shops?
To completely ignore this, which appears to be the implication, would be to make adoption a service for adults, not children – and that is exactly what has changed in the last 40 years.What’s making adoption ‘a service for adults, not children’ is the attitude that you are encouraging here – that the exact opposite of ‘diversity’ is what is needed!
I’m surprised this article got through CiF…