Developing

Adoption System To Be 'More Swift And Robust'

Plans to overhaul the adoption process in a bid to find homes for 4,000 children currently on a national register have been unveiled by the Government.

Potential adopters will be given a "more active role" in selecting a child and granted the same maternity and paternity paid leave arrangements as biological mothers and fathers.

Officials are considering allowing approved candidates access to the register of those waiting to be adopted to help them choose potentially-suitable children.

Those interested in adopting will be given "a more active role" in choosing a child, and additional support will be given to successful adoptive parents.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he hoped the changes would create a "swifter, more effective and robust" system.

David Holmes, chief executive of the British Association of Adoption and Fostering , welcomed the announcement.

"Now, more than ever, we need more people to consider if adoption could be right for them - we must find families for the thousands of children who are waiting whilst ensuring that adoption support is available to meet the needs of all," he said.

Children's Minister Edward Timpson urged people over Christmas to "think seriously about opening up their home to a child awaiting adoption".

He said: "We know that children do well in an adoptive family and I hope this comprehensive package of support will lead to more and more people having the confidence to come forward and provide a chance for these children to thrive and reach their potential.

"This support will also provide more help to those who are already adopting children who have been in care. I urge everyone this Christmas to think seriously about opening up their home to a child awaiting adoption."

Former Barnardo's chief Martin Narey, now the Government's adoption adviser, said new evidence from the US - and more recently the UK - suggested giving adopters the initiative improved matches.

He said: "Of course, that does not mean that adopters can simply choose their child, they still need professional advice on such a vital decision. But it is clear - and indeed I have observed - that there is a chemistry between adopters and children which can provide a foundation for a very successful adoption."