To mark the beginning of National Adoption Week, Children's Minister Tim Loughton has called on local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies to do more to facilitate interracial adoption and make it easier for couples to adopt children from different ethnic or cultural backgrounds.
He also described the 15% decrease in the number of children placed for adoption last year and increase in the time it takes to complete an adoption as "unacceptable".
It now takes an average of two years and seven months to adopt a child. And black, Asian and mixed-race children wait three times longer than white children.
Tim Loughton said: "I know that matching children for adoption is a complex and sensitive process, but in some cases there is too great an emphasis on finding the 'perfect match'. Ethnicity should not be a barrier to adoption if there are loving, stable and secure families ready and waiting to adopt children.
"We know that a child tends to do better if adopted by a family that shares their ethnic and cultural heritage. Although the law and guidance is clear that due consideration needs to be given to language, religion, culture and ethnicity, this isn't translating into practice. It is much better that a child is adopted by loving parents than left waiting for their future to be decided."
Loughton told the Times there was "no reason at all" why white couples should not adopt children from different racial backgrounds. "If it is a great couple offering a good, loving, stable permanent home, that should be the number one consideration," he said.
There are approximately 80,000 children in the care of public authorities in the UK, most of whom are not considered for adoption because they are too old or are moving in and out of the system.
Of the 2,300 children approved for adoption last year, almost a quarter were of black or Asian origin.
- Children's Minister calls for reduced delays in adoption process (Department for Education)
- Children in public care (CFAB)
- 'Cultural shift' on adoption urged (Press Association)
- Adoption and fostering (Findlaw.co.uk)
- Family law news (The Solicitor)
- Family law Q&A (Community)
- Find a family law solicitor (Contact Law)