In an interview (£) for The Sunday Times the Government's adoption tsar Martin Narey accepts that legislation outlawing discrimination against transracial adoption may be needed – that guidance against delay may not be enough.
“Michael Gove [the education secretary] has issued fresh guidance to say that seeking an ethnic match should not delay adoption.
“We need to see whether that guidance is listened to … By the end of the year, I think I will have a pretty good picture. If it hasn’t, then my advice to ministers … will be that they will have to go beyond guidance … possibly to legislation.”
“In some US states it is illegal to take account of ethnicity in adoption. It can’t even be mentioned and trans-racial adoptions are hugely successful there.
“Race does matter, but there aren’t enough black adopters. I believe that to suggest a white couple can’t raise a black child and be supported to help with the racism that child might encounter is just preposterous.”
Narey appreciates that this means challenging the establishment social work orthodoxies. He says he has been “told by the British Association of Social Workers that the reason they don’t support trans-racial adoptions is that they break down in large numbers. It is simply untrue, there is no evidence”.
He also specifies the need to streamline the health and safety requirements which means it is “entirely typical” for some councils to take a year to approve adopters. He mentioned forms drawn up by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering which include checking there are locks on the cutlery drawer and "banalities as, for example, if there is a trampoline in the garden, does it have a safety net?”