Social norms go in and out of fashion like anything else. Some are explicit, others are implicit. Everything from the tip percentage for a waiter to how you raise your children is subject to the scrutiny of acceptability. Unfortunately, adoption too has fallen victim to the whims of social normality, and for many people “giving up” your baby for adoption is simply not a social norm. Martin Narey is looking to change all that.
Teenage girls and women pregnant with unwanted babies should be offered the ‘golden option’ of adoption alongside abortion or struggling on to raise the children, a Government adviser said yesterday.
The call from Martin Narey, the Coalition’s new adoption tsar, will pile fresh pressure on social workers to end three decades of hostility to adoption as a way of finding homes for children with troubled mothers.
Ministers have already tried to clear the way for thousands of children to find new families by ordering social workers and their managers to scrap race rules that have prevented white couples from adopting black children, and barred people in their 40s and older from adoption.
The suggestion by Mr Narey, a former chief executive of Barnardo’s, would mean a return to the practices of the 1970s, when mothers who could not keep their children often offered them for adoption. Since then, adoption has gone out of fashion with social workers, and the number of children adopted from state care has dropped from more than 20,000 a year to around 3,000.
In a report into the state of the adoption system, containing 19 suggestions for improvements, Mr Narey said social workers should no longer press pregnant women with personal difficulties to bring up their children.
And he suggested it was wrong to tell teenagers they would make good mothers.
‘For six months we are all over her telling her how well she is doing – and then she is on her own. What we are doing is cowardly,’ he said in the report, commissioned by The Times.
‘Adoption should be a third option to abortion or keeping the child. It is an attitude that must be allowed to grow.
‘In the U.S. mothers who give their children up for adoption believe they are giving them a great start.
‘Here it is viewed as a success if we talk them out of it..Changing attitudes: Mr Narey said that pregnant women should follow the American example and believe that if their child is adopted it is being given a good start in life
‘I am afraid some people just don’t like adoption. They think it is social engineering, allowing middle-class people to bring up working-class children. Where there are successes, professionals are apologetic about it, like it is some sort of tragedy.
It’s controversial to want to encourage young mothers to routinely consider adoption, but the alternative is that they routinely consider less positive options. Wouldn’t it be great if all young girls had it in the forefront of their minds that if they did get pregnant, they could always choose adoption?by