THIS ADOPTION SCANDAL; It's One of the Social Crimes of Our Age. Never Have So Many People Wanted to Adopt and So Few Children Been Adopted. Here, a Leading Writer Uncovers a Politically Correct Nightmare Which Is Causing Such Bitter Unhappiness for Needy Youngsters and Would-Be Parents Alike

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID JONES

LIVING in a spacious, well-furbished home deep the East Anglian countryside, a caring married couple want for nothing - except a child. Told they will never be able to conceive, they decide to adopt, and prepare themselves for months of rigorous inspection and re-inspection by social workers.

They are ready to answer the most personal questions imaginable . . .

questions about previous relationships, their attitudes towards homosexuality, their racial and religious beliefs, and their own dimly remembered

childhood experiences.

It is emotionally draining and, at times, humiliating. But then, 50,000 children are in care and there is a huge shortage of suitable adoptive parents. Surely they would be allowed to share their love with just one?

Even as they thumb through magazines which advertise children seeking a family, they are informed that the local adoption panel has rejected them as unsuitable.

The reason? 'The location of your home,' their case worker tells them flatly. 'It's far too isolated for the needs of a young child.' As the shock subsides, the couple protest. They have a car and the nearest village is only a few minutes' drive away. It has a school, shops, a church. Besides, what better place to try to repair the damage of a broken home than in a peaceful corner of rural England? But their pleas fall on deaf ears.

Some might dismiss this case only slightly modified to protect the identity of those involved - as unusual. In fact, set alongside the numerous stories related to me during a lengthy investigation into the nation's failing adoption system, it is depressingly typical.

So typical that Philippa Morrall, the national co-ordinator of Parent To Parent Information On Adoption Services, says: 'If you put them [the examples of blocked adoption applications] all together, you would think the world had turned upside down.' Accepting the latest and best research, which indicates that adoption is broadly a good thing - in that it transforms neglected, mistreated or unwanted children into secure, well-adjusted adults - why, then, are the hopes of so many youngsters being thwarted?

Why, when the numbers in care are slowly rising, did the number of adoptions fall to just 1,900 for the year ending March 31, 1997 - a figure which is expected to alter little when the latest Government statistics are released next month?

And one which compares with an annual 20,000-plus throughout the Seventies.

HOW CAN we have reached the stage where many local authorities are placing just 1pc of children in their care with adoptive parents each year, and where two, Ealing and Waltham Forest in Greater London, placed one solitary child each in a 12-month period, according to the Department of Health?

The short answer is that the entire adoption system is a shambles and in drastic need of an overhaul.

A minefield for prospective parent and needy child alike, it is, in the words of Rightwing academic Patricia Morgan - who recently conducted an extensive research on adoption for the Policy Studies Institute - 'run by people who are inefficient at doing something they are largely opposed to anyway'.

Most adoptions, she concludes, 'take place in spite of the system, not because of it'.

To understand fully why, we might start with some recent history.

During the permissive Sixties and Seventies, when contraception was not so widely practised and abortions

were undertaken less readily, it was the boom in unwanted babies that sparked a sharp rise in adoptions.

But problems began with the dawning of the age of political correctness.

Taking their lead from a radical black movement in America, sociologists in Britain deemed it wrong for children to be placed with parents of a different ethnic background. Never mind that this often deprived them of a permanent family. …