In my 40 years as an agony aunt, I’ve learnt much about the ways in which governments collude with social services departments to meet adoption targets.
Adoptions have certainly increased. In 1995, the number of under-fives adopted in England was 560. By 2012, the number had quadrupled — of these, 1,100 were described as ‘consent dispensed with’: in other words, forcible adoptions.
One social services department, it was widely reported, received £27,000 every time it placed a child with adoptive parents (possibly to cover the costs of the process).
Fostering, meanwhile, costs them £2,000 per child and also incurs huge long-term expenditure — foster parents are paid up to £900 a week to look after the most challenging children.
I know, too, that some children — notably sweet-faced babies — are much more adoptable than others, and it is the winsome who are cherry-picked. Meanwhile, the difficult to adopt — those who are older, less pretty or who have behavioural issues or disabilities — are often either left to languish in children’s homes or permitted to remain with their parents.
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