Select Committee on Select Committee on the Adoption and Children Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence



Letter from John Penet, National Coordinator, ATD Fourth World

  I write to ask that ATD Fourth World be considered to give oral evidence to the Select Committee, possibly in association with Family Rights Group.

  Over the past four years, through regular policy forums, ATD Fourth World has been empowering families and individuals living in long-term poverty to bring their experiences directly to policy makers. This allows the contribution of those least heard to be considered in policy planning. Never is this more important than in the subject of planning for the future of children, yet in recent discussions and debates on adoption reform, the voices of birth parents are almost never heard. This is because there is an assumption that—at best—birth parents are socially inadequate, unfit to parent their children, and—at worst—people who have been cruel and abusive. This assumption creates shame for parents who have lost children through lack of parenting skills, insecure housing and the many other devastating effects of a lifetime of poverty and social exclusion. Such has been the experience of many of the families with whom ATD Fourth World works and who have contributed to policy forums.

  Creating a supportive environment for people to come and share their experiences with each other, we ran a series of policy forums focusing on adoption. From these policy forums ATD Fourth World produced a consultation response on the National Adoption Standards. Even if it were at short notice, we would be pleased to give oral evidence to the Select Committee.

  For further information about the work of ATD Fourth World, please find enclosed our Annual Review and a Fourth World Journal on our family support work.[1]

April 2001

1   Not printed. Back

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