Inter-Country Adoption Agency
146. Detailed consideration of the whole law
and practice relating to inter-country adoption is beyond our
remit. It is nevertheless appropriate to record the very clear
evidence given by the witnesses from the Overseas Adoption Helpline
that the United Kingdom is outside the main loop of most western
states because it does not have a recognised national Inter-Country
Adoption Agency. As a result, children from many potential donor
countries are not available for adoption by United Kingdom citizens,
with the effect that potential adopters may be forced to seek
children from states where the pre-adoption practice is more likely
to be unsatisfactory:
"We do not have specialist inter-country adoption
agencies that have representatives in the overseas countries and
that work collaboratively with them, and there are a number of
countries that are closed to United Kingdom applicants because
we do not have that system."
"I think the lack of an agency is a huge one
if one looks at child protection as well: because I think British
families are thrust more onto the less organised countries, Cambodia
being one of them, because many of the best organised countries
do not want to work with British families. They do not want to
work with individuals who are having to reinvent the wheel every
time they do an adoption. They want to work with professional
agencies who know exactly what they are doing and understand these
incredibly complex structures."
147. We were particularly concerned to hear that:
"Until we have agencies, I am not confident
that the spirit of what we have been attempting to do in legislation
will be achieved."
148. The adoption agencies promoting inter-country
adoption have done excellent work in creating opportunities for
the adoption of children where it is in the interests of the child.
However, these organisations may be perceived to have a conflict
of interest when it comes to the possible application of restrictions
on inter-country adoption. Although we have had insufficient time
to consider these issues in detail, we consider the establishment
of a body which would enjoy the confidence of all parties to inter-country
adoptions, including government, would be a very positive step.
149. We recommend that the Government should
take steps to establish an inter-country adoption agency, which
we believe would enhance good adoption practice and inform the
Government about unsatisfactory practices in countries where children
are available for adoption.