Posted: 14th March 2017
Author: Emily Bower

Adoption Policy in the Social Media Age

holding hands

Adoption is an option of last resort; a highly intrusive and draconian order made where ‘nothing else will do’, but as Lord Justice McFarlane questions; “how do we know this is so?”.

In his lecture to the Family Justice Council, Lord Justice McFarlane highlighted the need for more research to be undertaken in order to justify permanent removal of children from their birth families. He suggests that “too many children are being forcibly adopted against the wishes of their families and prevented from having any contact with their natural parents”.

He goes onto explain that “the difficulties facing adopters and adopted children… have been made significantly more difficult … with the ever-increasing facility to trace and make contact, in an uncontrolled way, with individuals over the internet or via social media,”.

He queries the UK’s current adoption policy and comments that “a future which may include placement breakdown, unstructured and possibly unknown contact with the natural family, upset and confusion, seems a long cry from the sunny upland of a happy, settled, secure future with a ‘forever family’ which has been the traditional goal of those making adoption orders to date”.

In the era of emerging social media, and children being removed from their birth families at older ages, he argues that “it may no longer be practicable or beneficial to create an ‘impermeable seal’ around an adoptive home”.

He questions the UK’s current model of adoption and highlights a number of issues including care funding restrictions, post adoption contact, lack of feedback regarding placement success, greater efforts required to promote the use of FDAC (Family Drug and Alcohol Courts) and a need for more transparency in the family courts.

See the full article in The Guardian dated 9th March 2017 by following the link below.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/09/we-need-to-rethink-adoption-in-the-social-media-age-says-senior-judge

See also the speech given by Lord Justice McFarlane to the Family Justice Council ‘Holding the risk: The balance between child protection and the right to family life’at: https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/lecture-by-lj-mcfarlane-20160309.pdf