800,000 people in UK have been adopted and it is reckoned that millions of others are affected by adoption. Adoption became legal in England and Wales in 1926. In some European countries there is practically no adoption. With exception of Indonesia, Malaysia, Somalia, Tunisia and Turkey, laws of most Muslim-majority states do not currently permit legal adoption. Islamic law does not even recognize the concept of adoption. In US 14% of adoptions are by relatives, whereas most adopters in Britain are people formerly unknown to the child.
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 seeks to improve adoption rates. History of adoption reveals changes within society. Legal adoption began with passing of the Adoption of Children Act 1926. Before that there was only informal adoption such as wet-nursing and informal provisions for the care of a child. Customarily, adoption was a way of handing children of single mothers to married infertile couples but it is no longer thus. It is rather a service for children. Approximatively 50 mothers place their children for adoption in a year. Adoption was based on the ‘transplant’ model. Baroness Hale explains in re P : “an adoption order does far more than depriving birth parents of their parental responsibility... It severs irrevocably and for all time, the legal relationship between a child and her family of birth. It creates irrevocably and for all time, the legal relationship, not only between the child and her adoptive parents, but between the child and each of her adoptive parents’ families”. The Government showed aspiration to greatly increase adoption orders as adoptions have been in gradual decline since many years; still adoption rate from care of children in UK is already one of the highest in the world.
Under Article 20 of the UNCRC States owe duties of ‘special protection and assistance’ to children harmed by their families. They have the right to life, a right to know and be cared for by parents, and a right to freedom of expression. S.1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 allows state intervention if a child’s proper growth is being avoidably prevented or neglected, his health avoidably impaired or he is being ill-treated or abuse damages his/her prospects of safe and healthy growth into adulthood.
The history of state-organised child care is miserable with extensive evidence of abuse and mistreatment of children in children’s homes. A and S relates to children subject to freeing orders. A had experienced 77 moves and S 96, including in and out of respite placements. Eventually both boys sought declarations for breach of their Articles 3, 6 and 8 rights. It was held that both the local authority and IRO admitted breach of the boys’ human rights, since they denied them of a family life, failed to give them a proper prospect of securing an adoptive placement, and failed to provide precise information to the IRO, failed to encourage rights of the children to access legal advice and failed to...