Adoption campaigners have taken on agency help as the Government
draws up tough new laws in the wake of the recent 'internet babies'
The British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering has recruited Connect
Public Affairs to handle lobbying work as the Adoption and Children Bill
makes its way through Parliament.
Connect director Steve Barwick heads a two-member team and reports to
BAAF chief executive Felicity Collier.
The bill, which regulates internet adoption for the first time and gives
adopting parents more rights and support, is being fast-tracked through
the parliamentary process by the Government in the wake of the Kilshaws'
However if, as expected, the Government goes to the polls in June, the
legislation is unlikely to become law this session and may have to wait
until after the election.
Barwick said: 'We are not sure when that will be. It is being
scrutinised by a specially set-up committee at the moment, which has
been put in place to speed up the process. Whether we have to wait until
after the election or not we will work with BAAF right up until the bill
One of Connect's first tasks is to assist the BAAF to prepare a
submission for the select committee.
Collier said the decision to take on a public affairs agency was
necessary as the legislation is the first major overhaul of adoption
procedures for 25 years.
There are currently 28,000 children in the UK who have been in care for
more than two years. The Adoption and Children Bill aims to cut this
number by introducing a computerised national adoption register to speed
up the matching of prospective parents and children.
Collier said: 'This bill is a once in a lifetime opportunity to ensure
that adoption law will truly meet the needs of children. It is
absolutely crucial that the Government gets it right.'
Last week, Judith and Alan Kilshaw, who tried to adopt twins through a
child broker advertising on the internet, announced they would not
challenge a High Court ruling ordering that the children be returned to
At the end of this month, separate legislation comes into force making
it a crime for UK residents to bring a child into the country to adopt,
unless through a registered agency such as a local authority.
The BAAF is an umbrella organisation whose members include local
authority social services departments, voluntary adoption agencies and
medical, legal and social work professionals.