The Adoption Culture in the UK – Are Things Better Across the Pond?

 by David Williamson

England-adoptions in the UK

I have long considered adoption in the United Kingdom to be a rather drab affair; utterly annihilating the supposed joy such an affair should presumably bring. However, having become more acquainted with the procedures within the United States, it must be said that for all it’s bureaucratic boredom, the system is pragmatic. It is a working system that, despite in many cases taking a very long time, ensures the best possible outcome for both the children and their adoptive parents. Whether it can truly be argued that the system here is ‘better’ is certainly a worthy debate, but let’s look at some of the key differences. Are things better across the pond?

Adoption Agencies and The Adoption Process

It must be said, that the biggest downfall in the American adoption system is the agencies that operate within it, a notion that any visitor to this site shall surely agree with. The fact that these are private organisations making a profit from the system commodifies human life. In Britain, then, there is no charge to use the services of an adoption agency, or to enlist one to help you through the adoption process.

In fact, the whole procedure which can rack up a tally thousands in the US would rarely cost over £160 in England and Wales; with nothing more than a one-off court fee to be fronted by the adoptive parents.  What’s more too, these adoption agencies are also strictly controlled and must meet a very strict set of criteria before they can go ahead and assist in aiding people’s pursuit of adoption, a criteria that is heavily controlled and continuously regulated by the government (for those interested, the entire run-down of regulations can be seen here).

Now, a common assumption that may follow the financial implications of British adoption would probably be that adoption rates in the UK are higher than the US. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the case. In the UK, on average, around 0.2 children are adopted for every 100 live births, where as in America that figure is as high as 3 adoptions per every 100 live births. With this in mind, how is it that despite the staggering financial difference between the procedures in both countries, the UK comes out massively short?

A Lengthy Adoption Process

One likely explanation is the sheer length of time it can take to complete a formal adoption in the UK. Of course, it can take its time in the US, too, but perhaps due in part to the financial aspect of the American process, it tends not to be quite as long as the British system.

It is not unheard for an adoption process to run into the years. In fact, one adoptive mother interviewed by the Telegraph in 2012 was quoted as saying “The whole thing took two-and-a-half years,” while another declared it was even a little over 3 in her case. This tends to be the type of length to expect when considering adopting a child in the UK. In fact, this has even spurned a few high-profile international adoptions from those in the public eye. David Miliband, for example, a high-flying British politician and brother of Labour party leader Ed Miliband spent a reported £20,000 to adopt a child from America and have it home in time for Christmas of 2004. Though this probably says more about US adoption that in does about the way in the UK.

What it Takes to Adopt a Child in the UK

To actually adopt a child in the UK, the adoptive parents must meet a certain criteria, judged over a period of time through frequent assessments and visits by social workers. First, there are some sensible restrictions legally placed on the adoptive parents: They must be at least 21 years of age, be a resident of the UK and have no criminal record (with very few exceptions). This basic criteria must be met before approaching any adoption agency in the country, at which point the adoptive parents will then become privy to whatever assessment criteria is applicable per agency. Within this bracket adoptive parents will see things such as age limits (normally around the mid 30s – 40 mark), proof of good health, hobbies and habits. Even something such as a smoking habit or an especially dangerous hobby can then rule you out of the running should you not prove that you are willing to change your lifestyle.

Fundamentally, the whole system of adoption in the UK is geared toward one thing: Putting children into loving and happy homes. For whatever reason, the demand sadly does not match the supply and there are at any one time well over 60,000 children either in care or awaiting adoption in England alone. The main difference between the US and the UK, though, is simple: An industry of putting children up for adoption doesn’t exist here.

It should be remembered, however, that if you are considering adoption as either an adoptive parent or looking to give up a child, be sure to consult a family law solicitor Coles that can provide you with a better insight as to what to expect considering your individual circumstances.

Notes from Claud:

So, as stated this is an SEO post for the most part, but there are some points worth mentioning.

I was actually kind of doubtful about the US numbers of “3 adoptions per every 100 live births” and had to double check that. Believe it or not, if we take a simple 4 million live births in the USA per year, and factor in the approximate 15,000 voluntary adoption relinquishments per year, then one actually does come up with a ration of 2.66 adoptions per 100 live births! Hence, I went from doubt to shock.

I also want to point that the UK has 60,000 kids in the foster system waiting adoption, while the USA has 100,000 kids in foster READY to adopt ( with way more kids in system) but due to the nature of the two different systems, we are then comparing apples to oranges then back to apples to apples. Or voluntary to foster, but then foster to foster.

An lastly, while the UK does NOT have the profit based agency adoption system that we do, the stories of horrible child protective services abuses are coming out and they are enough to my skin crawl. Instead of mothers getting duped by agencies and made to believe that adoption is a loving option, UK CPS is forcible removing children, often for no good reason, and adopting them out.  So I have to say there is still a true mechanism for the separation of mothers and children based on unethical and fraudulent means.

More Articles on the UK Forced Adoptions:

SYSTEMIC PATTERNS of Child Snatching and Forced Adoptions in the UK – a first draft for the EU Petitions Committee

And a petition to sign for our UK friends:

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About the Author

Musings of the Lame was started in 2005 primarily as a simple blog recording the feelings of a birthmother as she struggled to understand how the act of relinquishing her first newborn so to adoption in 1987 continued to be a major force in her life. Built from the knowledge gained in the adoption community, it records the search for her son and the adoption reunion as it happened. Since then, it has grown as an adoption forum encompassing the complexity of the adoption industry, the fight to free her sons adoption records and the need for Adoptee Rights, and a growing community of other birthmothers, adoptive parents and adopted persons who are able to see that so much what we want to believe about adoption is wrong.

3 Comments on "The Adoption Culture in the UK – Are Things Better Across the Pond?"

  1. I think a lot of the problems with the UK system is that councils get money from the government for every adoption they organise. Thus, it is in the councils best interest to facilitate as many adoptions as possible.

    it would be interesting to get your take on both the Australian and NZ adoption scenes. They are in fact quite different – NZ has some similarities to the US. In Australia, each state is different although adoptions are low in all of them – I’ve only really done research in NSW adoptions.

  2. ‘…these adoption agencies are also strictly controlled and must meet a very strict set of criteria before they can go ahead and assist in aiding people’s pursuit of adoption…’

    My baby son was adopted in the early 1980s in the UK.

    I found out, upon reunion, that he had been adopted into a household that had already been in significant arrears with their mortgage; that one of the parents had substance abuse issues that would eventually lead to their death; that the marriage dissolved acrimoniously while my son was still a boy; and that there was enough emotional and psychological abuse in the air for my son to be made homeless whilst still a minor.

    Yes, very carefully controlled.
    Still trotting out that loving and happy home malarkey? My son would’ve been happier with me, and most certainly more loved.

    • Yeah, the same BS about the USA “home study” is still in effect with often, sadly, similar results. Sounds like the UK “screening” is along the same lines….more pretty wrappings to make everyone feel good, but based on BS and who has the money and power

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