Sharp rise in number of adopted children returned to care

The number of children returned to care after being adopted has risen sharply in the past five years, new figures reveal.

An investigation by More4 News showed that, of the 92 local authorities that replied to its survey, 57 children were returned to care in 2008/09 compared with 26 in 2004/05. The rise comes despite a drop in the number of children being adopted in this period.

Local authorities are not obliged to keep data on adoption breakdowns, meaning the vast majority of the 450 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales contacted were unable to provide these figures.

Andrew Christie, policy lead on fostering and adoption at the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said that while conclusions may be difficult to draw from the small number of responses, any failed adoptions may be a reflection of the damage caused to children kept in dysfunctional families for too long.

He said: “Social workers often feel the odds are too heavily weighted in court in favour of the rights of the birth parents, and it is not unusual for them to be told that once again they must put a child through a prolonged period of assessment in a case where the mother has already had several children removed and placed for adoption.”

In Lord Laming’s review of child protection he stressed the need to act quickly to protect children at risk, saying: “It is important the social work relationship is not misunderstood as being a relationship for the benefit of the parents or for the relationship itself, rather than a focused intervention to protect the child and promote their welfare.”

According to data provided to More4 News, last year only four per cent of adopted children were babies, with the majority aged between one and four and nearly a quarter aged between five and nine.