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New Adoption Laws Welcomed

smiling familyParents can now trace children.

Unmarried and same sex couples have finally received the right to assume joint responsibility for an adopted child as part of the biggest shake-up in adoption laws for thirty years.

The reform aims to broaden the pool of potential adoptive parents at a time when there is an apparent shortage of suitable candidates.

At any one time there are more than 60,000 children in the care of local authorities in England and Wales.

The Act also introduced new rights for foster parents, who can now apply for 'special guardianship' orders, enabling them to take continuous responsibility for children until their 18th birthday.

But by far the most welcome change of all is that parents who gave up their children for adoption will now have the right to try to trace them through an intermediary service, provided the child wants contact.

Pam Hodgkins, chief executive of the National Adoption Agency, said 'adoptive children were often reluctant to trace their birth parents as they feared 'being rejected a second time'.

Agencies would contact people who have been adopted to ask if they wanted to be put in touch with their birth parents but noinformation would be exchanged without their permission.

Many mothers gave up their children for adoption under duress and spend their lives wondering what has become of their child, this new reform will give them some hope of reconciliation.

Although there is no upper age limit for adoption, prospective parents are expected to be sufficiently healthy. This means people who are overweight or who smoke, while not automatically disqualified, will have a more difficult time adopting now than a gay or cohabiting couple.

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