Progress on adoption framework welcomed

DUP South Antrim MLA and Health Spokesperson Pam Cameron has welcomed progress toward a new adoption framework in Northern Ireland but expressed disappointment that plans to protect and preserve records relating to mother and baby homes are not included in the current Bill.

By Pam Cameron MLA

South Antrim

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Commenting on the Adoption and Children Bill, Mrs Cameron said:

‘‘This legislation will be an important step forward toward ensuring that the welfare of a child is paramount in decisions taken at every stage of the adoption process in Northern Ireland.

In recent years there has been a decline in the number of people seeking to adopt. This may be related to the fact that it takes on average three years for a child to be adopted here. Northern Ireland also has some of the highest levels of post-adoption contact in the UK.

The current Bill will go some way to addressing these concerns. It provides powers to limit the duration of court proceedings and grant a standalone right for those in the adoption process to an assessment of support services.

However, it is worrying that a number of clauses which would have compelled holders of records in relation to births and other activities in Mother and Baby institutions and Magdalene Laundries have been deemed to be out of scope of the Bill. These protections would have made it an offence to alter or destroy such information and mirrored the recommendations of the Truth Recovery Design Panel.

We should not countenance a double standard in the preservation of - and access to - birth information. In this case, victims and survivors of historical institutions would be disadvantaged. It is critical that all parties come together to address this specific issue and pursue a solution in the limited time available in the current mandate.’’

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