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Monday, 30 April, 2001, 04:54 GMT 05:54 UK
Internet adoption laws tightened
Internet twins
The fate of these twins sparked an adoption debate
New laws tightening up international adoption procedure have come into force.

The legislation comes in the wake of attempts by the Welsh couple, Alan and Judith Kilshaw to adopt twins from America over the internet.

Anyone who attempt to bring children into the England or Wales without their suitability being assessed and approved by authorities could face jail or a hefty fine.

But the new laws contain loopholes, warn adoption agencies.

Judith and Alan Kilshaw
The Kilshaws lost their battle to adopt twins

The legislation is designed to make it illegal to adopt from abroad without going through the same rigorous checks as would apply if adopting in England and Wales.

Failure to comply could mean three months in jail of a 5,000 fine.

Health minister John Hutton said: "We have to be satisfied that people who bring children into this country for the purposes of adoption have been properly vetted and this law will hopefully ensure that there are safeguards for these children."

Legal loopholes

But adoption agencies say that the new laws have shortcomings because Britain recognises adoption procedures in America and most other European countries.

So couples adopting there will still be exempt from these stringent checks.

The government is considering further legislation to tackle this.

The Kilshaws arranged to adopt the twins over the internet but have lost their fight to keep them.

The couple paid 8,200 for the babies to an internet adoption agency.

But Flintshire social services placed the twins in emergency foster care in January.

And earlier this month, a High Court judge ruled that the girls should return to the US.

The twin girls are now living there with foster parents until their future is decided.

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See also:

19 Apr 01 | Wales
Internet twins fly back to US
18 Mar 01 | Background
Internet twins
22 Apr 01 | Americas
Parents visit internet twins
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