Adoption is to be made "fairer and friendlier" with greater support for would-be adopters, the government says.
More people should consider adoption, the government says
In efforts to get more people to consider adoption, it hopes to offer prospective parents stronger support and better training for their new role.
Children would also be given a bigger say than at present, with their views made part of the adoption process.
The British Association for Adoption & Fostering said the plans to change the system, the first in 20 years, were "vitally important".
Children's Minister Margaret Hodge saidd the new measures, published for consultation during National Adoption Week, would help more children find "permanent and loving families".
She said: "Considering adoption is a big step, but bringing a child of any age into a caring loving family can be a hugely rewarding experience.
"I hope more people think about doing it."
Mrs Hodge said the number of children adopted had risen 25% over the past year, but that more still needed to be done.
She said the new measures would mean:
- Better information about the children being adopted, including details about their life so far
- More consistent preparation, support and training for adoptive parents
- Children will be asked their views and have their wishes taken into account
- Prospective adopters will have a right to a review if their adoption agency recommends they are rejected
- Less bureaucracy for parents wishing to adopt from overseas
The consultation, which runs until 1 May 2004, will involve all parties involved in adoption, the government said.
It also announced that the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) had been awarded the job of setting up a review body to oversee the decisions of local adoption agencies.
The BAAF said the new measures would "increase public confidence in the adoption process and make it more clear and transparent".
Welcoming its review panel role, chief executive Felicity Collier said: "It will provide a vitally important opportunity to ensure that people coming forward to adopt feel that they have a fair deal, whilst at the same time ensuring that the safety and security of children comes first in adopter assessment."