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Chief political correspondent John Morrison
"The Children's minister accepts red tape has to be cut."
 real 56k

Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 18:18 GMT 19:18 UK
Adoption system faces review
Family
The adoption process will be modernised
Red tape has been blamed for a slump in the number of adoptions in Scotland over the last decade.

Figures have shown that the number of successful adoption applications has halved - falling from 900 to 450 in the last 10 years.

Now Education Minister Jack McConnell has launched a review of the system in an attempt to arrest the decline.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell announced the review
His aim will be to modernise the system and cut red tape.

He outlined the steps being taken in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

He was also expected to give his backing to moves at Westminster to prevent adoption over the internet.

Adoption law in Scotland was last changed in 1995.

Many couples say they are put off by the bureaucracy, as the selection and assessment process is seen as too intrusive.

Cutting red tape

Mr McConnell announced the review of the system in a written answer on Wednesday.

It will be headed by former Sheriff Principal Graham Cox and will aim to break down the barriers to adoption by modernising the system and cutting through red tape.

The review group will include parents and youngsters who have gone through the process.

Mr McConnell said: "For too long, the obstacles to adoption have grown and the numbers of children being adopted has fallen. We have to reverse that trend.

Judith and Alan Kilshaw
Judith and Alan Kilshaw bought the twins
"I am determined that more people should be able to consider providing a stable home for some of our young people."

He said the review would concentrate on domestic adoption arrangements because the Scottish Executive had already signalled its intention to close loopholes relating to the law on international adoption.

He was expected to tell MSPs later on Wednesday that legislation being prepared at Westminster will be accepted by ministers at Holyrood.

The move follows a controversial case involving a Welsh couple who bought twins from America over the web.

Alan and Judith Kilshaw, from Buckley in North Wales, are continuing their custody battle over nine-month-old Belinda and Kimberley at the High Court in London.

The twins have been looked after by foster parents since being seized in January by Flintshire Social Services, which is applying for the children to be made wards of court.

The Westminster legislation is being prepared to close the loophole which allowed the Kilshaws to buy the twins for 8,200 over the internet from their natural mother in America.

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18 Mar 01 | Background
Internet twins
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