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UK PM proposes adoption reforms

United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron [official profile; BBC profile] spoke on new plans to reform the nation's adoption process, basing it on speed rather than ethnicity. Currently, white children are three times more likely to be adopted than minority children because of the United Kingdom's standard of making an ethnic match. The country's current adoption law, the Adoption and Children Act 2002 [text] requires consideration of matching prospective adopted children with parents on religion, race, ethnicity, language and culture. Cameron and the UK government are proposing several changes to the adoption process in order to achieve quicker adoptions. Local authorities will soon be required to reduce delay rather than wait for a "perfect match." If an adoptive match is not found within three months, local authorities are required to place the child on the national adoption register. Cameron's reforms also detail procedural and legal changes to lower the threshold for children to be fostered by people approved for adoption. The proposal was welcomed by various organizations including the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) [advocacy website], but they also expressed concerns that if speed is the main key factor, it may lead to hasty decisions of adoption having only detrimental results to children. A more detailed version of the reform will be published next week by the Education Secretary Michael Gove [official website].

A similar reform was affirmed in Italy when the Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] ruled [JURIST report] in June that couples seeking a child to adopt based on race or ethnicity should be not even allowed to apply for adoption. It held that such practice was against the Italian Constitution. The issue of who could adopt was a recent issue in the UK. The UK Charity Commission [official website] ruled in August [JURIST report] that Catholic social services agency Catholic Care [advocacy website] could not discriminate against gay couples seeking to adopt. This holding reversed a prior decision by the UK High Court in March which permitted [JURIST report] the agency to refuse considering same-sex couples as candidates for adoption.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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