HC Deb 20 July 1944 vol 402 cc322-3
10. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Pensions if he is aware of the desire of families to adopt children who have lost their parents through enemy action; and will he make it known how this can be done.

Sir W. Womersley

I have received many offers from persons willing to care for war orphans and I have been able to take advantage of some of these in boarding out children for whom I am responsible under the War Orphans Act, 1942. If in any of these cases the foster parents express a desire to obtain an order for legal adoption after some considerable period, I am prepared, if I am completely satisfied that this would be in the interests of the child, to support the application to the Court.

Mr. Tinker

I take it, then, that in cases like that the application must be made to his Department, and not to the Home Office?

Sir W. Womersley

Yes, Sir. My Department is entirely responsible.

Mr. Murray

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have already sent a case on to him of a foster parent wanting to adopt a child? What is the cost likely to be?

Sir W. Womersley

If the foster parent is desirous of adopting, there should not be any expense at all.

Mr. G. Strauss

What has the right hon. Gentleman in mind when he says "after some considerable period"? What sort of time?

Sir W. Womersley

After what I consider is a fit and proper time to judge whether a child is being properly looked after and, on the other hand, whether the parents concerned are really desirous of adopting the child. Adoption, I may point out, is a very serious matter.

Mr. Godfrey Nicholson

When adoption has taken place in this way, does the Minister divest himself of all legal responsibility thereafter?

Sir W. Womersley

No, Sir; I follow out the Act of Parliament absolutely.

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