§ Mr. Thurnham
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many instances of complaint against local social security services he has received during the last five years from British citizens who have felt their efforts to adopt children from overseas have been hindered by lack of co-operation from social services staff.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
I have been asked to reply.
The Department receives representations from time to time from people who find that local authorities are unable to provide advice and services in connection with the proposed adoption of children from overseas. People who contemplate this very serious step are especially in need of skilled advice and counselling. We would hope that this would be available from local authorities, bearing in mind the guidance issued by the Department in 1987 to introduce the comprehensive adoption service: the guidance stated that counselling of prospective adopters, including those who seek to adopt from overseas, should be provided as part of the service. It is particularly important that such people should know that arrangements to adopt a child from overseas should be made only through properly authorised agencies or charitable organisations.