§ Mr. Hutton
We made clear in Local Authority Circular (98)20, copies of which are available in the Library, that although a child's ethnic origin, culture, language and religion are significant factors to be taken into account when adoption agencies are considering the most appropriate placement for a child, it is unacceptable for a child to be denied loving adoptive parents solely on the grounds that the child and adopters do not share the same racial or cultural background.
Although age is one consideration among many that is taken into account in assessing the suitability of prospective adopters, the guidance also makes it clear that there should be no upper age restriction to people applying to become adoptive parents. It is clear that for far too long children drift in the care system when suitable adopters are available.
In February, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced a review of adoption services. In July, the report by the Performance and Innovation Unit was published for consultation. We will be publishing a White Paper on adoption before the end of the year. In addition, as part of our commitment to modernising services, we will be publishing, for consultation, a draft set of evidence-based national standards for adoption.