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Adoption Viable Option For Unprepared Parents

Adoption Viable Option For Unprepared Parents

ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today urged the Labour Government to review its approach to child adoption, after two teenage parents in Dunedin were convicted of neglecting their three-month-old baby girl.

"The child was left with a broken thigh and no medical treatment for up to three weeks, showing that this couple is obviously not ready to be parents - yet these circumstances are mirrored throughout the country," Dr Newman said.

"Adoption was once an accepted option for unprepared parents in this country, with around 3,000 adoptions a year during the 1970s. This has dropped to only a few hundred. At the same time, however, the number of children being taken into state care is soaring, from 2,432 in 1996 to 4,480 in 2002 - an increase of 2,048 in only six years - and is expected to rise by six to seven percent each year.

"For many of these children, long-term state care is the Government's preferred option. They will be denied the opportunity to move into stable homes that adoption offers. Meanwhile, couples wishing to adopt are being prevented from doing so by the anti-adoption Labour Government - which is even trying to close the only agency that allows New Zealand couples to adopt children from overseas.

"State care is supposed to be a last resort. Adoption offers children a chance for a more stable life and, with the present preference for open adoption, contact with their birth parents can be retained as well.

"I am calling on the Government to re-think its view on adoption. Using welfare to encourage couples - who are out of work, unstable and emotionally unprepared for the responsibilities and rigours of parenthood - to keep their children, regardless of their ability to care for them, will only lead to more damaged children being taken into state care and suffering negative outcomes later in life," Dr Newman said.

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