| Michelle Pfeiffer in a scene from her new film White Oleander. (Reuters)
British career women are increasingly willing to copy American celebrities such as Calista Flockhart and Michelle Pfeiffer and
adopt children to become single mothers, according to research published today.
The survey, for National Adoption Week, also found that married people are no longer the group most likely to consider adopting. People who cohabit with a partner of the same or the opposite sex are more likely to consider adopting, as are single people. Attitudes to adoption are changing as relationships change, Felicity Collier, the chief executive of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said yesterday.
“But one thing does not change — children have a much better chance of a successful life if they are adopted than if they grow up in a local authority home.” There are 5,000 children in care waiting for adoptive parents. The survey showed that nine per cent of cohabiting couples would consider adopting in future, but only three per cent of married couples. However, five per cent of all single people would consider adopting. The figure rose to seven per cent among single 25- to 34-year-olds.
The law has long allowed single people to adopt, but it is increasingly seen as a viable option by men and women who are not in a long-term relationship, added Collier. The research could not be compared with previous surveys, she said. But she believed it showed there was an increasing number of people outside the traditional family who were keen to adopt.
“The survey asked all ages. I think the single people were on average younger, which partly explains why more were considering adopting.
“But there are many single women who have not found the right relationship in which to create a child but are keen to have a child. There have always been a small number of single women who have a philanthropic approach to adopting children. Others do not want to give birth. Others know they cannot have children.”
Flockhart was 36 when she adopted a baby, Liam, last year. She plans to marry Harrison Ford on Christmas Day. Pfeiffer was 34 when she adopted a daughter in March 1993, Claudia Rose, now aged nine. She married David E Kelley, the creator of Ally McBeal, eight months later and in August 1994 gave birth to their son, John Henry, now eight.
If unmarried couples want to adopt, the child is legally registered only to one of the parties. But the House of Lords will this week debate legislation that would enable couples to adopt jointly.
MPs have already given the go-ahead, but some Conservative peers
are to table an amendment to stop it becoming law.
Miss Collier said the association backed the change. "We want to
avoid children becoming legal orphans if one partner dies."
The survey of 1,836 adults also showed that 12 per cent of people
thought abuse or neglect was the main reason children needed
adoption. The association said that this reason applied to 39 per
cent of children needing adoption.
Miss Collier said there was a "worrying lack of understanding
about why children need to be adopted".
Mothers who have given children up for adoption should find it
easier to trace them under plans announced by the Government
yesterday. The law will be changed so that adoption agencies have
a duty to provide information about the whereabouts of a child to
support organisations acting on behalf of mothers hoping for a
The agencies will be able to release details of a child only if he
or she is over 18 and willing for information to be passed on.
The change, designed to simplify the search process, will be
introduced as an amendment to the Adoption and Children Bill in
the Lords this week.
Jacqui Smith, the health minister, also announced yesterday that
over the next three years the Government would spent an extra £70
million on adoption services.
2 September 2002: Ford and Flockhart in speedboat chase through
18 June 2002: Navratilova wants to adopt a child
17 May 2002: MPs pave the way for gay adoption
6 September 2001: Internet adoption pair delay eviction order
12 January 2001: Ally McBeal star adopts baby after seeing him
9 October 2000: Adoption shake-up urged
13 July 2000: Single men can foster children, says minister
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