Belfast Telegraph

Myths 'are preventing adoptions'

By Colm O'Carroll

Children in Northern Ireland are missing out on a loving home because of “myths and legends” about the adoption process, it’s been claimed.

The warning comes at the start of National Adoption Week today.

New research reveals alarming public misconceptions around adoption on issues including obesity and smoking.

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF), says it is concerned that people here may be needlessly disqualifying themselves from adoption simply because they don't have the full facts.

Some of their key findings include that 31% believed anyone over 40 was ruled out of adoption and 29% thought single men couldn't adopt.

A quarter also thought you couldn't adopt if you smoke, while 21% thought being obese excluded you from adoption. BAAF said that in fact health issues such as smoking and obesity do not rule people out of adopting.

While most knew that having some types of criminal convictions, particularly against children, would exclude you, others thought that there was a blanket ban on anyone with a criminal record.

That is not necessarily true and depends on various factors such as the type of offence and how recent it was. Other reasons people thought would prevent you from adopting included not being able to swim, reading a tabloid newspaper and being religious.

The charity was also concerned to find that public perceptions about the adoption system were more than 30 years out of date.

More than half of people here thought that the main reason children were adopted was because they had been “given up” by their birth family. Others thought most children waiting for adoption were orphans.

BAAF said that while this used to be the case many years ago, the most common reason for children needing adoption now is because they have been removed from their birth families because of abuse and neglect.

In addition, over a third held the view that adoption is primarily a service for infertile couples, or existing parents who want to add to their families.

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