30/08/2011 06:39 BST | Updated 29/10/2011 10:12 BST

Martin Narey, Ministerial Adviser, Says We Are Denying Adoption Unnecessarily

PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Britain has a system that is better at thwarting adoption than achieving it, and that has to change, according to a ministerial adviser.

Martin Narey told The Times that "we are denying adoption to thousands of children unnecessarily".

The former chief executive of Barnardo's and director general of the Prison Service said the system of placing children with new families was too slow and bureaucratic.

Black children in care are being held back for adoption by social workers waiting for ethnically-matched couples to come forward, despite new government guidance that race should not be a barrier to finding a family, he says.

"I've met one adoptive carer who was peremptorily rejected by 17 separate local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies because she, a white woman, wanted to adopt a black child to be a sibling to her mixed-race son.

"And I've had a moving letter from a mother who fostered a black child at 12 months, wanted to adopt him and had the support of his birth mother, but for two and a half years endured 'a painful and stressful journey when each morning I thought my son would be removed because a black family had been found'."

Despite guidance which makes plain that black children must not wait unduly long for adoption while search is made for an ethnic match, many practitioners remain resistant to what they call transracial placements, he writes.