LONDON — Race should no longer be a key criteria for social workers seeking adoptive families for children in care, Britain’s government said yesterday, stressing that the priority must instead be to find a child a new home quickly.
Education Secretary Michael Gove, who was adopted, said that for too long sensitivities about ethnicity had complicated efforts to place black and ethnic minority children, meaning they wait far longer than white children for a permanent home.
Issuing new advice to those working on adoptions, Gove moved Britain closer in line to European neighbors, who largely disregard a child’s ethnicity.
Dismissing critics, which include the National Association of Black Social Workers in the United States, who insist ethnicity must be a concern when matching a child to adoptive parents, he said “politically correct attitudes and ridiculous bureaucracy’’ had left officials too reluctant to authorize interracial adoptions.
“As a result children from ethnic minority backgrounds languish in care for longer than other kids and are denied the opportunities they deserve,’’ said Gove. “This misguided nonsense punishes those who most need our help and that is why this government is sweeping it away.’’
He claimed difficulties in placing ethnic minority children had led to a decline in the country’s adoption rate.
Social workers have often been reluctant to place children with parents of a different race because of concerns it may make it harder for a child to integrate with their new family, or because it can make it immediately apparent that a child’s adoptive parents are not their biological parents.