Every child deserves a loving home. Yet for too many this fundamental right is just a dream.
That is why I am backing ‘The Sun’s’ National Adoption Week campaign, in association with The British Association for Adoption and Fostering.
I urge you to look at the photographs and read the stories of the children featured on these pages. They represent just a few of the thousands of children desperate to be adopted.
Last year only 3,050 children found new homes by adoption, while the number in the care system rose to 65,000.
On average it takes more than two and a half years between a child entering care and being adopted. We have to do better.
That’s why we are tackling the politically correct attitudes and ridiculous bureaucracy that keep too many children waiting far too long.
We’ve scrapped the edicts which say children have to be adopted by families from the same ethnic background.
And we’ve slimmed down the guidance to help speed up the adoption process.
We also need to make sure the system works for all children, regardless of where they live.
In some areas, more than 20% of children in care are adopted. In others, it’s less than 5%.
One council managed to place every single child within 12 months of their adoption decision. Another, just 43%.
Adoption may not be the right choice for every child but this level of variation is inexcusable.
So this week the Prime Minister and I have published new performance tables to shine a light on those who aren’t doing as well as they should.
And we won’t stand by where children are being let down. Where councils persistently fail in their basic responsibilities, we will ask an agency or a council with a proven track record to take over their care services.
Judges must play their part too. Delays in the family courts are paralysing the adoption process.
Looked-after children – the vulnerable and the voiceless – desperately need our support. Their plight should matter to every one of us. There is a special reason why this issue matters so much to me. I was adopted. I was given a second chance.
Without it, my future may well have been blighted, my opportunities limited and my chance to make a difference gone.
To me, my parents are heroes. I will never forget, and can never adequately repay, their selfless generosity. But what I can do is reflect on how different my life might have been.
And that is what drives me to do all that I can for those children who need heroes of their own.