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Clause 41 — Child to live with adopters before application

Part of Orders of the Day — Adoption and Children Bill — [2nd Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of Mr Paul Stinchcombe Mr Paul Stinchcombe Labour, Wellingborough 5:30 pm, 16th May 2002

There are also those who do share my belief in marriage but who find, no matter how hard they try in their own marriage, that they fail and that their marriage does not last. They have rights too, even if they do not remarry. Those rights surely extend far enough to include the right to offer to help to meet the needs of children in care by offering to be adoptive parents to them.

I do not, however, rest my case on the rights of the parent. I rest my case on the rights of the child. The child has rights too—the right to a family, the right to be loved by a family, and the right to be looked after by a family, even if that family unit does not match our ideal. We, in this House, should not sit in moral judgment over families, nor should we stand in the way of the rights of those children being met, for reasons of political or religious correctness or out of idealism.

We must strike a balance. We have an ideal, not universally shared and not realisable by Parliament. Against that ideal, we can weigh thousands of damaged, lonely, unloved, abandoned children, currently kept in care and kept out of families, when we might be able to find them a loving home. For me, that balance can yield only one result: the children must come first.