Here is the link. I have put the story down below.
Why adoption is so easy in America
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 31/10/2007
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As Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his wife adopt a second son from the US, Cassandra Jardine compares the simplicity of the process over there with the frustration of trying to give a needy child a home in Britain
There are certain American websites currently offering mouth-watering incentives to would-be buyers. "Delivery within four months", "Discounts of up to $19,000", they proclaim.
Tough love: Madonna overcame many obstacles to adopt her son, David, from Malawi
If it were cars they were selling this would not seem odd, but it's babies that are for sale – bright, smiling newborns to tempt the childless into parting with about £20,000.
There is no shame in treating babies like any other purchase in America, where the adoption industry is largely privatised and run by firms that promise to bring together pregnant women and adoptive families, deal with all the legal niceties and ensure there are no hitches along the way.
Right now, there is something of an ongoing sales push: November is National Adoption Awareness Month, which aims to get more Americans to choose adoption, both as buyers and as sellers. The rash of Hollywood stars who adopt has reduced what little social stigma was attached to adoption.
From Elizabeth Taylor and Julie Andrews a few decades ago, through to Diane Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman more recently, adoption is seen as a logical choice for those who can't have children, don't have a partner or who are reluctant to take time off from their careers.
"To me it's curious that adoption is kind of exotic in the UK," says Tina, a single professional in her late forties, living in New York, who adopted a baby a year ago. "In the US, it's not a big deal at all."
Unlike Britain, where babies have been in short supply since contraception and single parenthood became widespread and acceptable in the 1970s, there has never been a shortage of babies to adopt in America.
There, abortion is not an option in many states and the inadequacies of the welfare system make bringing up a child almost impossible for single parents without a regular income. All prospective adoptive parents have to do is register with an agency – preferably one operating in the southern states, where more babies are available – and write such a mouth-watering description of the home on offer that the mother-to-be will pick them to give her child a new and brighter future.
When it's made so easy over there, it is scarcely surprising that Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his American-born wife Louise have chosen to take this route, rather than endure the frustrations of attempting to adopt within Britain.
Here, it can prove a soul-destroying experience, especially if you are – like the Milibands – white, middle-class and over 40.
Three years ago they adopted their first son, Isaac, from America amid unwarranted suspicions that they had been fast-tracked in obtaining the home study that is required before a child can be brought to Britain. When they wanted a sibling, it was only natural to return to the United States to find Jacob.
The system there is especially attractive to parents who want to bond with a child from birth. Birth mother and adopters are paired up early in the pregnancy, with the advantage to the mother that she gets her "expenses" paid by the adopters, almost as if she was a surrogate carrying a donated sperm and/or egg.
The adopters, in return, hope the pregnant woman will live a lifestyle that protects the unborn child – although there are plenty of stories about women who take the money and behave irresponsibly.
The other agonising worry for the adopters is whether the birth mother will exercise her right to keep her child after the birth. It is no surprise that this issue figures in the most frequently asked questions on the adoption websites. The agencies promise to do ''all we can to protect you from disruption". The only thing they don't offer is a money-back guarantee.
Given the demand for, and scarcity of, very young babies to adopt in Britain, it is surprising that more people here do not head West to fulfil their dreams of a family. The Milibands are among a tiny number – some 20 to 30 a year – of British couples who adopt from America.
It may have been easier for them because of Louise Miliband's dual nationality but Maxine Caswell of Oasis, the Overseas Adoption Support and Information Service, says it is neither necessary to live in America nor to have citizenship in order to adopt an American baby because the United States is not yet a signatory to the Hague Convention, which requires babies to be kept within their country of origin wherever possible.
Adoption policy in Britain is very different, aiming to keep babies with mothers wherever possible or to find a placement within a family so that only six per cent of children are adopted before their first birthday. Between birth and adoption these babies have often been exposed to less than ideal environments, which can cause behavioural problems later.
Add to that policies on ethnic matching and guidelines about the generation gap being no more than 40 years and the result is that most people who only start to think about adoption in their thirties, after having tried and failed to have their own children, find they are ineligible.
Only 3,000 to 4,000 children are adopted each year in this country out of 80,000 in care, many of them mentally or physically disabled or deemed "problem" children. In rural or suburban areas very few children are available, while in inner cities there is a major problem in finding the resources to put would-be adopters through the long training and assessment programme.
Camden, north London, where the Milibands live, is part of a consortium of five boroughs which between them have 100 children up for adoption, many from ethnic minorities. In the Foreign Secretary's South Shields constituency, only one family of three siblings is currently available.
Any couple who wants to adopt a child from abroad must undergo the home study process which can take up to 18 months, but the other criteria – such as age and skin colour – for adopters may not be as strict. However, they should be under no illusion that it is easy, according to Maxine Caswell.
"We only help people adopt from countries where children wouldn't be able to find a home within their boundaries," she says, before rattling through the options that account for the 400 inter-country adoptions a year to this country, only a tenth of the number that France, Italy and Spain achieve.
For the past 12 years, China has been the key source, particularly of girls. With a backlog of 20,000 applications (many of them from Americans who like inter-country adoption because it is cheaper) it now takes 23 months before you are given the name of the available child. And, as China gets richer, there are more childless middle-class couples coming forward to adopt within China.
Russia is the next most popular choice, particularly for those seeking white children, but there are difficulties. The cost is high – some £15,000, as American agencies organise the adoptions – and the children are usually a year old before they are handed over, by which time they may have suffered some degree of institutionalisation.
Guatemala has long been a source of babies, with one per cent of children given up for adoption, but there have recently been fears about girls from rural areas being pressurised to give up their babies to feed the demand. Thailand organises adoption efficiently, but foreigners are allowed to adopt only if no local family can be found. India is another possibility but it can be slow bureaucratically.
Millions of children in Africa need new parents as a result of wars or Aids, but Ethiopia, where Angelina Jolie struck lucky, is so far the only country allowing children to be adopted by British couples. It takes the might of a Madonna to break through the restrictions elsewhere. She and husband Guy Ritchie adopted their son, David, from Malawi.
No doubt there are many who are queasy about this world-wide trade in babies, but there will be many couples desperate for a family who, having read about the Milibands' experience with the quick, efficient but expensive American system, will now be wondering if this is the right path for them.
They had better hurry as America is unlikely to be a source of newborns for much longer. Next year it is due to sign the Hague Convention.
From then on, those seeking newborns will have to give careful consideration to surrogacy – which surely isn't so very different from monitoring a child almost from conception, as the American adoption agencies do.