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Adoptive parents believe boys are 'too much trouble'
As prospective parents look through the Be My Parent adoption newspaper filled with photographs of hopeful children, it soon becomes apparent to them that there are far more boys looking for a new family than girls.
A snapshot of adoption agencies across the country last week revealed that boys are much more likely to be referred to a ""hard to place"" agency than girls. Experts fear boys are being overlooked because people believe little girls will be easier to look after.
According to the BAAF poll, most people believe that frequent coverage in the media of boys as knife-wielding, cannabis-smoking gang members may fuel the reluctance to adopt them. Experts hope to highlight the plight of little boys during National Adoption Week, which starts tomorrow, and to challenge their trouble-maker image.
David Holmes, chief executive of BAAF, said: ""Our survey suggests that one reason people may think twice about adopting a boy is because of the negative portrayal of boys in the media. Perhaps people have a more idealized image of a girl. We need to confront these stereotypes and try to dispel some of the negative myths.""
Around 3,600 children were adopted in the UK last year, 5 percent fewer than in 2006-07. If their local council struggles to find children a family, they are referred to independent agencies or the adoption register. Around two-thirds of the children referred to the national organization Be My Parent in 2005-06 were boys. One agency in East Sussex took twice as long on average to find families for the boys on their books.
Nearly one in 10 adopters are single parents, predominantly women. Gill Theophane, 48, a nurse from north London, adopted Rozie, four, when she was six months old in 2004. She said: ""The more I thought about it, I realized I would find it easier to relate to a girl than a boy. On a practical and an emotional level, I felt much more able to cope with a girl because I'd been there myself. I was very aware there were more boys waiting and I could have had my pick, but I felt so strongly about a girl that I was happy to wait for a year.""
Older children, sibling groups and those from black and ethnic minorities wait the longest for suitable homes.