Author:Elizabeth, Baroness
Position:30th anniversary of British Association for Adoption and Fostering

It gives me great pleasure to write the foreword to this edition of Adoption & Fostering marking BAAF's 30th anniversary.

When I was a judge in the family division, I was required to make decisions in complex situations and to consider many different points of view. These include not only those of the local authority, birth parents and children, but also complicated medical and forensic assessments and research findings on child development. Thus, in facilitating the development of substitute care, whether fostering or adoption, a multi-professional perspective is essential. One of BAAF's great achievements is to have encouraged this and sought the highest standards in its training, publications and specialist legal, health, black perspectives and research groups. It has gained the respect of all the professions involved in the care of children.

Many of the decisions that have to be made concern long-term outcomes for children, and there is an inevitable tension between those which have to be taken now and estimates of their likely effect in future years. Again, through its research, publications and dissemination activities, BAAF has strived to ensure that the best evidence is available to a wide audience. In disseminating research findings, BAAF has always been strictly non-partisan, committed to the welfare of children rather than to doctrinaire policies or specific interest groups. When it has been felt necessary, it has challenged current thinking and policies, as illustrated in Tony Hall and colleagues' article describing the arguments surrounding transracial placements in the 1980s.

BAAF has made great efforts to link different sources of information, the nature of which often makes them difficult to reconcile. There are abstractions in the law, with concepts such as the welfare principle or significant harm; there are the complexities of research studies, rarely providing unequivocal findings; and then there are the difficulties of practice--a mixture of art and science, as outlined in John Triseliotis's article on contact. BAAF's efforts to marry all of these are manifest in its...

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