Reforms to the island’s adoption laws have been approved by Legislative Council.

The Adoption Bill was granted a third reading by MLCs last week. That completes its passage through the upper chamber, although it will now go back to the House of Keys for scrutiny of amendments made.

Kerry Sharpe, who guided the bill through the Legislative Council process, said: ’We have achieved the greatest aim of the bill, to update the island’s adoption legislation.

’We can now say with some certainty that Manx adoption legislation reflects societal attitudes in the 21st Century.’

She added: ’By updating this legislation we are seeking to improve the lives of vulnerable children by giving them much-needed stability at the earliest and most appropriate opportunity.’

The bill will change the focus of current law to ensure the needs of the child are always central.

It should speed up the adoption process itself.

It modernises legislation that dates back to 1984 and covers areas including mechanisms for an adopted person and birth relatives contacting each other.

The legislation is the first part of a two-stage update, by the Department of Health and Social Care, of laws concerning children, with the current Children and Young Persons Act due for reform.

Mrs Sharpe said: ’If there is one thing I have learned from my research into the 150-year history of children in care in this island it is that whatever we think we are doing well, hindsight inevitably proves that we are never doing enough.

’Looking to the next administration, I look forward to the second phase of the department’s commitment to improve circumstances for vulnerable children from a new and improved Children and Young Person’s Act.’