#ForcedAdoption Children and Social Work Bill at Committee Stage in House of Lords

cb6c7c5f-6e35-4ddc-b271-578ad6c9a84cThis is a serious bill that seems to enshrine WORSENING of what Social Services are doing to families already.

It talks about ‘Corporate Parenting’ as if that was NORMAL…

It is pro-adoption without even mentioning parental consent. Yet it is known that 96% of all adoptions are ‘forced’, i.e. children are forcibly removed, their removal is legitimised in secret family courts and judges enforce the adoption against the parents’ wills.

Before our eyes. In our face. Daylight robbery. Of children!!! I am soo shocked! And I guess so will be the 5,900 supporters who signed our online petition to STOP forced adoptions where we changed the title to stop forced REMOVALS!

Here are the critical links:

  1. Lord Nash – the Government Representative as Sponsor
  2. The Text
  3. The Legislative Stage or Progress of the Bill
  4. The First Reading on 15 May 2016
  5. The Debate on 14 June 2016 – called the Second Reading
  6. The Committee Stage started with this Debate on 29 June 2016
  7. Future Committee Stage hearings scheduled for 04 July, 06 July and 11 July.

Here’s the objection from campaigners: 

We write to express our strong opposition to this Bill. We are glad that you and other Peers raised serious concerns at Second Reading and that these are reflected in some of the amendments to be discussed at Committee Stage starting today.

We would very much like to meet with you as a matter of urgency to discuss these issues and hope this can be arranged. Please see attached testimony from mothers and grandmothers about the tragedy of forced adoption, which this Bill promotes.

We are particularly alarmed at:

  • this latest push for adoption as the “gold standard” over enabling children to live with their mother or other family member, especially grandparents;
  • the disregard for children’s views, wishes and feelings about the people they love and want to live and/or have contact with, including parents, grandparents and siblings;
  • the lack of support for mothers and kinship carers (family and friends) while prospective adoptive and foster parents are given help;
  • the increasing levels of poverty so the children of low income families are much more likely to be taken into care;
  • children in care are four times more likely to experience mental health difficulties;
  • the potential privatisation of children’s services; the provision for local authorities to drop statutory duties; and the shift of power from parliament to the executive.

As one of the peers pointed out, it is never right to experiment on children – but this is what this bill does. Who is to benefit from it? Which private agencies stand to make money from children’s suffering?

A child protection social worker has warned that:

The ‘undeserving poor’ have lost their council homes; lost their benefits and lost their community services; why not make it easier to lose their children too?”

We would like to stress that most of the mothers who come to us are victims of domestic violence, who instead of help are penalised by having their children taken away. This is unbearably traumatic for the children who are separated from the mother they love who is their first protector. In many cases residence or contact is given to the violent father as shown in the recent tragic murder of Ellie Baxter, who was torn away from her grandparents against her wishes and given to her violent father. At least nineteen children have lost their lives in this way.

Clauses 1-9:

We support efforts to improve the lives of care leavers. But the term “corporate parent,” while not new, is terrifying and its use is clearly being extended. The idea that the state and/or private companies should arrogate to themselves the role of a parent assumes that children can be cared for and raised outside of a loving relationship. Using the language of the market implies that children’s social care is a business. This must be opposed absolutely.

Clause 8 and 9:

We support the amendments which aim to extend the range of family members and friends who can be considered as kinship carers for children, and to ensure that children in care have contact with their siblings and grandparents.

However, we urge that in Amendment 8, 3B) the phrasing of the original Bill be retained: (i) that “the child live with any parent of the child’s or with any other member of, or any friend of, the child’s family”. It is vital that widest possible pool of people whom the child already knows be considered as carers, especially grandparents, before considering adoption by strangers. Cutting children off permanently from their birth families is always a draconian and traumatic measure with lifelong consequences; High Court judges agree it should only ever be used as a last resort.    

The Bill comes at a time when:

  • Adoptions are higher than in any other European country, with 96% of adoptions in England taking place without parental consent.
  • More and more children are being taken into care – the number of “looked after” children in England is the highest it’s been since 1985.  1 in 5 children under five are referred to children’s services; 1 in 19 investigated; the figures are even higher if over 5s are taken into account.
  • In 78% of cases we have been dealing with, the children had been removed or were under threat of being removed after the mother suffered domestic violence.
  • 40% of the mothers who have come to us are women of colour and/or immigrant women, suggesting racism and other discrimination by social services and the courts.

Our Suffer the little children Dossier of 40 cases soon to be published documents the life-long traumatic impact on children and their mothers (invariably their primary carer) of being forcibly separated, whether through adoption, being taken into care or given to violent fathers. We are calling for a change in priorities so that financial and other resources are put into enabling children to stay with loving parents and grandparents. As distinguished campaigning journalist Richard Wexler from the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform in the US, warned: “There is no understanding of the harm of removal.  For a young child, it can be an experience akin to kidnapping.” 

On 7 June, 100 people crowded into a public meeting in the Commons to hear mothers, kinship carers, academics and campaigners describe the devastation caused to children and their families by unwarranted forced separation. They were extremely concerned about this Bill and vowed to campaign against it.

We urge you to take evidence from those most affected by this legislation, beginning with mothers and families facing the trauma of forced adoption or of children being taken into care needlessly.

Please let us know if you are available to meet.

Yours sincerely,

Anne Neale                                      Kim Sparrow
Legal Action for Women               Single Mothers’ Self-Defence

Here are real life stories:

Mothers and grandmothers speak out against forced adoptions

Danielle

“My grand-daughter was forcibly adopted from her loving and supportive, vulnerable and poor family in the name of child protection, using the spurious charge of her being ‘at risk of significant harm‘.

“They wanted my grand-daughter adopted at birth and took her mum to court just days after giving birth by caesarean.  The judge didn’t agree and said she could go to a Mother & Baby unit.  But it was a horrible place where she was totally isolated: she was not allowed to see her family or me or my son; she wasn’t allowed to go out with the baby, and everything she did was monitored, but even so the baby was doing fine and developing normally and was a happy contented child.

“She suffered serious trauma by being removed at five months from her birth mother to whom she was securely attached and in whose care she was thriving.  Amazingly she managed to form a secure attachment to the foster mother who asked to be her special guardian and to bring her up maintaining direct contact with her birth family.

“But if the foster mum had adopted she would have had to stop fostering for a year which she couldn’t afford and social services wouldn’t put out any money to help her.  So once again my grand-daughter suffered enormous trauma by being removed at 18 months and given to adoptive parents.  She was not protected and instead suffered emotional harm at the hands of the social services.

“Over 90% of children forcibly adopted come from families that are below the poverty line who are then placed in middle class families despite counter arguments that child abuse and neglect is not a class issue.  But taking our children is a form of social cleansing.

“Both my son and the baby’s mum have gone on to have other children who they are caring for successfully, after social services could find no reason to intervene.   But it’s my grand-daughter who is growing up not knowing what a loving and caring family she was taken from – we are not allowed any contact with her.”

Suzanne

“I have two young children.  Their father was violent, prone to drinking and angry outbursts.  Once when he was attempting to rape me, I stabbed him with a pen in self defence.  Another time I ran out of the house to call 999 and left the children inside.   The final straw came when he raped me and I reported it to the police.  I took out a non-molestation order which he contested.  The family court directed me to remain on good terms with the father in relation to his contact with the children, despite the seriousness of the situation.  I tried to do as the court directed.

“During the rape investigation, I took the children abroad to keep them safe but returned with them after social services pursued me via the high court.  The children were then taken into care, and I was allowed supervised visits observed by social services.   The rape investigation continued during this time and social services began proceedings to take the children away permanently, claiming that I was aggressive (because I had stabbed him with a pen), that I shouldn’t have left the children in the house with him while I called the police and that I was “emotionally unstable” (at the same time as I was going through a rape investigation and trial).  I was accused of being “un co-operative” when I disagreed with social work reports.

“My ex-partner was tried and convicted of rape and serious sexual assault in 2013 and sentenced to five years.   My parents trained to be the children’s long-term foster carers and passed with flying colours, but a family court judge ruled in favour of adoption by strangers because the grandparents ‘wouldn’t be strong enough to cope with [my] demands’. The grounds for removing the children from me permanently included: “failing to protect” my children from witnessing violence;  anger issues, mostly based on my behaviour as a teenager many years before, and a personality disorder (which had been misdiagnosed 17 years previously, again, when I was a teenager); lies by social workers observing my visits.

“I was recently diagnosed on the autistic spectrum, but I couldn’t find a lawyer to put this to the family court as new evidence, along with evidence about how much my circumstances have changed as a result of being free from the violent relationship.  I feel that being on the autistic spectrum has left me at a significant disadvantage in navigating my way through social services and the family court system where my character and capabilities were completely misjudged and misunderstood.  As a result, two much loved children are growing up with no contact with their mother or their grandparents, who had always been a big part of their lives.”

Emily

“I am a Black British woman of African descent.  When I got pregnant, social services already knew about me because I had been a victim of rape when I was younger.  I was diagnosed as having learning difficulties but I was given no support; I had no help from my family and the rapist was not pursued.   The day after the baby was born, social services applied for a Care Order claiming the ‘child [was] not receiving care that would be reasonably expected from a parent’, citing my ‘unidentified mental health‘ and ‘minor learning difficulties’.

“I had three independent reports contradicting the diagnosis of ‘global learning difficulties’ which social services were using to put my baby up for adoption.  The woman judge dismissed these and all the evidence I had showing I had successfully finished two parenting courses and was about to attend another two, including one on child protection awareness.  I showed I was really determined to do everything social services asked me to do, but they had already decided that I was an “unfit” mother even though I never had the chance of looking after my baby on my own.

“I eventually contacted Black Women’s Rape Action Project and they found me a new solicitor.  But social services had built an overwhelming case against me with hostile psychiatric reports and the child’s Guardian was also against me.  The judge said I had ‘poor parenting skills,’ which I would not be able to overcome so my baby should be adopted.  I was allowed an appeal, but it was unsuccessful.  I have never had the opportunity of looking after my baby and I am not allowed any contact with her.

“All this has made me severely depressed and I can’t carry on fighting.  I lost my flat and now live with my family.”

Legal Action for Women
LAW@allwomencount.net
http://legalactionforwomen.net

Please note also

  • Official Reports and
  • Official Statistics that I put together in support of our efforts on behalf of 1,000 children a month who are being deprived of their parents and grandparents.

And take note of another Bill ‘in motion’:

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About Sabine Kurjo McNeill

I'm a mathematician, software designer, system analyst, event organiser, independent web publisher and online promoter of positivity.
This entry was posted in Abolition of Forced Adoption, Legislation, Protest. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to #ForcedAdoption Children and Social Work Bill at Committee Stage in House of Lords

  1. Reblogged this on Musings of a Penpusher and commented:
    Just when we thought things might be getting better, along came the bogey man and poured a can of worms into the proceedings.

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