“FORCED. ADOPTION?? Is that a real thing?” I asked incredulously when I first heard the term. I had just begun my reasearch into the Child Protection System and Family Court. With each day that passed, I was learning new things. Things which I wouldn’t have EVER believed could be going on in 21st century Britain. A world leading democracy, a leader in human rights and freedom of speech.
I certainly hadn’t ever expected to hear the words “Forced” followed by the word “Adoption”. It immediately brought to mind horrific images of the Victorian workhouses and the cruel separation of poverty stricken families , or the Magdelene Laundries of the 20th century, where young umarried mothers were sent to prevent shame being brought the family.
“Yup – it’s real, even though we are in the 21st century it’s real” I was told.
“Unbelievable” was all I could manage to utter!
“So, please, explain this to me, how does this happen?” I eventually said.
“Simply put, Forced Adoption is where The Child Protection System (Social Services, The Family Court and CAFCASS) are legally able to remove newborn babies, toddlers and children up to the age of 7 and have them adopted without the consent of their birth parents. The UK are the only country to in Europe to maintain such a draconian practice.
“There are Government set annual targets to meet. It was Tony Blair’s New Labour government who are responsible for increasing prevalence of Forced Adoption?” Blimey, I realised I must be making myself sound stupid as I was repeating what was being said to me!
“Uh Huh and worse still, adoption is sometimes, in these times of Austerity and Local Authority budget cuts, financially motivated. With their annual Central Government budgets being slashed year on year, it costs less to implement care proceedings than offer families their time, and energy and pay for education ad other help through early intervention support services. Additionally, it has become increasingly difficult for social workers to find, assess and approve new adoptive parents as they are short staffed and don’t have the resources to recruit potential adoptive parents. This leads to them relying on private sector agencies, where adoption is a for-profit, big money business.
Furthermore, the LA’s are also financially motivated. When an LA use external Adoption Agencies to successfully place a child or children in an adoptive family, the Government reimburses them”.
These are statements I’ve read on numerous occasions. On blogs, the websites of action groups and the many Facebook groups dedicated to ending forced adoption and the general level of corruption that exists in the UK’s child protection agencies and The Family Court.
In order to fulfill the need for newborn babies, required by couples that can’t have children of their own, Social Workers are targeting expectant mothers. These pregnant ladies are being assessed during pregnancy and using the crystal ball method of foreseeing the future, deemed to be incapable of parenting their unborn child. The court reviews the flimsy evidence the social workers have presented and make the judgement based on the parents or just mother, being unable to parent their child as they are deemed to be unable to parent and this leave their children at ‘future risk of serious harm’.
Cut to the maternity ward. A mother labours for hours and then, both mother and child being exhausted, they rest, snuggling together and building bonds.
Yet within a few hours of her child being born, Social Services storm the maternity ward waving court orders or Section 20’s. They take the baby from mother’s arms and soon have her/him adopted!
I have been researching Forced Adoptions and have learnt that “They are targeting educated mothers who don’t pose any kind of risk”. A few years ago, before I had any serious involvement with Social Services, I would have taken these claims with a pinch of salt.
However, as I dig deeper, research further and speak to more and more people across the UK and further afield. I learn that nothing is impossible in the dark realms of Child Protection. I believe it to be true, that during the 9 months of a woman’s pregnancy, Social Services plan carefully, crafting reasons, using stock phrases and hearsay evidence to make the parents situation meet the “Threshold”.
The “Threshold” is an ambiguous term which appears in The Children’s Act 1989, the legislation that governs the child protection system across the UK. The “Threshold” is used as yard stick against which the tnts level of care is measured. It is often described as “Threshold Criteria”, which would suggest a number of criteria or a list of attributes that cover good parenting. A breach of the threshold is used to justify the initiation of Care Proceedings.
I recently heard the story of a pregnant woman who was being brought to a Child Protection Conference, over a clerical error. During her first appointment with the midwives, early in her pregnancy, she was asked the standard questions. These include questions about your medical history, previous pregnancies and lifestyle. One of these questions is “Do you use any illicit substances?”. The woman truthfully told the midwife ‘no’ she doesn’t and hasn’t ever used drugs. However, the midwife accidentally ticked the box “IV drug user” which automatically triggered a referral to Social Services.
One would assume, that once such a mistake was identified, all parties involved would have acknowledge it was an error and that there would be no further action. Think again!! In this particular case, a pregnant woman of 31, an educated, qualified accountant who has never taken drugs or been involved with the police or social Services was treated as though she genuinely posed a “significant risk of harm” to her unborn child.
It was just one tick placed accidentally in the wrong box, a mistake which the midwife who made it has owned up to immediately that led to an unimaginable chain of events. Instead of enjoying the nine months of pregnancy, taking the time to mentally adjust to the impending change in her life and preparing her nest. This mother was hounded by Social Services, investigated, questioned, dragged into unnecessary meetings and had her good name dragged through the mud. The constant stress and worry, on top of the discomforts that are part and parcel of pregnancy, led to her having to give up work earlier than planned, due to a decline in her mental and physical health.
The social worker really went to town in her attempts to make this mother appear incompetent and justify removing her child at birth. In her reports she claimed that the woman spent £300 to £400 a day on crack cocaine and heroin. That she has confessed to injecting up to £400 a day in heroin alone! Such a preposterous lie, anyone who injected £400 of heroin a day would most certainly be dead! But that wasn’t all. The report also claimed that she was a former sex-worker – yet were unable to provide any solid proof. Upon doing a little digging, it appears that the claims of sex-work were garnered from the fact that the woman had previously been sexually abused and the case had been to court, the perpetrator prosecuted, convicted and served a custodial sentence. The court proceedings had been recorded and that recording included the woman testifying against her abuser – a horrifying ordeal during which she had to recall in detail the sexual abuse she had suffered. This is classed as sex-work – really?!?!?
Despite having these ludicrous accusations made against her, the lady was very reasonable, she went along with Social Services, did as they requested and was sure that this nonsense would eventually be seen for what it was…nonsense. She was referred to the local Drugs and Alcohol service, against her wishes. If she attended an appointment at the Drugs and Alcohol service, a file would be opened and it would be permanently placed on her medial records. Which would follow her around for life. As she had done nothing wrong she refused to engage. However, in order to prove that she wasn’t using drugs, she offered to organise and pay for an independent drugs test,with a reputable drugs testing laboratory. But this was rejected as a solution by the social worker, who told her that independent testing wasn’t reliable enough.
Eventually, the Social Worker visited the lady and advised her that she had completed her investigations and was organising a Child Protection Conference to take place in a few weeks time, as serious concerns about the ‘level of risk’ to her newborn remained.
Understandably, the woman was distraught, she had done her research and knew the steps involved in Child Protection and Care Proceedings. She knew that if after discussion at a CPC, the vote went in favour of the Social Worker, as per usual, a PLO meeting would ensue. After which, she would be taken to Family Court, where the solicitor or barrister representing the Local Authority would convince the Lay Bench* to issue a Court Order for her baby to be removed at birth.
Since speaking to this lady and hearing her story, I have been thinking about her situation quite a lot and hoping that someone involved in this case would eventually see sense.
I learnt last week, that the CPC was cancelled upon instruction of the Chair of the CPC, who has some sense about her and could clearly see that there was no case of ‘harm to an unborn child’. Not only did she call off the CPC, she formally chastised the Social Worker who had instigated the CPC and gave her until the middle of the month to make a legitimate case or leave the woman alone. She also insisted that the lady be drug tested. The lady once again offered to pay for an independent drug test, but was advised by the Chair to attend the local drug and alcohol service as they are given more weight and deemed to be more trustworthy by the Local Authority and the Family Court.
The lady did as instructed and today attended the local drug and alcohol service for testing. The worker who carried out the testing was flabbergasted by the whole situation, so much so that she got on the phone to the social worker and lambasted her for putting this woman through so much unnecessary stress and suffering. She stated that is was clear as day that this woman was not and had never been a drug addict or a even a drug user. Plus she was angry that a heavily pregnant woman had been sent to a place which could be dangerous to her health and well-being.
Thankfully, this investigation was brought to the attention of someone with some common sense and the case is to be dropped. The woman in question can now enjoy the last few weeks of her pregnancy and look forward to welcoming her child into the world, without the fear of social services wrecking her happiness.