Friday, 25 November 2011

Won't somebody think of the children....?

I wonder if the BAAF think this family should be outlawed? 

Adoption is one of the few areas in British law in which it is entirely legal to make discriminatory decisions based on race. THE BAAF (British Association for Adoption and Fostering) website puts it thus: “We find children do best in a family that reflects their ethnic identity as closely as possible.” Which sounds reasonable, but it also means that if nobody of your particular ethnic mix shows up, you will be languishing in a care home for a very long time. Where's Angelina when you need her? 

Last month David Cameron was loudly criticising this system: “How can we have let this happen? We’ve got people flying all over the world to adopt babies, while the care system at home agonises about placing black children with white families.... ith the right values and the right effort, let’s end this scandal and help these, the most vulnerable children of all.”

Unfortunately his noble sentiments appear to have gone AWOL, as the strict criteria remains in place. Matt Dunkley (president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services) told Radio 4 “If you can make a match within a child's own race, that generally leads to better outcomes.” Children's Minister Mr Loughton countered “Although having an ethnic match may be desirable, it is a bonus and not a deal breaker.”

Trying to adopt a child in the UK sounds like a nightmare of Orwellian-style red tape and hoop jumping  – no wonder many people are instead paying to adopt from abroad. This turns you into a multi-cultural family, allowing you to adopt a non-white child in the UK  – yay! Oh, but only if they are of the exact same ethnicity of your first child. (Never mind that you could quite easily produce biological children with a variety of ethnic backgrounds, if you so wished.) It does seem like a complicated approach to what should be a simple mission  – finding the best possible family for each child. Even if this means placing them with *gasp* a smoker. I know it's not ideal but surely we should be living by the maxim “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”. (Don't tell me Alec Baldwin films never teach you anything.) 

Of course, if you have lots of money, you may find 
some of these problems just fall by the wayside.

In 2000, Tony Blair did his best to sort out kids in care by setting adoption targets of 50%, with large cash incentives for the councils. Unfortunately social workers are easily confused; they attempted to meet the targets not by systematically emptying out care homes of children that were already “in the system” but by finding babies they could remove from their biological families instead. By 2007, 900 babies were being taken every year. (I know it sounds insane, but it's true.) Now, we can probably assume that at least some of these were from parents who had previously proven themselves to be unfit, but a frightening number appear to be people who were just easy targets. At the time, Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming said “Social workers are seizing very young children on the flimsiest of excuses and giving them to other families.... This smacks of social engineering on a grand scale. The offer of monetary rewards for meeting the targets has created a frenzy among social workers.” Scary stuff.

One famous case was that of Mark and Nicky Webster, whose three children were forcibly removed because of one of them suffered unexplained leg fractures – which were later thought to be due to a Vitamin D Deficiency. By the time this had been discovered, the children had been adopted, never to be seen again by their biological parents. Many more stories of this kind will never be heard; the irreversible decisions made in family courts are veiled in utmost secrecy. 

Obviously, this Twilight Zone of a social system must be changed. Luckily for children everywhere and those prospective parents who are over 35, white, or 10lb overweight, the backlash has begun. Adoption with Humanity has a mission “to actively push for policies that place children at the heart of a more humane system, with a new ethos that views adoption as equally valid and equally valued as a means of finding a family for children in care”. If you're in agreement with them, there is a petition on their website. I’d hate to sound like a Daily Mail columnist here (although they are entertaining) but LET’S STOP THE MADNESS NOW!

No comments:

Post a Comment