| Forced Adoption in the UK: Child Protection or ‘Punishment Without a Crime’?

Forced Adoption in the UK: Child Protection or ‘Punishment Without a Crime’? ~ , International Business Times.

When a couple brought their newborn son to a hospital with a fractured arm, Coventry social services were called in on suspicion that the child might have been injured by his parents.

The mother was arrested, handcuffed and detained for nine hours, fearing her child might be taken away. Although not charged with any offence, the couple remain on police bail, preventing them leaving the country.

The child was taken by his Irish grandmother to Ireland, where is he supported by a family. Social services are still attempting to get an order through the courts for the grandmother to return to England.

This is just one case study of “forced adoption” – a term used by critics of the practice of removing children permanently from their parents and their subsequent adoption.

Aside from Croatia, Britain is the only EU member state that practices forced adoption and for some, it is a secretive system that allows social workers to separate children from loving families without proper justification and with little concern for their interests.

But for others, adoption is only carried out when it is in the child’s best interests to do so – and criticism of the social care system is merely a consequence of the incomprehensibly difficult task of removing children from their parents.

There are 92,000 “looked after” children in the UK – meaning cared for by the state – according to NSPCC. More than half of these children in England and Wales became looked after because of abuse or neglect between 2012 and 2013 but critics say they have had their sons and daughters taken away for less.

Ian Josephs, who runs the Forced Adoption website, has helped hundreds of families in this situation.

Speaking to IBTimes UK, he explained lots of parents feel they are punished without having committed a crime.

“No baby or child should be removed from parents and put into care unless one of the parents has committed, or at least been charged with a crime against children,” he said.

But the argument for forcible adoptions is that if left too late, the child may be at risk or serious harm or even suffer death.

However, another problem lies in determining if and proving that, particularly in cases of emotional abuse, there is sufficient evidence to take the child away.

Critics state there are a number of procedural issues surrounding forced adoption. Some argue that due to increased funding for social services units – that effectively place a greater number of children with adopted families – there are financial incentives for local authorities to secure adoptions.

Moreover, some argue there is a demonisation of parent’s embroiled in care proceedings. More than 90% of families where children are forcibly adopted live below the poverty line – despite counterarguments that child abuse and neglect are not class issues.

Around 45% of the parents have mental health problems, which often go undiagnosed, unassessed or untreated, before proceedings take place.

Once a child is placed for adoption, neither the parents nor child have any recourse open to them to reverse the process – even when evidence comes to light that shows that the reasons for the adoption were flawed.

Currently, families subjected to forced adoption may also be prohibited by court order from publicly discussing their case and attempting to contact their children.

“Most parents who contact me say they have done nothing wrong and if they speak the truth, they shouldn’t be punished by the state by having their children confiscated – nor should they receive gagging orders to stop them complaining publicly and breaching their freedom of speech,” said Josephs.

Speaking at a conference for the charity Children Screaming to be Heard, Josephs stated that when children are taken into care, gagging orders isolate children from family and friends.

“Even if parents have done committed a crime, the children haven’t – we shouldn’t treat them like them have,” he added.

Introduced in April, the Children and Families Act 2014 seeks to reshape the adoption system – in particular, to get children placed with adoptive families more quickly.

But while adopting is necessary for children in danger, there are a number of solutions that don’t punish the families of children who are not.

Such solutions include pre-proceedings intensive support, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and specialist family support services.

Rather than bonuses for placing children in care, they could be used to support families remaining together.


child shadow

Critics say forced adoption without criminal activity is “punishment without a crime” Getty


| UK family law shambles: Too many children are forcibly removed from their mothers!

Too many children are forcibly removed from their mothers ~ theguardian.com.

Helping unstable mothers raise the babies they love is surely sometimes a better option than the devastation of removal.

The emergence of court records revealing that 7,143 mothers have had 22,790 children removed in the last seven years is profoundly disturbing. It is traumatic enough for both mother and baby when this happens once – but horrifying to discover that the pattern is so often repeating itself.

The BBC has discovered that it is not uncommon for two, three or four children to be removed from the same mother, and sometimes many more. Why is it happening and what can be done to break this miserable and destructive cycle?

Mother and baby

‘Forcible removal of their children leaves mothers profoundly bereft: the only way to climb out of that abyss is to get pregnant again.’ Photograph: Bruce Ayres/Getty

Judges in the family court, though less visible than social workers, can face the same “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” criticism in these cases. The consequences of removing or not removing can rarely be predicted with scientific certainty. What is certain though is that many cases involve drugs, alcohol and/or mental health problems. Often the mothers have been raised in the same unstable and sometimes abusive environments that their babies are being born into. While there are cases of mothers who were brought up in chaotic environments who go on to be excellent parents, for many, a lousy upbringing increases the odds of repeating a destructive cycle.

It is also certain that many of the mothers who have their children removed love their offspring dearly, even if they are unable to provide adequate care for them. Forcible removal of their children leaves them profoundly bereft: the only way to climb out of that abyss is to get pregnant again.

Having a child forcibly removed can intensify the downward spiral in search of the oblivion that drink and drugs can momentarily provide. But conversely, forced removal can also be the only trigger that is effective in helping a mother to clamber out of the black hole. In her memoir of her time in prostitution, addicted to class A drugs – which led to the removal of her beloved children – Rhea Coombs said that the only factor strong enough to push her away from drugs and sex work was the incentive of being reunited with her children. She did in fact leave sex work and get clean: and she did get her kids back.

For mothers who have the odds stacked against them it takes time to turn their lives around, but time is the one thing that is often in short supply. If a child’s life is at risk, professionals cannot afford to adopt a wait-and-see approach. But the speed with which children, often those who have just emerged from the womb, are removed from their mothers, means that they only have the slenderest of windows to break a destructive cycle and give their children a good and loving start.

The US’s controversial Project Prevention takes the view that there is no point in giving mothers who have drug and alcohol problems a chance, because it’s a foregone conclusion that they will be rubbish parents. In a brisk transaction, the project pays drug and alcohol-using women to get sterilised or use long-term contraception so that they avoid bringing children into the world at all. To date they have paid more than 4,000 women in 50 US states to stop procreating. Critics accuse founder Barbara Harris of social engineering and eugenics.

In the UK, two initiatives give mothers rather more credit than Project Prevention for their ability to turn their lives around. The Strengthening Families Project, funded by Salford council, is run by a community midwife and a specialist social worker. They warn the women of the risks to themselves and their babies of abusing drugs and alcohol but, very importantly, also provide positive support and instruction, something that may be alien to them. The family drug and alcohol court has been running since 2008 and has had encouraging results – it has helped 35% of mothers to reunite with their children, compared with 19% in the ordinary family courts.

While programmes offering guidance and support won’t prevent all child removals, having many more of them on offer to troubled mothers could go a long way towards helping them successfully raise the babies they love. And for many of these women, who have not been dealt the best cards in life, it may be the first time they have had anyone encouraging them, believing in them and nurturing their confidence – giving them the support they need to become successful, loving mothers.


| UK Family Law farce: Mothers jailed for waving to children in street!

The mothers jailed after waving to their children in the street ~ , The Telegraph.

It’s a mystery why judges and social workers think they have the legal authority to act in such an inhuman way.

Many will have been amazed by the story of Kathleen Danby, the 72-year-old grandmother given a three-month prison sentence after police produced CCTV footage showing her and her 18-year-old granddaughter running to embrace in a pub car park. The granny, who lives in Orkney, had travelled down to Derby to meet her beloved young relation in defiance of a 2007 court order, which has allowed them only to have “supervised contact” by telephone once a month.

The girl, said to have a mental age of nine, is so unhappy in “care” that, according to Mrs Danby, she has run away 175 times. She was forbidden to see her father after he was jailed for roughly restraining her from “running into a busy road when she was having a temper tantrum”. He has twice since been in prison, once for waving at his daughter when he saw her in a passing taxi on her way to school.

Martin Cardinal, the Court of Protection judge who sentenced Mrs Danby, said: “I am sure this grandmother needs restraint.” It was Judge Cardinal who made news last year when it was revealed that he had secretly jailed Wanda Maddocks – for removing her 80-year-old father from a care home where he had been placed by social workers, and where he was being so ill-treated that she feared for his life.

Of all the disturbing features of our “care” system, one of the most chilling is the draconian restrictions it imposes on contact between children and loving parents or grandparents who have not harmed them in any way. If they are allowed to meet at all, it is usually in a grim council “contact centre”, where every word is noted by a “contact supervisor”, watching for any breach of the rules, which can stop the “contact” dead.

I have seen several of the contracts that family members must sign before being allowed these contact sessions. One is 23 clauses long. These severely limit or forbid any show of affection by either side. Conversation must be limited only to “everyday matters”, such as how the children are doing at school.

Virtually nothing the bewildered children want to discuss is allowed. Totally prohibited is any reference to why they are in “care”, what is to happen to them, or how they are being treated (in one case, where a distressed 11-year-old girl told her parents that she was being sexually abused by a member of the foster carer’s family, her parents never saw her again).

No reference can be made to the courts, social workers or any other “professional” involved in the case. Particularly forbidden is any “whispering”. Where foreign children are in care, they and their parents are forbidden to use the language they speak at home. When a Lithuanian grandfather recently flew to London to see his grandson, he was merely allowed one five-minute video exchange on Skype, using the only three words of English he knew: “I love you”.

Where no contact is allowed at all, the punishments for breaches can be astonishingly severe. I know of half a dozen cases where mothers were jailed simply for waving at their children when seeing them by chance in the street.

I recently reported on a mother, still in prison, after her desperately unhappy 13-year-old daughter had run away from a care home where she was being physically ill-treated. The mother had rung the police, but was careful to have no direct contact with her daughter, until the police begged her to go and calm the girl down in her brother’s house, where she was screaming and sobbing. For this, the social workers persuaded a judge to jail her for six months.

The real mystery is why the courts and social workers think they have the legal authority to act in this utterly inhuman way. If any lawyer can tell me precisely which law allows them thus to trample on one of the deepest and most natural of human instincts, I would be very grateful.

Alison Saunders said a briefing at the start of the case could overcome preconceived ideas about the crime

Virtually nothing the children want to discuss is allowed, including why they are in “care”, what is to happen to them, or how they are being treated Photo: GEOFF PUGH

| Why the explosion in UK child-snatching is big business!

Why the explosion in child-snatching is big business ~ , The Telegraph.

When fostering excites venture capitalists, the number of children taken into care rises

Sheringham High Street, Norfolk

The children’s department of Norfolk council received the most damning report possible from Ofsted Photo: ALAMY 

A Norfolk reader sends me photographs of an advertisement placed on the back of local buses by Norfolk and Suffolk county councils. “New challenge,” it reads. “Have you thought of fostering? If so you can earn £590 a week.”

Two things are interesting about this, one general, one specific. For a start, it shows what mind-boggling sums are now available to councils whose social workers take children into care. I have quoted before advertisements offering foster carers £400 a week for each child. But £590 a week means that a foster home looking after three children taken from their parents, which is not uncommon, can now earn almost £100,000 a year. In addition are the lavish fees charged by fostering agencies to make the arrangements, almost invariably run by ex-social workers.

Most people have no idea what a big business fostering has become. When one such firm, National Fostering Agency, representing 175 local authorities after being launched by two ex-social workers in 1995, was placed on the market by Rothschilds in 2012, it was sold by its “venture capital” owners Sovereign to a “private equity” firm, Graphite Capital, for a staggering £130 million.

The more specific point, however, is that, of all the councils that feature in my files as seizing children from their parents for what seem like questionable reasons, Norfolk and Suffolk are high on the list. In one of the most controversial cases I have reported, it was Norfolk’s social workers who were eventually forced to hand back a baby to its parents, after they had twice travelled to France to take the child into foster care in England. Having been thwarted in their plans, when a judge ruled that they had no legal right to do so, they seized several more children from different members of the same family who, to justify their removal, now face many charges of criminal abuse.

Yet last year the children’s department of this same council, Norfolk, received the most damning report possible from Ofsted, failing it as “inadequate” (the lowest rating) on every one of the five counts on which social workers are judged, from “quality of provision” to “leadership and management”.

Our children’s minister, Edward Timpson, may last week have launched yet another initiative to speed up the rate at which children are adopted. But even he only mentions 6,000 children waiting for adoption, compared with the record 68,000 currently in care in England and Wales alone.

It is hardly surprising, when fostering has excited the interest of venture capitalists as one of the most lucrative industries in the country, that the number of children social workers take from their parents into care has, in the past five years, well over doubled, to 28,000 a year.

What then happens to too many of these children in “care” is just another part of this very disturbing picture.

| UK Family Law Fiasco: Thousands of children in care disappear each year!

Thousands of children in care disappear each year ~ Social affairs editor and presenter, Channel 4 News.

Children in care went missing on 24,000 separate occasions in two years, Channel 4 News can reveal, including babies and toddlers. Some of society’s most vulnerable tell us why they disappeared.

The figures – drawn together through freedom of information (FoI) requests – show some of the country’s most vulnerable children are disappearing from residential homes and foster placements, sometimes for hours or days, sometimes for months and even years.

In Norfolk a five-year-old boy was missing for nearly two years, while in Essex a baby girl under one was missing for four months.

The data, gathered in a joint investigation with OpenWorld News, shows that from January 2012 to December 2013 there were more than 24,000 incidents where children went missing. The true extent of the problem may even be much bigger, as many local authorities refused to reveal their data.

It is thought the babies who go missing (very much a rarity in terms of the statistics) are taken by parents during care visits. But by far the biggest number of missing episodes identified involved children from 10 to 16: children like Annie.

Annie’s story: ‘All your choices are taken away’

Annie was 13 when she ran away from her foster care placement. Placed in the middle of nowhere, miles away from home, she says she realised that going missing was dangerous but was so desperate, and didn’t feel she had any other choice.

“Because all your choices are taken away from you, you’re not allowed to make any decisions but actually the one thing I can do is physically move myself away so I guess it’s the one last little bit of control I had left,” she told me.

We were trash. We were just tramps. If they were interested, they would have put their foot down a long time ago.Claire

When Annie was eventually found safe and well with a relative, she says all the focus from social services and the police was about taking her back. No one was asking why she had gone missing in the first place.

“It was not about what happened while I was missing,” she said, “was it scary, or actually, what caused you to do something so dangerous. What pushed you to that point?”

Child exploitation

Claire’s story is very different yet depressingly familiar at the same time. She was put into care at her mother’s request. Claire had been groomed by older men from the age of 12, and her mother Vanessa simply felt she couldn’t protect her any more. But once she went into the home, both admit the problem just got worse. Vanessa said: “She was going missing for not just days: it was weeks on end.”

Claire said she would sleep in the home all day, go out to be picked up by the men in the evening and return home the next morning. She says it was common knowledge that she was having sex with many men, who were much older. She said social services and the staff just didn’t care: “We were trash. We were just tramps. If they were interested, they would have put their foot down a long time ago.”

Yet while both Claire and her mother are critical of the authorities, they acknowledge that girls in Claire’s situation can be difficult to help. In recent years, as more has become known about the links between children going missing from care and sexual exploitation, there is a renewed focus on tackling the problem.

Police as ‘taxi service’

Privately the police and those who work in care express their frustration. Often it’s the same children who go missing repeatedly. Do you put the police on full scale alert every time? Or do care home staff exercise their judgement if children go missing to see the same friends or to visit family but always come back? What happens on the one occasion when those children don’t return from being “missing” at the usual time?

Police have also complained in the past about being used as a sort of “taxi service” by care homes who send them out to pick up children who are missing but not thought to be in any danger.

What is being done?

The government is moving on this. It has issued new guidance to care home staff to make sure that any child who has gone missing is interviewed by someone independent to establish why they left and what happened while they were gone. They have also brought in new arrangements for collecting data on this – the accepted view across the board that it is currently something of a mess – and the new Ofsted inspection framework will put much more focus on children who go missing.

It is an acknowledgement of problems which are not new to the care system but at least now seem to be being taken more seriously: that children in care can be profoundly unhappy and very vulnerable, and that running away is a very obvious sign that something is badly wrong.

Dealing with their unhappiness may not always be possible, but keeping them safe should be the least the system can do.

Tune in to Channel 4 News from 7pm on Friday to watch Jackie Long’s report



| Do stay-at-home mothers upset you? You may be a motherist!

Do stay-at-home mothers upset you? You may be a motherist ~



Women who choose to remain at home to look after their children face a torrent of prejudice. Here are four of the worst examples.

Dr Aric Sigman, at a conference convened by Mothers At Home Matter (if you want a clue, as to its agenda, I refer you to the name), warned of the rise of “motherism”; a prejudice against stay-at-home mothers. Sigman is well known for his re-traditionalising intentions, to which end he has been accused of misrepresenting behavioural and neurological evidence, aclaim he has denied. So, he says “motherism” is dangerous because it puts women off being stay-at-home mothers, which is the developmental ideal. I’d reject the second part of the argument, but not the first – there is a prejudice against stay-at-home mothers. There is a presentation of women who look after their own children full time as air-headed, spoilt and dowdy. However, there is also a prejudice against women who look after their children but aren’t dowdy (yummy mummies); women who go back to work after having had children; women who stay out of work but also employ nannies; women who work part-time and look after their children the rest of the time.

I think the only way you could gain approval for your time-management, as a mother, would be to look after your children all the time as well as working full-time but for some socially useful enterprise (ideally voluntary work), while never relying on a man for money, yet never claiming benefits either, but God forbid that you should have a private income. Mothers in society act as whipping boys for almost all other social fissures; oh, the irony of there being no female equivalent for the phrase “whipping boy”, when it is almost always a female. Oh the side-spitting irony. Here are four examples of “motherisms” at work:

1) What they say: “I don’t see why mothers need these enormous buggies”

If you were pushing anyone who couldn’t walk but wasn’t a baby, people would happily put themselves out a bit. The act of pushing a baby, however, confers an aura of smugness about you (“look at you, so in love, with your baby”) that makes it unthinkable to just help you out. There’s an element of sense in this; mothers are in love with their babies, for the most part. And they would see you step into a puddle just to avoid the smallest jolt to their airsprung sleeping chariot. But it’s not the end of the sodding world, is it, mothers temporarily losing their social etiquette while they fall in love with their babies?

2. What they say (at the school gates, whispered): “You never see the mother”

Even if the child is dropped off by the father, there is very little quarter given to the mother who isn’t visible to the child’s social circle, and not much consideration of the possibility that maybe her work starts at 9am precisely so she can get home by 6pm. I personally think this is a Freudian throwback, the resentment of children of the 70s and 80s, who were the first generation having to contend with bloody maternal no-shows at the harvest festival. It’s the only rationale I can think of for why a person would think it was any of their business how a mother organised her time.

3. What they say (going in to a cafe, during the hours of standard economic activity): ‘Look at all these women who don’t work. I wish I could afford not to work’

I personally think the greatest misconception around childcare, shared by a huge proportion of the adult population, the people who’ve never done it, plus people who’ve done it but can’t remember it, is that it is easy. It is by far the most demanding job conceived by society, wringing you out like a blood-drenched bedsheet, each day leaving you physically drained and mentally poleaxed, without even the energy to close your own mouth or hold your head upright, often making an involuntary gargling noise. Some of it’s quite fun. But anyway, that’s an aside. There’s no economic sense to this question; if the women drinking coffee weren’t looking after their children, someone else would have to, which would in most cases cost as much as their wages. So what people are really objecting to is not that mothers can afford not to work, but that they can still afford coffee.

4. What they say: ‘I never have anything to say to these yummy mummies’

Dressed up as a deficiency of the speaker (I never have anything to say) it is actually a charge levelled at the mother, that she has no interests; why? Because, being “yummy”, she is narcissistic and can’t see beyond pilates and Brazilian hot waxing. The true resentment is of her wealth – that her life isn’t one of drudgery and servitude, but spa treatments and interiors. Well, that’s fine – it’s possible to make a good case for objecting to wealth, since so much of it is unjustly come by. But at least object to the people unjustly coming by it. It seems a little tangential to make the wife the object of the opprobrium. All she’s done is have a kid and fancy up her pubic area.


‘If you were pushing anyone who couldn’t walk but wasn’t a baby, people would happily put themselves out a bit.’ Photograph: Rex Features/J.Norden/IBL

    • HumanRightsA

| Please tell me, Mr President, why a US drone assassinated my mother!

Please tell me, Mr President, why a US drone assassinated my mother ~

    • theguardian.com.

      Momina Bibi was a 67-year-old grandmother and midwife from Waziristan. Yet President Obama tells us drones target terrorists

    • The last time I saw my mother, Momina Bibi, was the evening before Eid al-Adha. She was preparing my children’s clothing and showing them how to make sewaiyaan, a traditional sweet made of milk. She always used to say: the joy of Eid is the excitement it brings to the children.

      Last year, she never had that experience. The next day, 24 October 2012, she was dead, killed by a US drone that rained fire down upon her as she tended her garden.

      Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day. The media reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Several reported the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All reported that five militants were killed. Only one person was killed – a 67-year-old grandmother of nine.

      My three children – 13-year-old Zubair, nine-year-old Nabila and five-year-old Asma – were playing nearby when their grandmother was killed. All of them were injured and rushed to hospitals. Were these children the “militants” the news reports spoke of? Or perhaps, it was my brother’s children? They, too, were there. They are aged three, seven, 12, 14, 15 and 17 years old. The eldest four had just returned from a day at school, not long before the missile struck.

      But the United States and its citizens probably do not know this. No one ever asked us who was killed or injured that day. Not the United States or my own government. Nobody has come to investigate nor has anyone been held accountable. Quite simply, nobody seems to care.

      I care, though. And so does my family and my community. We want to understand why a 67-year-old grandmother posed a threat to one of the most powerful countries in the world. We want to understand how nine children, some playing in the field, some just returned from school, could possibly have threatened the safety of those living a continent and an ocean away.

      Most importantly, we want to understand why President Obama, when asked whom drones are killing, says they are killing terrorists. My mother was not a terrorist. My children are not terrorists. Nobody in our family is a terrorist.

      My mother was a midwife, the only midwife in our village. She delivered hundreds of babies in our community. Now families have no one to help them.

      And my father? He is a retired school principal. He spent his life educating children, something that my community needs far more than bombs. Bombs create only hatred in the hearts of people. And that hatred and anger breeds more terrorism. But education – education can help a country prosper.

      I, too, am a teacher. I was teaching in my local primary school on the day my mother was killed. I came home to find not the joys of Eid, but my children in the hospital and a coffin containing only pieces of my mother.

      Our family has not been the same since that drone strike. Our home has turned into hell. The small children scream in the night and cannot sleep. They cry until dawn.

      Several of the children have had to have multiple surgeries. This has cost money we no longer have, since the missiles also killed our livestock. We have been forced to borrow from friends; money we cannot repay. We then use the money to pay a doctor, a doctor who removes from the children’s bodies the metal gifts the US gave them that day.

      Drone strikes are not like other battles where innocent people are accidentally killed. Drone strikes target people before they kill them. The United States decides to kill someone, a person they only know from a video. A person who is not given a chance to say – I am not a terrorist. The US chose to kill my mother.

      Several US congressmen invited me to come to Washington, DC to share my story with members of Congress. I hope by telling my story, America may finally begin to understand the true impact of its drone program and who is on the other end of drone strikes.

      I want Americans to know about my mother. And I hope, maybe, I might get an answer to just one question: why?

      • Editor’s note: Momina Bibi’s age when she died was originally given in the body text and standfirst as 65; this was amended to 67 at 1.30pm (ET) on 25 October

    • Pakistani ribesmen from Waziristan protest against US drone attacks, outside parliament in Islamabad
      Tribesmen from Waziristan protest against US drone attacks, outside Pakistan’s parliament in Islamabad, in 2010. Photograph: T Mughal/EPA
    •  ________________________________________________________________  

    • U.S. Drones: Will I be next? ~ AmnestyInternational, YouTube.

    • On a sunny fall afternoon in October 2012, 68-year-old Mamana Bibi was killed in a drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her. Her grandchildren recounted in painful detail to Amnesty International the moment when Mamana Bibi, who was gathering vegetables in the family fields in Ghundi Kala, North Waziristan was blasted into pieces before their very eyes. Nearly a year later, Mamana Bibi’s family has yet to receive even any acknowledgment from US authorities that she was killed, let alone justice or compensation for her death.

      Amnesty International’s investigations into drone strikes in north western Pakistan have shown that some of these drone strikes could amount to war crimes.

      It is time for the USA to come clean about drone killings in Pakistan: time to investigate those responsible and give Mamana Bibi’s family and others like them justice.

    • ________________________________________________________________________ 

    • DroneEerie1