‘Unjust Adoption Rise’

Read this article the other day on the BBC website. It includes:‘Critics of “forced adoptions” say social workers are rushing cases to hit the government’s adoption targets.’ [who are the critics?]

‘Campaigners, including Justice for Families, also claim the secrecy of the family courts is stopping parents properly challenging adoptions.’ [Justice for Famillies and who else?]

‘The investigation by BBC Radio 4’s Face the Facts spoke to four parents who claim their children have been removed from them unjustly.’ [Four? Push the boat out why don’t you. And of course we have no idea at all why the parent quoted in the article had her baby removed at birth – perhaps it was wrong, perhaps it was a tough but right decision. To simply report the removal of a baby at birth is emotive but not instructive.]

And as for the statistics, a simple rise in the number of adoptions doesn’t prove that things are going wrong. Government policy is to increase the proprtion of children in care being adopted so that children who can’t go back to their parents don’t get bounced around children’s homes and foster placements their whole childhood.

As far as I can tell this article is probably pretty much based on assertions made by John Hemming MP (of Justice For Families), and his writing is couched in pretty trenchant terms, so its hard to work out what is fact and what is hyperbole.

Its a shame, because there may well be some truth to these stories, and certainly if there is they ought to be properly investigated and dealt with, but I’m not sure this article takes us much further. I’m sure there are some miscarriages of justice, but its difficult to get to the bottom of what really goes on or the scale of the problem and these reports don’t help.

Unfortunately I didn’t get to hear the Face the Facts programme which was aired this weekend, so I can’t tell you if this was more specific in its source material. Did anyone else see it?

3 thoughts on “‘Unjust Adoption Rise’

  1. Jonathan Gornall

    The Face the Facts episode (Friday, Aug 25) can be heard again at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/facethefacts/ … ignore the programme description, which is wrong (about the care of older people) and fast-forward 2m 30s. The programme presents no evidence that the children in question had been taken “unjustly”. In addition to the onesided stories of the parents, it relies upon allegations made by an anonymous ex-social worker and claims made by a woman from AIMS (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services … http://www.aims.org.uk), Sarah Harman, whose activities with regard to the family courts are well known (see this BMJ article … http://jonathangornall.squarespace.com/sarah-harman/) and John Hemming, the MP whose extreme accusations about social services and adoption are, unsurprisingly, being aired widely in the media. For more on Hemming see http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/jonathan_gornall/2007/08/hemmings_way.html

  2. Thanks for that. I’ll look it up when I have a mo.

    In fact I had already read your article on John Hemming and found it compelling.

  3. Just came across your blog on Delia Venables website. Hence the late comment.

    The first that I heard of this programme was on the news on Terry Wogan when it was first announced that the BBC would be demonstrating major increases in injustice in the Family Justice System. Then in the main part of the news it was revealed that the programme would be revealing a doubling in the number of people in the number of people who SAY they have been treated unjustly by the system. Hmm. Bit of a difference there.

    I am a Local Authority Solicitor and there was much talk with guardians, social workers and parents solicitors about the programme later that day. No one liked it or agreed with it. I hadn’t heard it but read the transcript later that day and then had a few drinks and swore about how they always manage to find complete numptys to defend the position of Local Authorities and the courts.

    I also despair about reporters. Have none of them ever considered that maybe, just maybe, the people talking about how unjustly they have been treated might not be telling the truth?

    We all got onto the old chestnut about the secretive family justice system. If ever something was likely to fulfil the law of unintended consequences for parents campaigners like Sarah Harman this is it. Think folks. If I as a Local Authority solicitor know there is a reporter in the court I can go to parents solicitor/barrister and give them the choice of agreeing to our proposals (and get nice anodyne speech to magistrates about need to move forward for benefit of children, co-operation of parents etc etc) or object and get a long speech detailing all the things that social workers are wrong with them (to be reported in technicolour detail by grateful reporter in local paper for all neighbours to read). Tough choice eh? As a very experienced solicitor for children said it will be about 2 weeks from the opening of the family courts to reporters to the first case of parents being burnt out of their home by enraged neighbours who have just found out what has been going on.

    In my own area we know the details behind one of the persons who is currently parading before the media as being unjustly treated by social services and having had child “forcibly adopted” and those details are very different from what is being reported.

    Okay this was a rant. Sorry.

    PS. Also read Jonathan Gornall article on John Hemming (and the subsequent comments). Well worth reading.

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