UK forced adoptions of foreign nationals

(346 Posts)
Hummingbirds Sun 11-Nov-12 21:34:11

This is sick! How come in Slovakia the media has reported on this extensively and they've had demonstrations outside the British embassy yet here in the UK there's been almost total silence? With a few honourable exceptions including journalist Christopher Booker and MP John Hemming.

"... The case that goes to the Appeal Court this week concerns two young boys, Slovakian subjects, whose parents have lived and worked in Britain since their country joined the EU in 2004. Two years ago, when the parents took one of their sons to hospital to enquire about a minor infection, social workers were alerted that it might be the result of a 'non-accidental injury'. The boys were put into the temporary care of the family's American pastor, who describes how social workers then arrived with three police cars to remove the children, screaming as they were torn from their horrified mother and grandmother, to an official foster home.

"Thus began a protracted legal battle, involving many court hearings, four different social workers, seven 'expert' doctors and psychologists, 16 interpreters, 13 different 'contact supervisors' and dozens of lawyers. Initially the local authority seemed happy to contemplate that the children might be returned to live with their grandmother in Slovakia, but the social workers of a council that advertises its enthusiasm for adoption on its website then suggested to the foster carers that they might like to adopt the boys.

"By now the Slovak authorities were involved and could see no reason why the children should not come back to live with their grandmother. But earlier this year a judge found in favour of the council, ruling, to the astonishment of the Slovak authorities, that the boys should be adopted."

"The case has attracted widespread media interest in Slovakia, and the Slovak justice ministry has posted on its website a 'Declaration on adoption of Slovak children in the UK', stating that it has such 'serious concern' over the workings of Britain's 'family protection' system, and the readiness of the British authorities to remove children from their 'biological parents' for 'no sound reason', that its representative on the ECHR plans to challenge the legality of Britain's policy in Strasbourg."

"... the Slovak media claim to know of some 30 other Slovak children taken from their parents."

Read the full Telegraph article

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 08:56:22

There is a lot here. One person raised the case of RP v The UK where I am discussing with her and her brother applying to the grand chamber.

This is a case where a mother was deemed by the system to not have the capacity to instruct a solicitor. Hence the official solicitor came in and conceded the case on her behalf.

It happens to be that her GP and a second expert believe that she does not have a significant learning disability and does have the capacity to instruct a solicitor. However, the case has gone all the way to the ECtHR without this being spotted.

That worries me. I have met her and I don't think she has a significan learning disability and it is quite obvious she does not hit the masterman lister threshold for the appointment of a litigation friend (not a mackenzie friend).

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 18-Nov-12 10:06:44

amillionyears, I apologise if I've posted anything insensitive. I know it's an upsetting subject (as well as our adoption experience, I have family experience of the other side of the coin).

Maybe there was a missing word in my sentence, so it should have been "when the child turns 18 they can receive all the relevant paperwork on their birth family", as I'm sure that there may be some papers relating to birth family that are not relevant to the adoption process.

If I'm still missing something, please tell me.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 10:32:42

Amillionyears, so far as I understand it, there is now an adoption register where the birth parents can leave their contact details. When the child is 18 it is thus his or her choice to contact them. Children have 'life story work' before they are adopted and will have photos of all significant birth family members - if they are willing to provide them. Some refuse. Adoptions are not 'closed' anymore. There is usually some form of post adoption contact but I accept this is most likely to be indirect, via letter once or twice a year.

Xenia obviously lives in a world where children are only taken into care because one member of a wide and loving family has a problem, such as drug addiction. I would like to know how she would organise a family group conference with three generations of child sex abusers and drug addicts. Because sadly, that is the reality for a lot of children in the system. they just don't have a lovely apple cheeked granny or burly uncle to step in and help.

It is a legal obligation upon LA to consider family first.

I agree that emotional abuse can be devastating and have far more harmful and longterm consequences than breaking a child's leg, for eg. People who don't understand this need to read a little more widely about the impact on a child's emotional development of being ignored, belittled etc. And it is rarely the only factor in a case. It usually goes hand in hand with neglect and/or physical abuse.

And what people need to remember about JH is that this is the man who without any evidence, accused a solicitor of fabricating letters in a file and lying to her client mother about why she was represented by the Official Solicitor. JH has spent a great deal of time and energy taking this to the European Court, where his arguments were dismissed.

All that time and energy would be rather better spent dealing with the obvious problems rearing there heads now - the cuts to services that support struggling families, the fact that Gove expresses such troubling views etc, etc.

I whole heartedly agree with the poster on another thread a while back who pondered whether or ot the motivations behind these (largely male) agitators against the 'system' was that they wished to preserve the family as a stamping ground for male abusers. I.e. The state, by wishing to intervene was a threat to the continued power of such men.

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 10:45:40

>JH is that this is the man who without any evidence, accused a solicitor of
>fabricating letters in a file and lying to her client mother about why she was
>represented by the Official Solicitor.
More rubbish from Spero.

This is what I said in parliament here:
www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201212/cmhansrd/cm120321/halltext/120321h0002.htm
In England and Wales, the situation is materially worse, primarily because secrecy of the judicial system has allowed widespread malpractice to develop, as revealed last week by Professor Jane Ireland’s report on psychological expert reports. A good example of that is Rachel Pullen’s case, which is currently grinding through the Strasbourg court. Her daughter was removed and adopted, although there were no hearings at which any of the evidence was challenged, because the psychologist appointed to assess her deemed her too stupid to instruct a solicitor. That was clearly not true, as was determined by a later psychological report. However, it was too late. The psychologist said she was incapable of instructing a solicitor. The Official Solicitor came in as her litigation friend and conceded the case against her on paper and there was no hearing. At her appeal, I made two important points for which the court criticised me.

My first point was that the system allows the local authority to veto the appointment of an expert, thus making the expert financially beholden to the local authority. Professor Ireland’s report revealed that the overwhelming majority of experts in the family courts made most, if not all, their income from writing expert reports. Parents only instruct an expert once, but the local authority does so continually. That creates a complacent environment in which experts frequently write the report the local authority would wish to see—well, those experts who drive Ferraris, Porsches and Formula 1 motor cars do anyway.

My second point referred to a letter from the Official Solicitor to Rosleys solicitors. I expressed the view that the letter was created at a later stage and inserted in the file. It was obvious from the letter that whoever did that did not have access to Rosleys office, as there was no received stamp on it, no headed paper was used for its purported sending out, its address format was unusual and the date of receipt and purported posting out was impossible. The court decided that my mentioning those facts was not providing evidence and was critical of my claim. I stand by my claim, and I believe that what I have just said is indeed evidence of forgery. Real problems remain with the appointment of litigation friends. The Rosleys letter was supposed to explain to someone that the Official Solicitor had been appointed as their litigation friend, which is why the letter was so important.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 10:55:02

It's not rubbish. I could link again to the judgment, but I am on my iPad and technology defeats me. If anyone is interested, do a search on threads her, there is loads of the same stuff over and over the same old tired ground.

The point for me is that JH seems to spend an inordinate amount of time, early in the mornings and late at night on websites such as this, peddling the same conspiracy theories.

As an MP with several families to support I am amazed the he has the time.

I can only conclude he gets more personal enjoyment out of his self proclaimed role of crusader then he would from doing the job he is paid for out of public funds.

I wish it was possible to have a debate about the issues that matter without all this conspiracy hokum constantly being thrown about. Sadly, it would appear that it isn't as this must be now the 999th thread that gets sucked into responding to JH and his amazing swerving arguments.

FamiliesShareGerms Sun 18-Nov-12 10:55:34

"experts who drive formula 1 cars"??!! Really, JohnHemming? Or a slight exaggeration?

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 11:10:29

I was criticised by the court of appeal yes, but my detailed response to the criticism is as above.

Here is a copy of the judgment:
http://www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed2355

I believe only one expert drove a formula 1 car. The point is that a number of them make large sums of money from their activities. There are some very good experts. There are also others whose work is "poor or very poor" - see the Ireland report.

Generally the people who suffer from the low standard work are politically weak and their suffering gets ignored.

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 11:46:17

The experts are certainly an area we need to look into to ensure there is no bias.

Most of all all systems need checks and balances. No one is saying social workers don't on the whole work hard and plenty do good work and we need them but there needs to be more openness and a few changes and additional rights for parents.

We need more of justice being seen to be done rather than just done (and of course we hope injustice is never done).

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 11:57:48

On the Slovak case from today's Sunday Telegraph
I am not sure it is won if it's still to go to the Supreme Court though.

" Slovaks win out over the child-snatchers

All last week I was waiting on tenterhooks for the verdict of the Court of Appeal on as murky a case of child-snatching as I have ever reported. The case had only got up to the Court of Appeal because of the intervention of the Slovakian government, which had expressed its concern at how many Slovak children have been seized by British social workers “for no sound reason”.

This harrowing story began two years ago when two young boys were forcibly removed from their Slovak parents, who had been working for some years in England. The reasons for their removal could quickly have been shown to be wholly groundless, had a crucial piece of photographic evidence been allowed to be questioned in court. Even so, at one point in a story that involved dozens of lawyers, social workers, “experts” and official carers, it seemed that the children were about to be handed back to the care of their grandmother in Slovakia. But the council was determined to hang on to them and persuaded another judge to rule that they should be put out for adoption.

The case has caused a huge stir in Slovakia, with television coverage and demonstrations in the streets. Nine days ago, thanks to the involvement of the Slovak government and John Hemming MP, the appeal court ruled that the boys should be handed to their grandmother. Lord Justice Thorpe told the family “you have won”, and asked for everyone to return last Tuesday to report on the arrangements made for the handover. But still the local authority refused to give up, hiring a QC to work over the weekend on a case for the boys to be kept in England. Again the hearing had to be adjourned.

Finally, on Friday, two judges confirmed that the children should be returned. But a third said that the council should be allowed to spend thousands of pounds more on appealing to the Supreme Court. If and when those children at last arrive in Slovakia, I look forward to reporting this story in full, because it reveals so much of how, behind its self-protective wall of secrecy, our “child protection” system too often actually works. "

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 12:08:58

What is interesting is that Xenia talks of 'additional rights for parents'. And I struggle to recall where JH has ever expressed concern about the rights of the child in any case in which he gets involved.

Parents already have shed loads of rights, in both domestic and international law. These are the rights Gove wants to chip away at, so I remain surprised no comment made about him.

A child is vulnerable and utterly at the mercy of the adults caring for him or her. So on the seesaw of 'protecting the child' and 'protecting the parents's rights' it is surely understandable that the seesaw will tip more towards the child.

And I don't have a problem with that.

I do have a problem with experts like Hibbert who drive flash cars and who do appear to need urgent investigation. Not only because this does have serious potential to cause injustice but also because it allows people like Booker and Hemming to continue peddling their conspiracy theories.

johnhemming Sun 18-Nov-12 13:09:30

I have always taken the view that Article 8 is a better approach than the Children Act.

The problem with English family law for care proceedings is that it approaches the issue from the perspective of whether or not the S31 threshold is exceeded (which is a low threshold in practise). Then after that point the authorities do what they feel like.

This gives almost no value to the birth family and it should not be surprising that a very low proportion of the children leaving care under 5 (care defined as an order of something not S20) return to their parents.

The question, of course, is what is better for the children. Often being in a wealthier family will result in better outcomes. However, we should not really be in a situation where the local authority takes control of children giving them to what the local authority thinks are better parents.

If you listen to adult adoptees, for example, there are quite a few who are unhappy with what the system has done to them as well as there being some such as Michael Gove who are quite pleased.

Xenia Sun 18-Nov-12 14:19:49

Without knowing that detail that is certainly how it has always appeared to me - dead easy to intervene; could just about make a case to any of us to remove our children if they wanted; far too much discretion and things done in too much secrecy. We certainly need a lot more people lobbying and being interested in these issues and a group of so many mothers like mumsnet is a great place to start.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 15:39:23

FamiliesShareGerms, apology accepted.
My concern about your post was about possible factual errors. I am aware that many MNetters lurk, and I didnt want them to think that all their pre adopted details would necessarily be in their files.
I think I am right in saying, that some things are left out of files. I could be wrong.
As far as I know, for those fostered anyway, and especially if they have special needs, they may get a carefully worded shortened version.

Lilka Sun 18-Nov-12 15:48:23

The threshold is anything but low. It's crazy how long some children are left in very poor conditions because there's not quite enough evidence to take them into care, despite living in filth and being neglected. I appreciate the bar has to be high, but it's very sad reading children's information where they had been left for years but not removed till some kind of crisis happened, by which time neglect and abuse has left a permanent and devastating mark on the child

My eldest has seen information from her files btw, as well as having her birth certificate. The information is there for her, not in it's entirety, but a lot of it, and enough to to give a very good picture. Every adoptee has the absolute right to get their birth certificate when they come of age, and they should also be able to see the relevent information from their files pertaining to why they were in care and their placement history etc

I'm not opposed to some level of openness in the court system - we already have some public judgements from the high court, which make for sobering reading, the press have had rights to attend certain hearings for a few years now. I'm open to discussion on what a good level of openness is. However, I do not agree that the details of every single case should be public with all details except names/addresses etc (like the high court judgements are now). This is the childs private life story, it's potentially very distressing and to have the public able to read your entire early life story is a horrible breach of privacy IMO. That's not something most adult adoptee's would want either IMHO

Devora Sun 18-Nov-12 16:40:17

I don't believe the threshold is too low. I think there are way too many children leading lives of unimaginable misery, with little or inadequate intervention.

I do believe that the system gets it wrong sometimes and I do believe that there are miscarriages of injustice. I also believe that there are cases where, if earlier and more appropriate support was provided, families could stay together.

But that doesn't make the threshold too low. Just sometimes wrongly applied.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 17:42:36

The people who believe it is 'easy' to remove children are either those on the conspiracy bandwagon, for whatever reason or those whose knowledge of the system comes from the Daily Mail on line.

There is ample case law to say that the courts must not permit social engineering and as a civilised society we have to tolerate broad standards of parenting, from the brilliant to the barely adequate.

What I see day in day out is parenting that slips way below the 'barely adequate'. And these children are left in these kind of situations for far too long.

What puzzles me is why it accepted that in some professions - say Parliament perhaps - there are many examples of stupidity and criminality from individuals within the system yet no one ( unless David Icke) says the whole system is corrupt and ruled by lizards.

Yet in the family law system, any failing, any individual act of stupidity or less than perfect social work practice is held up as an example of the corrupt system that is engineered to steal babies foe the middle class..

I would be very pleased if fora like these could help those such as Xenia reach a better understanding of the system. Perhaps she could start by spending half an hour on familylawweek.co.uk and browsing the many hundreds of reported cases which set out clearly the kind of circumstances children face and with which courts must deal.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 17:45:42

For example, a case always worth perusing for those with a genuine interest in how the system operates, and how John Hemming choses to conduct himself within this system can be found at
www.familylawweek.co.uk/site.aspx?i=ed2355

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 18:08:04

Spero, I have just tried to read the above link.
Far too difficult for me to read and understand.
Could you summurise please or point in the general direction of the important bits?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 18:15:04

A woman's child was taken into care.
She was represented by the Official Solicitor as she was found not to have the ability to given instructions to her solicitor.
John Hemming appeared in court and said that the woman's solicitor was lying when she claimed to have explained what was happening to the mother.
He alleged that the solicitor had forged letters on the file.
He alleged that the whole family law system was 'corrupt' and 'evil'.

This has always been, for me, the most interesting part of the judgment.

85. Over the period during which this judgment has been reserved, I have, of course, carefully considered Mr Hemming's interventions in this part of the case, and I have re-read the files. Having done so, the feeling of incredulity which I experienced on 4 March has not diminished.

86. In my judgment, SC's files demonstrate overwhelmingly four clear facts. They are; (1) that RP was fully aware that SC had doubts about her ability to provide instructions; (2) that RP was fully aware that the Official Solicitor was being approached to act on her behalf; (3) that she was fully aware that the Official Solicitor had been appointed, and was representing her; and (4) that she was fully aware of his role in the proceedings. In short, RP's assertion that she did not know the Official Solicitor was acting for her is manifestly unsustainable.

87. Mr. Hemming's response on RP's behalf is that this cannot be so because the file has been interfered with. I have, of course, considered that response with care. It is a profoundly serious allegation. However, it is one for which, in my judgment, there is absolutely no evidence. The only query is the mistaken date on the typed attendance note.

88. I find it not only unacceptable but shocking, that a man in Mr Hemming's position should feel able to make so serious an allegation without any evidence to support it. In my judgment, it is irresponsible and an abuse of his position. Unfortunately, as other aspects of this judgment will make clear, it is not the only part of the case in which Mr Hemming has been willing to scatter unfounded allegations of professional impropriety and malpractice without any evidence to support them.

89. I can simply see no reason why the file should not be taken at face value as accurately reflecting what occurred. The file simply reflects and records the actions of a solicitor doing her best to represent a disadvantaged client. I can see absolutely no reason why SC should have made false entries on the file and no reason why she should not have forwarded the Official Solicitor's letter of 11 December and the explanatory leaflet to her client. I ask myself the very simple question: why should she behave in this manifestly unprofessional way? In the crude phrase: what was in it for her? The answer to the second question is, of course, nothing.

90. In my judgment, any suggestion that SC has interfered with the file can be rejected out of hand. There is no reason to take the file at anything other than face value. I therefore have no hesitation in rejecting RP's claims on this part of the case.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 18:18:20

Wall LJ identifies the crucial question, which in a variety of forms, I have been putting to JH and his friends ever since.

WHY would social workers lie and cheat to 'steal' children? What is in it for them?

The answer came back that the government pays money to LA if they meet 'adoption quotas'.

I explain that this is a misunderstanding of what used to happen - LA were encouraged to find adoptive placements for children ALREADY in care as when Tony Blair became PM he was horrified to learn how long many children spent in care and he wanted permanent families found.

So, I explain that the baby snatching quota is a particularly dangerous figment of their imagination and now, would they please explain WHY SW lie and cheat to achieve their aim of removing children from loving and blameless parents?

Two, nearly three years on, I am still waiting for the answer to that question.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 18:48:48

Thank you for that summing up. You saved me a lot of difficult reading!

The judge in that case does indeed paint Mr Hemmings in a bad light.

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 18:52:53

Sorry, I should have realised that is an unusally long and quite turgid judgment. There are some pithier ones. Seriously, if anyone does worry about 'what goes on', please don't taken JH and Booker at face value, I think you would be mostly reassured by what you read in the judgments.

amillionyears Sun 18-Nov-12 18:53:52

I have a bit more problem with your 2nd post.
To my mind, trust has to be earned.
I am of the opinion that there will be some people doing bad behaviours in any walk of profession and life.
Therefore I could not rule out that there will be indeed a isolated few sws who are not working in the best interests of the child or its parents.

btw, are there still "adoption quotas", or was that a myth?

Spero Sun 18-Nov-12 19:02:46

amillionyears, I totally agree with you. There are some awful social workers out there. I have met a few. There are some rubbish lawyers. There are some arrogant, complacent experts. There are some judges who get it badly wrong - and who are appealed.

Any system operated by fallible human beings will make mistakes. Mistakes are so awful in this field because they can't be put right. You cannot remove a child from an adoptive placement and return him or her to parents after years. Those parents are now strangers.

But the system is not corrupt. It does NOT operate to quotas to 'steal' children.

Tony Blair was very keen to encourage LA to find adoptive placements for children ALREADY taken from their parents and in the care system. I think there were financial rewards for LA's who placed these children. There never have and never will be any financial rewards for taking babies in order to have them adopted. Removing a child is a fantastically expensive exercise, which explains why 95% of my cases involve children who have been left for many months if not years in really horrible situations.

And yet, so far has the poison spread by JH seeped into general conciousness, I have lots of clients who tell me in all seriousness that there child has been taken into care 'to make the LA money'. I asked one client how the LA was 'making money' from his son when it was going to cost them about £30K to foster him over a year. He could not answer. But this kind of magical thinking enabled him not to have to think about the real reason why his child was gone - his drinking, his violence - because of course, to confront that is terribly painful and difficult and he had a miserable upbringing himself after beatings from his own birth father (he was taken into care as a baby then returned! then back in care from six years old...)

This is a shorter judgment but very interesting - parents who failed to treat their daughter's asthma effectively. This kind of think usually gets JH very wound up about unjustified state interference, but you can see just how damaging the parents' actions were to their daughter
www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2012/2969.html

claig Sun 18-Nov-12 19:13:15

Spero, with all your experience in the system, do you think that there are no failings of the system itself? Did you support Labour's cash for councils policies over adoption when it was in existence? Do you think that that policy was a mistake?

You mentioned a client of yours
'It will probably not interest JH but I had a client recently who wanted to apply to revoke a placement order regarding her child. The test for this is that you must demonstrate you have made changes to your life that would justify revoking this order. The Judge wanted to hear directly from my client about the changes she had made - and they were quite impressive, considering her previous history.

She stood up and read out large chunks from the Forced Adoption webiste about how her son had been treated as a 'commodity' by the LA who stood to make a large amount of money from his adoption. I watched as the light of interest drained from the Judge's eyes. Her application was refused.'

As your client, did you advise her that criticising the LA might not be the best thing to do, and that she should have concentrated on the changes she had made which as you say "were quite impressive"?

'I watched as the light of interest drained from the Judge's eyes. Her application was refused.'

Is that the way it should be when a parent fights for their child?

You must be aware of cases like the following? Do they not just indicate failures of individuals but also some injustices and failures of the system too?

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1145645/We-8217-t--8217-children-say-Websters-reveal-appalling-anguish-welfare-state-visited-them.html

You keep trying to paint John Hemming as a 'conspiracy theorist', but I haven't seen him saying that the whole system is a conspiracy, jut that there are flaws in the system and it needs to be more open in order to prevent injustice.

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