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To ask your views on adoption wrt culture and heritage

29 replies

VladmirsPoutine · 27/06/2017 21:09

I saw a news piece today regarding a Sikh couple that were refused ability to adopt a British 'white' child because the couple are essentially not white. However they dressed it up that's still what it came down to. It must be said that this couple are also British - the only difference happens to be that they are brown.

Got me thinking. My brother was adopted - my father was white and my mother was not. I couldn't fathom him not being in my life/family and I don't think your skin colour is a good precursor to the sort of parent you will make so the decision to refuse the couple to adopt is beyond me.

That said, perhaps there is something to be said of adhering to certain values - perhaps if both adoptive parents are white and are therefore adopting a white child then there are less hurdles to jump over - i.e. questions to child why their parents are a different colour to them etc. I recall I got this a lot as a child as I'm mixed race and neither one of my parents 'looked' like me when I was being asked if my dad was really my dad or where my mum came from etc.

Interested to know what you make of it?

OP posts:

Groupie123 · 27/06/2017 21:21

Most Sikhs/Punjabis/Gujaratis can pass for white. That's the part that wasn't mentioned. A brunette white child would fit right into an Indian family, as many races would. For example I'm SE Asian and adopted into an Indian family that looks just like me. Only one who doesn't is my brunette haired, white skinned, blue eyed (full Indian) brother.

It was quite rightly questioned as a stupid ass racist decision. Indian is a nationality not a race.


SleightOfHand · 27/06/2017 21:25

God you think we could move past this type of thing in this day and age.
Funny, I was watching a film this afternoon with similar theme, it was set in the 50/60's America though.


VladmirsPoutine · 27/06/2017 21:28

But this idea of being able to "pass for white" is also incredibly damaging. As if one that does has been granted a special access pass through life. I hate that concept. I detest it - but that's a different thread.

OP posts:

Purplemac · 27/06/2017 21:28

Have just read the article and the council decision is ridiculous. DH and I are adopting and have to think a lot about the importance of cultural heritage etc and how we would courage any child's background. I would understand if this couple had not been allowed to adopt a white child based on this (if they were deemed unable to respect the cultural heritage of a white child) but they hadn't been given that opportunity, they hadn't even been allowed to register their interest in adopting ANY child! It's infuriating and blatant discrimination.


TulipsInAJug · 27/06/2017 21:32

Yes, it seems to be a policy, I know white parents can't adopt mixed race children either. It's just silly.


TeenAndTween · 27/06/2017 21:32

I'm an adopter.

SS try to place children in families where they will 'fit'. This includes racial, cultural and religious heritage. However they are not meant to hold out too long for a 'perfect' match on these if it means a child spending too long in the limbo of being ready for adoption but adopters not identified. They are more likely to place a child with a non matching family if the family has relevant links. So e.g. a white couple may be more likely to be placed with a black child if they live in a multicultural area of London than in white rural Devon.

We used to have to say to our DD she didn't have 'adopted' branded on her forehead. If we had both been a different colour then she might as well have had.

I haven't read the particular news piece. Sometimes in papers there is more to the decision than the turned down couple makes known. Sometimes however it is SW ideology.


Groupie123 · 27/06/2017 21:33

in this situation it is relevant because the couple can pass for white (they no darker than your average Greek couple, no Indian cultural links etc) and the LA only had white kids. They probably wanted to send the kids to parents who would seem familiar - these parents would have been, but not given the chance.


AhhhhThatsBass · 27/06/2017 21:36

That's seems quite racist to me. I know the adoption directives were updated a few years back such that a cultural link between adopter and adoptee is no longer a prerequisite. Which was necessary really as generally there are more white adopters and non white adoptees so historically there were lots of non white children languishing in care and an abundance of white couples willing but unable to adopt them. This is a reverse situation so probably slightly unusual given the adopters are Sikh and the adoptee is white but theoretically that shouldn't be a factor in the decision. I'm surprised they are not appealing because that seems very unfair.


BertieBotts · 27/06/2017 21:41

I think Teen is probably spot on. Newspapers like to make a big thing out of this but they don't necessarily have all the information that the SWs used to make the decision - and social workers don't generally like to splash the details of decisions made about children's lives all across the press (besides, they are probably not allowed to).

It is usually the other way around so I would be highly surprised if the ethnicity was literally the only factor in refusing these potential adopters.


notanevilstepmother · 27/06/2017 21:53

As far as I can tell this is a local decision because there are only white children waiting for adoption in that part of the country. I don't see why they couldn't apply in a different part of the UK (Birmingham, Leicester London etc etc) then they could be matched with a child who won't have to suffer people asking "how come your mum and dad aren't the same colour as you?

I don't think it's racist to try to make life easier and placements more stable for children who have had a terrible time already. I know a few people who are in families where the parents and children are obviously not biological because of this and the questions are never ending.


BoraThirch · 27/06/2017 22:00

Ideally children and parents would "match" culturally/ethnically, but not at the expense of a child finding a permanent family.

I know several foster carers who care for children of a different ethnic/cultural background, sometimes for years. Its not like all children in care can be matched with a carer or the right heritage.


TeenAndTween · 27/06/2017 22:04

SS have to decide who to spend ££ assessing for adoption. They will want to assess people who they are likely to be able to match with the children they have needing adoption.

If you have 20 couples/singles and can only assess 10 of them, you will go with those most suitable to adopt the children coming through the system (whether matching by religion/race or able to adopt sibling group / child with disability or whatever). So, for example a couple wanting a healthy white baby may be turned down if the children coming through are all age 4+ and SS already have 3 couples assessed and approved for a healthy white baby.

Just seen on local news the couple are Windsor & Maidenhead? If so they should maybe apply to Slough.


VladmirsPoutine · 27/06/2017 22:32

Newspapers like to make a big thing out of this but they don't necessarily have all the information that the SWs used to make the decision - and social workers don't generally like to splash the details of decisions made about children's lives all across the press (besides, they are probably not allowed to).

Bertie I'd usually agree. But the thing is here is that this has been made public outside all the number of potential ongoing adoptions. Whatever other criterium at issue, clearly race is one of them as they were told to look elsewhere.

OP posts:

HoneyIshrunktheBiscuit · 27/06/2017 23:35

There may be other issues at play. Maybe the couple were not flexible themselves about promoting cultural ties which don't match their own.


Fatbird71 · 27/06/2017 23:41

I agree with teenandtween. Having been through the process twice, and with a lot of prospective adopters, the LA can afford to be very choosy for who they need matches for. The couple should try another authority who may well have requirements for different backgrounds.


HoneyIshrunktheBiscuit · 27/06/2017 23:42

Besides if they want to adopt a baby in a primarily white area they are going to be waiting a long time.


Charlotteswigwam · 28/06/2017 00:05

The "try other routes" advice they were given annoyed me as well. Reading between the lines that sounded like suggesting they go for an international adoption which has far bigger issues around cultural heritage...


VestalVirgin · 28/06/2017 01:22

If they want to adopt a baby then fair enough, but if they want to adopt an older child, the cultural difference could be a problem. Isn't "Sikh" a religion, rather than a race?

I don't know about Sikhs, but I definitely wouldn't put a girl into a Muslim family knowing she'll be made to wear a veil, for example.

With families who only remember their religion when there's a a holy day to celebrate, that's not as much of an issue, but since the OP doesn't give more info ...

Maybe the couple were not flexible themselves about promoting cultural ties which don't match their own.

Yes, I was thinking along those lines, too.


G1ggleloop · 28/06/2017 01:41

The thing is that these children they aren't allowed to adopt won't be languishing waiting for families. There will be plenty of approved families with the same cultural backgrounds who are waiting to be matched with children. Surely the most sensible course of action for this couple is to approach a different LA who perhaps have a more diverse population who would be more likely to have suitable children for them. It's about finding the best possible parents for these kids. Not pleasing the potential adoptive parents


Bloodybridget · 28/06/2017 02:02

Vestal Virgin you can't assume a girl would be "made to wear a veil" in a Muslim family.
Having seen the Sikh couple on the news last night, they are visibly of Asian heritage, but I was surprised that Berkshire county council (according to them) dropped them so early in the process. Maybe as a pp said it was because they only had the resources to process a certain number of applicants.


BoomBoomsCousin · 28/06/2017 06:33

An ethnic/cultural/religious match between adoptive parents and children seems to be a factor in better outcomes for children. Not the only or dominant factor, but a factor. So I don't have a problem with agencies taking that into account, to the extent supported by evidence. Adoption decisions need to be made on the basis of attempting to maximise outcomes for the child, not about making the process fair for prospective parents. However, an ideological commitment to only placing children with same ethnicity parents does not seem supported by the evidence.

What happened in the case in the news, I don't know. They seemed to be refused very early on, but it could be that they were being pointed to another authority to try and improve chances of a better outcome for everyone, but took it the wrong way/ didn't understand it/understood but didn't agree. Seems to have been poorly handled even if all the decision making was done well with the best interests of the children at the centre.


TeenAndTween · 28/06/2017 08:02

Refused early on is way better than taken on approved in theory then no child placed because other people are a better match for a child. Going to a neighbouring LA with different demographics (e.g. Slough) could make a tremendous difference.

Also, what people here may not appreciate, is that most adoptions these days come with some form of ongoing indirect letterbox contact, with a view that when the child is an adult they can if they wish re-establish contact with birth family. Bringing a child up in a different faith is seen as a really big change to someone's cultural identity.

As I see it, either the couple could have gone to a neighbouring LA and been accepted - all sorted, or neighbouring LAs all rejected them, in which case it's something about them that the SWs are consistently saying wouldn't be suitable.

LAs 'reject' people the whole time by saying 'we can't assess you at the moment'. By going public this couple could have shot themselves in the foot for anyone else taking them on...


Bloodybridget · 28/06/2017 08:33

Yes, I completely understand about aiming to match children with adopters who are of similar ethnicity and can support children's cultural heritage. But I think there are large Asian communities in Berkshire so not unlikely that a match would come up eventually. Obviously the LA know much more than I do (!) and I'm sure they had good reasons.


kaytee87 · 28/06/2017 08:38

Hmm it's a difficult one and I'm no expert but I'd say it's very important for a child's self esteem and development to feel as if they 'belong' and part of that is looking to their parents and seeing how they are similar. I can see why ss want the best fit for the children.
Although in nature not all children are an exact mix of their parents anyway, my son is part Iranian and he's blonde and blue eyed.


Somerville · 28/06/2017 08:45

What I dislike is the implication a potential adopter who happened to be born to a family who were immigrants (however many generations back), their culture is something other than British. It could be. But it also might well just be British.

In which case, a blanket 'no you won't even be considered for a white child' is purely about skin colour, and is wrong.

I'm not saying that whether it would look very obvious that a child is adopted shouldn't be considered, and other similar considerations that involve skin tone. But given the range of colouring within the 'white British' group, and the fact that this may be outweighed anyway by factors such as an older child getting adopted who otherwise wouldn't, it seems spurious to reject potential adopters purely because of skin tone. (If that's what has really happened!)

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