Forced Adoption

Here we look at the concept of ‘forced adoption’

I am a passionate believer in the value of adoption in appropriate circumstances… But I fear that, in making all those orders, I never gave much attention to the emotional repercussions of them. In particular I fear that I failed fully to appreciate that an adoption order is not just a necessary arrangement for the upbringing of some children… the order is an act of surgery which cuts deep into the hearts and minds of at least four people and will effect them, to a greater or lesser extent, every day of their lives…

Lord Wilson Denning Society Lecture 13th November 2014

Forced adoption’  is a phrase we often hear used by people like Ian Josephs  and the former MP John Hemming  We have provided links to their sites under their names – but we hope that if you visit their sites, you will also stay here and read what we have to say.

See this post for discussion of the case law which judges have to consider before agreeing to any care plan for adoption. See this post for general discussion of the law around adoption and placement orders. 


The debate begins

The historical development of adoption in England and Wales

Adoption is the means by which a child’s legal relationship with his birth parents is eliminated and the child becomes a legal member of a new family. Adoption did not become law in England and Wales until the Adoption Act 1926; some time after the USA, Australia and Canada. Many babies born out of marriage in the Victorian era were ‘farmed out’ or placed with married couples who would pretend the baby was their own.  There were increasing concerns about the lack of regulation of this private adoption industry which led to statutory intervention. Under the Local Government Act 1929, local authorities (LA) were given powers to remove children from parents, if the LA decided they could not care for them.

See this post from the Guardian giving a time line of the history of child protection. 

In 1968, 25,000 adoption orders were made, reflecting a society where illegitimacy was still stigmatised, birth control less reliable and welfare benefits less accessible.  In 2014 only about 5000 adoption orders were made. Adoptions now rarely involve babies.

As the President of the Family Division commented at para 15 in the case of N (Children) (Adoption: Jurisdiction) [2015]:

It is important to acknowledge, however, that, whatever the legal theory, practice has changed dramatically over the 89 years we have had adoption in England. Non- consensual adoption used to be rare, but the position has changed radically. Initially, the courts took a very narrow view indeed of the final limb of section 2(3) of the 1926 Act: see Re JM Caroll [1931] 1 KB 317 and contrast H v H [1947] KB 463. Much more important, the entire focus of adoption has changed dramatically in recent decades. Until the late 1960s, the typical adoption was of an illegitimate child born to a single mother who, however reluctantly, consented to the adoption of her child. Non-consensual adoption was comparatively rare. A combination of dramatic changes in the 1960s – the ready availability of the contraceptive pill, the legalisation of abortion, the relaxation of the divorce laws and a sea-change in society’s attitudes to illegitimacy – led to a drastic reduction in the number of adoptions of the traditional type. The result of various changes in the system of public childcare, culminating in the implementation in October 1991 of the 1989 Act, has led in recent decades to a correspondingly dramatic increase in the number of non-consensual adoptions. The typical adoption today is of a child who has been made the subject of a care order under the 1989 Act and where parental consent has been dispensed with in accordance with section 52(1)(b) of the 2002 Act.

The often highly polarised debate about ‘forced adoption’ and what this means for child protection work, gained increased traction around 2007 and became the focus of renewed attention towards the end of 2013. This followed discussion of Alessandra Pacchieri  (the ‘forced caesarean case’ ) and media interest in reports of parents wrongly suspected of abusing their children who were actually suffering from various medical conditions.

You can read comment on Ms Pacchieri’s case and the judgment here. The court made an adoption order in relation to her child in April 2014. The case is here. For an explanation of what sparked John Hemming’s interest in the child protection system, see ‘Hemming’s Way’ the article by Jonathan Gornall in 2007.


The Conspiracy Theory and allegations of systemic corruption

However, despite the enormous reduction in adoption orders over 40 years, the debate about the entire concept of adoption continues to grow. There have been serious concerns about the child protection system for many years. Those unhappy with the UK’s approach to ‘forced adoption’  raised their concerns in November 2014 with the European Parliament’s Petition Committee.

In fact, it was this 2013 ‘forced adoption’ debate that encouraged us to set up this resource as we were concerned that a lot of justifiable criticism about the system was getting lost or taken over by those who wanted to believe the more extreme ‘conspiracy theories’  – i.e. that the entire system was corrupt and that social workers are paid bonuses to snatch babies from loving homes.

For a sad example of the damage that can be done to a parent’s chances of keeping their family together, by  a ‘siege mentality’ and belief that concerns about their parenting are fuelled by a conspiracy, see Hertfordshire County Council v F & Others [2014] EWHC 2159.

We have attempted to debunk some of the more specific myths here and in particular the frequently made assertion that adoption targets exist to take babies away, rather than to promote finding adoptive families for children who have already been through care proceedings and don’t have a permanent home.

People who are unhappy with the current child protection system often refer to it as a system of ‘forced adoption’ which is almost unique in Europe.

However, this assertion is not supported by the 2015 Report by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development from the Council of Europe which notes that adoptions without parental consent are possible in Andorra, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey.  A further 7 countries permit adoption without parental consent in ‘rare’ circumstances. See further, this post from the Transparency Project. See also this post from Claire Fenton-Glynn confirming that EVERY European country has a mechanism to provide for adoption without parental consent. 

They say that children are taken from parents for no good reason in order to meet LA’s ‘adoption targets’ set by various Governments and this is shown by the increased numbers of children being taken into care.

It is further alleged that family courts are secret and people who try to speak out will be sent to prison. Parents aren’t allowed to see the evidence against them and lawyers, experts and Judges are all in each other’s pockets and just rubber stamp the decisions made by the LA and social workers.

There are many on line groups for parents who are convinced that their children were removed on the basis of deliberate lies. The view expressed here is typical:

UK Social Services/CAFCASS are the most prolific and serious perpetrators of Domestic Violence in the country. UK Family Law Courts a close second. One day, history lessons will describe the horrific details of what is happening to families all across the country. The descendants of those who have perpetrated this abuse, will be ashamed of their ancestors and try to distance themselves from them….

Worries about social work practice come from a variety of sources. Colin Brewer wrote in the Spectator in the aftermath of the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal:

The Rotherham report suggests, as June and I suggested 34 years ago, that social workers excel at empathy but lack the ability to carry out ‘coherently planned action’. Social work with troubled teenagers is doubtless even more challenging today than it was in the 1980s, yet the report’s conclusions reveal many of the unhelpful institutional and ideological features that we identified are still with us…

It seems these were not just individual failures, occasional and regrettable exceptions in a generally efficient professional culture, but a persistent feature of a profession that emphasises doing good rather than doing it efficiently. This happens despite the fact that social workers have relatively modest case loads, especially compared with doctors.

These are not fanciful concerns. We should all be interested in the state of our child protection services. However, while we accept that sadly there have been serious examples of injustice we don’t accept that this is a result of deliberate corruption within the system itself, or chasing after ‘adoption targets’.

What is clear is that a growing number of people DO believe exactly that. We need to understand why and what we can do about it. 


Adoption Targets: How did this belief take hold? do they exist, and what impact do they have?

In 2000, the government introduced a national target to increase the number of children adopted from care by at least 40% between 1999-2000 and 2004-5. Tony Blair had been horrified by the numbers of children who remained in care for long periods of time without a permanent home.

Therefore, these were not targets to take children from their homes in order to get them adopted but a well intentioned attempt to help children who were already in the care system and hadn’t been found a permanent home.

Claire Fenton-Glynn describes the situation in her study on the UK system, presented to the European Parliament in June 2015:

The Prime Minister’s Review of Adoption in 2000 put forward the belief that the system was not delivering the best for children, as decisions about how to provide a secure, stable and permanent family were not addressed early enough. As such, it advocated an increase in the use of adoption to provide children with permanency at an earlier stage. The Review gave the opinion that there was too great a focus on rehabilitation with the birth family, at the expense of the child’s welfare. It emphasised that the first choice should always be a return to the birth family, but where this was clearly not an option, adoption should be seen as a key means of providing permanence. Foster care, on the other hand, was viewed as a transitional measure, which should be used only as a temporary option.

Following on from this, the government produced a White Paper entitled Adoption: A New Approach, which outlined the government’s plan to promote the wider use of adoption for looked after children, establishing the target of increasing adoption by 40-50 per cent by 2004-2005.39 The White Paper also announced that the government would require local authorities to make a plan for permanence – returning home, placement for adoption, or special guardianship40 – for a child within 6 months of being continuously looked after.

It was in this context that the Adoption and Children Act 2002 was introduced, with the explicit aim of promoting the greater use of adoption. The Act changed the process of adoption itself, by making the welfare of the child the paramount consideration for courts and adoption agencies in all decisions relating to adoption, including in deciding whether to dispense with the birth parents’ consent to adoption.

The Government’s official position about targets to get children taken into care is clear: they don’t exist. Matthew Dalby of  the Ministerial and Public Communications Division of the Department of Education said in October 2014, in response to an email from a parent:

I must explain that there are no targets on the numbers of children in care. In fact the law is clear in that children should live with their parents wherever possible and that families should be given extra support to help keep them together. In most cases, support from the local authority (LA) enables concerns to be addressed and children to remain with their families.

The Transparency Project responded in September 2015 to John Hemming’s assertion that the London Borough of Merton has ‘targets’ to take children from their birth families. There are certainly concerns that ‘key performance indicators’ promoting adoption could risk impacting on the integrity of decision making for individual children. This was analysed in more detail after receiving responses to FOI requests to councils in England and Wales – see the report of the Transparency Project in November 2016. Some of the responses raised concern that reliance on ‘adoption targets’ by some councils in England, could lead decisions being made about children to meet targets, rather than promote their welfare.

Judicial response to allegations of systemic corruption

John Hemming raised very specific allegations about the corruption in the family courts in the case of RP v Nottingham [2008] which were rejected by Wall LJ as being without evidence:

97. It is plain to me from these documents, that in addition to the allegations set out above, Mr. Hemming believes that HJ was in the pay of the local authority and thus was “the local authority’s expert”. For good measure, he asserts that the system is “evil” and that “there does seem to be little concern in the legal profession about the reliability of opinion offered in court.”. The clear implication behind the “witch findings” items on the website set out at paragraph 95 above is that “experts” like HJ are in it for the money; that they are happy to “manufacture ‘evidence'”; and that they are in receipt of “phoney” letters of instruction. The result, Mr Hemming asserts is a “disaster”.

98. In my judgment, these comments are not only wrong and ill-informed; the simple fact remains that they have no foundation in the evidence presented either to the Nottingham County Court or to this court. That they are made publicly by Mr Hemming once again strikes me as an abuse of his position.

Wall LJ went on to say at para 127:

In my judgment, the arguments advanced by Mr Hemming in this case are ill-informed and tendentious. They are contradicted by the evidence, and must be rejected. I think this most unfortunate. Nobody who works in the Family Justice System regards it as perfect: most of us see it as under-resourced and struggling to deal with the work loads thrust upon it. Constructive criticism, particularly from those in a position to bring about change, is to be welcomed. I am myself in no doubt that the system must change and adapt, and I have spoken many times in public in support of my belief that there needs to be greater transparency in order to combat the partial, tendentious and inaccurate criticisms made against the system. I therefore welcome the opportunity provided by this case to demonstrate that the system has operated properly, and that the criticisms made are unfounded.

The Law of Unintended Consequences – Campaigners reject the ‘official’ position

However, following the introduction of targets to speed up finding a home for children in care, some then argue that the ‘law of unintended consequences’  came into play and these targets acted to promote undesirable behaviour from those in the child protection system.

John Hemming has argued that these targets did little to help the older children already in care but rather had the effect of encouraging local authorities to issue care proceedings with regard to more ‘adoptable’ children so they would filter through the system, end up adopted quickly and improve the adoption rates.

This was denied at the time; see this report from BBC News On Line in 2008:

The Children’s Minister Kevin Brennan has denied claims that young children are being taken into care by local authorities to meet adoption targets. Mr Brennan has written to two national newspapers to say there has never been any financial incentive for councils to meet national adoption targets. The claims surfaced over the case of a baby in Nottingham placed into care just hours after being born. Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming has accused the council of baby-stealing.

In a letter to The Times and The Daily Mail, Mr Brennan says there were national adoption targets designed to place more children in care into loving, family homes. But, he writes, “they ended in 2006; and there was never a financial incentive for local authorities to meet these national targets.”

The belief that children are removed from loving homes in order for LA’s to meet their ‘adoption targets’ persists to date.  There is no doubt that this version of events feels very ‘right’ to a significant number of people.

As Claire Fenton-Glynn comments:

While national adoption targets were set for some years, these ceased in 2006. The government emphasised that targets were intended to make sure more children who had been adjudged to need an adoptive placement were found permanent homes. They were not intended to affect the judgment of whether the child was in need of an adoption. However, despite the government’s statements, there is a danger that such targets do impact on such an evaluation, or at the very least, create the perception that they do so. Moreover, the government’s focus on adoption risks disadvantaging those children in care for whom adoption is not suitable. In the year ending 31 March 2014, only 16% of children who left the English care system were adopted, with others returning home, being placed with relatives, or with a special guardian, among other options. As such, an excessive focus on adoptive placements can mean that these others do not receive sufficient attention.

So what is really going on?

There are a number of elements we need to look at to try and work out whether assertions about a deliberately corrupt system contain any truth. Without doubt, the child protection system is not working well. We need to think more deeply why that is.

  • The continuing and repeating pressures on the child protection system which lead to growing distrust between parents and professionals;
  • The cost of care proceedings – why would a LA bear these costs without very good reason?
  • What do the statistics tell us about adoption rates for babies or very young children?
  • Adoption rates are now set to fall in the aftermath of the judgment in Re B-S.


A system under pressure

Helping children is a human process. When the bureaucratic aspects of work become too dominant, the heart of the work is lost.

The Munro Review of Child Protection Final Report

We consider the  history of concerns about the child protection system in more detail in this post. In brief, it seems that for very many years the system has become overwhelmed by the demands placed upon it. Excessive bureaucracy, dangerously high caseloads and low morale amongst social workers combine to work against good decision making and protecting children.

Some argue that it is the Children Act 1989 itself that has contributed to the problems, as it has pushed the law into ever less measurable levels of ‘abuse’ rather than setting out realistically measurable standards to govern the protection of children.

The fact that the system is under considerable strain and pressure is a serious problem for us all – but it is not evidence of deliberate malignity on the part of those decision makers.  


The cost of care proceedings

It seems odd to suggest that LA deliberately set out to target children to adopt to ‘make money’ when you consider just how much care proceedings will cost them.  Research from the University of Bristol in 2011 said this:

Bringing care proceedings is a costly and time consuming business for local authorities. It has been estimated that each care case takes up 20 per cent of a full-time social worker’s working hours for a year (Plowden 2009). In addition, the local authority will have to contribute towards independent assessments ordered by the court and may need to instruct barristers (counsel) to represent it at court. In order to ensure that proceedings are used only where the local authority can prove its case and court orders are required, as well as to control expenditure, local authorities have established internal procedures for approving court applications. Legal advice and senior management approval are generally required even where an application if made for an order to remove or detain a child in an emergency (Masson et al 2007; DCSF 2008, para 3.3).

However, some will assert that the cost of care proceedings is actually an illustration of the problem – it’s a ‘gravy train’, keeping lawyers, social workers and experts in employment.  So if the financial burden on the LA does not reassure people that care proceedings are not taken lightly, what can we see from the statistics about children taken into care?

If Hemming and others are right, we should see a clear rise from 2000 in the number of babies or very young children taken into care and then adopted.


Lies, damned lies and statistics

We argue that the statistics do NOT support an argument that more babies and young ‘adoptable’ children have been targeted since 2000, although it is clear that the number of children being adopted has been rising. However, we agree that there are reasons for concern over a general ‘push’ for adoption as a ‘good thing’ that may lead to compromising the integrity of decisions made about children.

There is now considerable interest in the statistics around adoption and placement orders, so we consider this in detail in another post.


Why we reject the allegation of systemic corruption

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

The court judgments, culminating in Re B-S that have so concerned Martin Narey were right to point out the dangers of sloppy analysis. But why had some cases got into such a mess?  Because the system was ‘evil’, the social workers were telling lies to get their bonuses and that all the lawyers and judges closed their eyes to this because its actually a government policy?

Or is it more likely , that what we have is a child protection system that is often inefficient and/or overwhelmed by case loads? where mistakes are made, but rarely due to deliberate malice?

The conspiracy theories take hold because they feel ‘right’ to a lot of people who may have good cause to feel that they have not been listened to or treated fairly. This can lead people to  be unable or unwilling to consider a reality which does not accord with their strongly held perceptions:

People say: “Let the facts speak for themselves”; they forget that the speech of facts is real only if it is heard and understood. It is thought to be an easy matter to distinguish between fact and theory, between perception and interpretation. In truth, it is extremely difficult.

For further fascinating discussion about the impact of cognitive bias and how hard it is to get people to abandon their narratives, even if they are based on a false premise, see this article ‘Your Brain is Primed to Reach False Conclusions’.


What is our reality?

We have not been able to find evidence to support the assertion that the child protection system is designed and maintained deliberately to be corrupt or ‘evil’. Recent research from Cafcass says that LAs were right to make applications for care orders in 80% of cases they reviewed.

But that of course does not mean the system is perfect. Far from it. If 80% of cases are ‘right’ we still have 20% which are not and that is worrying. There are also serious concerns that an ideological ‘push’ for adoption is masking proper consideration of statistical trends.

We agree with that justice needs to be seen to be done and there should be as much openness as possible about such serious matters.

  • We accept that there can be serious consequences when a system is overwhelmed by cases; individual practitioners may lack support, and there is a risk of bad or even no decisions getting made. There is a particularly sad example of that in the case of A and S in 2012 where the boys’ Independent Reviewing Officer had a case load three times in excess of that recommended by good practice.
  • Sometimes mistakes are made because lawyers and doctors got it wrong about the medical evidence. Here is an example of a case where the court decided there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude that a child suffered non accidental injuries as this child also had rickets due to Vitamin D deficiency.
  • There is no doubt that the Government wishes to speed up the adoption process and there are legitimate concerns about how the new Children and Families Act 2014 will operate. See further this article by Cathy Ashley of the Family Rights Group and here for the views of Barnados on the need to speed up adoptions.
  • We note the conclusions of the the Report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Council of Europe which was concerned by the high numbers of children in England and Wales who were adopted without parental consent, and commented (see para 74) that the UK’s refusal to reverse adoption orders where there had been a miscarriage of justice was a ‘misunderstanding’ of the best interests of the child, who had a right to return to his birth family.
  • Possibly the most serious problem is that social workers in child protection work are asked to wear ‘two hats’ at the same time – they are tasked with supporting families at the same time as they are gathering evidence against them. The tension and difficulties inherent in this dual role are obvious. See Wrennall, L. 2004 Miscarriages of Justice in Child Protection: a brief history and proposals for change.

But what we don’t accept is that these problems – as serious as they undoubtedly are – can legitimately lead to a conclusion that the whole system is corrupt and operating to ‘steal children’ to meet government endorsed targets.

We think it would be a great shame for children and parents if legitimate debate about problems in the system is overwhelmed by allegations that have no basis in fact and which serve only to make parents even more worried and frightened about what the system might ‘do’ to them and their children.


The Way Forward.

However, we accept that it is odd, if adoption really is the ‘gold standard’ for children that other jurisdictions do not seem to share the UK’s enthusiasm for adoption without the parents’  consent. 

We should always be open to more discussion and debate about what we should be doing to secure the welfare of children.

You may be interested in this post describing the different approach in Finland, where children who are taken into care will Iive with foster families or in institutional care.  
You may also be interested in this article by an adoptive parent in the Guardian from 2012, discussing the difficulties caused by lack of post adoption support.
There are also concerns expressed by adoptive parents that they haven’t been given the full picture about their children’s backgrounds and this has caused enormous problems for the family. 

  • We agree that everyone who works in the system should be aware of the dangers of an insular or paternalistic approach to child protection issues.
  • We agree that adoption may not be the best plan for every child and there should not be an automatic assumption that adoption is best. There is an interesting article criticising ‘adoption driven systems’ here.
  • However, we think for many children subject to a final care order, it will represent their best chance of achieving a stable and loving home throughout their childhood.
  • We agree that placements with family members should continue to be investigated thoroughly.
  • We also agree that we need more consideration to how we support adoptive placements after an order is made as studies show the breakdown rates for adoptions can be as high as 25%. There is interesting research from the US here which looks at rates of adoption disruption and why they break down. Research published on April 9th 2014 by the University of Bristol offers another perspective on adoption disruption rates, concluding that they are low but emphasising the importance of post adoption support, particularly for older and more challenging children.
  • Social workers need more help to deal with the bureaucracy of their job, so they can focus on working with and supporting families – the ‘reclaiming social work’ model needs wider implementation.
  • What we don’t agree with is a debate that polarises around the term ‘forced adoption’ and politicians who advise parents to leave the country rather than engage with social workers.
  • Where we all hopefully agree is that every child has the right to grow up in a safe home and that any child protection investigation must be carried out quickly and fairly.

We hope this site can be part of sharing resources and information to promote open and honest debate about the child protection system.


Further Reading

Key Messages from the Department of Education Research

The Department of Education published ‘Adoption Cases Reviewed: an indicative study of process and practice’ in 2013 which provides a comprehensive review of contested adoption proceedings. Its key messages are set out below. While the review certainly did not find that everything was perfect, it did not conclude there was any evidence of systemic corruption or orders made for trivial reasons:

  • The study confirmed routine local authority and judicial compliance with the required procedural and legal framework for adoption. Parents’ rights to due process in contesting and opposing care, placement and adoption applications were ensured. Decisions were taken by the court in an appropriate way, following the full testing of evidence.
  • Local authority practice in the study cases pre-dated current statutory guidance, in which permanence is required to provide the framework for all social work with children and families. Where it lacked this perspective, social work intervention could not be relied upon to pursue effectively the protection and care planning that might have secured child safety on a permanent basis at home.
  • In addition, quality assurance of child protection and care planning was insufficiently robust.
  • Where risk assessment and protection and care planning lacked confidence and decisiveness, the right of the child to have a safe and permanent family life secured in a timely way could be compromised. Similarly, the right of parents to effective intervention to help them make necessary changes could be neglected where permanence principles were not applied equally to the process of rehabilitation.
  • While no clear pattern of contestation emerged in these cases parents often argued that the local authority had sought merely to gather evidence to make the case against them, rather than intervene purposefully to support the changes required to keep the child safely at home.
  • Extensive use of independent expert evidence and advice provided a guarantee that harm and risk had been assessed fully and decisions appropriately informed, once the case was in proceedings. However, the use of experts also caused duplication and delay. Current proposals for reform will need to ensure such evidence is deployed effectively within the sharper case management regime.
  • This study suggests that the enhancement and quality assurance of the expertise and effectiveness of social work within the inter-agency system should attract policy attention. Timely and proportionate decision making is undermined as much by lack of case management continuity and of grip in making a judgement about parents’ capacity to change in the local authority as it is in the court.
  • The reform process should be underpinned by a review of the philosophy, organisation and support of local authority case management in protection and care planning, to ensure reliability of compliance with current statutory guidance that a permanence perspective is employed as a matter of routine.
  • The reform process should also include a review of the availability and effectiveness of post-placement support for birth parents in all forms of permanent placement, including placement at home.


158 thoughts on “Forced Adoption

  1. MerlinC

    Can I link this fabulous article to another one I’m writing for an Italian online publication? Because it is fantastic and I think it deserves a lot of attention! 🙂

  2. MerlinC

    Sorry it took me ages to collect all the evidence against the forced adoption theory and to write a decent article about its flaws. Of course, I will link to your article for the legal part 😉

    It won’t convince the silly conspiracy theorists but at least we have evidence online they are saying and preaching b@%#$#€ ….

  3. Philip Measures

    BUT – and I stand to be corrected but no-one has yet produced it – we have a total absence of any long-term systematic research into the positives and negatives of adoption. It may be either more or less effective than we think but why, within what is the ONLY permanent live-changing legal Order that can be made which completely severs all blood ties (except in the cases of ‘mother’s-own’ adoptions) do we lack such methodical evidence-based research?

  4. phillimoresarah

    Good question. I think the answer is that to have a child adopted means you can close the book and say ‘problem solved’ – or rather, not the state’s problem any more but the family’s problem.

    I am often taken aback by the uncritical devotion of some to adoption as a cure for all ills, when it manifestly is not, particularly when you have children who are traumatised by their experiences with their birth family and there is not enough post adoption support.

    But I think the tide may be turning. More research is definitely needed in my view – or at least better ways of getting the research ‘out there’ to the practitioners; I know there is lots of good stuff that I often ‘stumble over’. We need clear and robust ways to disseminate the existing research.

  5. Julie

    Thanks to all the contributors here for clear and constructive explanations and comments. I am not sure where the term ‘forced adoption’ originated. It is inaccurate in many ways. It does seem that an adoption order made without the consent of a parent is relatively unusual in other jurisdictions. However that does not necessarily mean that children’s and parents’ rights are always better addressed in other countries than the UK. nor does it necessarily mean that a parent who does not ‘fight’ an adoption here does not suffer as much of a loss as a parent who is contesting. I have read that ‘forced’ is a term picked up from the apologies in Australia, where adoption is now rare. But I don’t know if that is in fact the origin.
    I wasn’t sure what the question above about research meant though. There is recent and ongoing research about adoption in England and Wales, so i will try to help if you can specify exactly what you are looking for.

    1. MerlinC

      Forced Adoption was also used to address the phenomenon of the children given into adoption through the Catholic Church, sometimes breaking all ties between the birth mother and the child. Due to the rise of sexual abuses all over the european continent, more and more judges tend to put children into adoption without parents’ consent. So, I have no idea where the myth “it doesn’t happen anywhere else” comes from.

      1. phillimoresarah

        I need to find out! I am often told that it is only us and Portugal who use ‘forced adoption’ i.e. without birth parents consent, but I don’t know where that comes from.

        1. MerlinC

          No, Italy’s courts for minors have the power to strip the birth parents of custody and decide to have them adopted without their consent. Of course, there is not a care system like the British one and social services intervention is limited until the “damage” to the children is evident. Furthermore, children under six can only be given to foster families, not orphanages/care houses anymore.
          Link (it is in Italian, mind you…)

          Unfortunately it also transpires that married couples have less chances to be deprived of custody then single parents or unmarried couples. Which shows the “religious orientation” of Family Law in countries with a majority of Catholic people.

    2. Eeyore Incognito

      Can I also add to this the notion that an adoption without consent means a birth parent does not support an adoption is not always true?

      In our case we were informed by the GaL that birth parents often understand and accept the need for adoption yet, at the time of considerable duress during finality of proceedings, simply cannot bring themselves to sign a piece of paper which hands over their child to someone else, because they don’t ever want the child to believe they were unloved or abandoned and “given away”. However in not doing so, the adoption becomes one that is contested.

      It is my understanding (from the GaL) that this is not something that is thought badly of within court proceedings, since it is understood just how difficult this last step is. I’m not sure really where I am going with this but would be interested to hear other views or understanding around this, and how this type of issue might affect research outcomes of “contested” adoptions.

      1. phillimoresarah

        It is very common, in my experience at least, for parents to say that they don’t actively want to ‘fight’ but they can’t bring themselves to agree. And everyone understands this completely.

        I do wish there was more independent support for parents – I think Hilary Searing makes the point very well that we need a distinction between the ‘investigation’ and the ‘support’ element of social work. At the moment, one social worker has to wear two very different hats; trying to gather evidence to prove your ability (or not) as a parent and trying to work to support the family to stay together. These are often competing aims and there is no surprise there is tension/lack of trust.

        I see a lot of parents who think they HAVE to fight or their children or friends will think less of them. And maybe what is really needed is to give these parents space and time to accept that sometimes the ‘fight’ is not what they need and choosing not to fight does NOT mean they didn’t love their children or didn’t care for them – as the blog from our birth parent on this site shows, sometimes accepting that you can’t parent at this time is the ultimate act of love for a child in that you sacrifice your own emotions to secure them a better future.

    3. ian josephs

      I originated the term “forced-adoption” around 2002 and so named my site. Nobody except the judges talk of grand conspiracies and they only do this so they can debunk the idea ! In fact of course it is more a case of “birds of a feather flock together” or those who live off a rotten system naturally defend the system. Our wonderful MPs when they fiddled their expenses did not conspire together ;they individually fiddled of course but I doubt if they had a grand meeting to decide the best ways to fiddle ! It was each man for himself “;snouts in the trough” and so it is with the judges,the social workers,the “experts”,the guardians ,and the cafcass gang ! They don’t care if the LA makes a loss as long as they do alright individually
      The fact is that babies are taken at birth for mere “risk” of emtional abuse.Parents who have not committed crimes against children should not be punished and neither should their children.That is what is wrong AND TO STOP TAKING CHILDREN FROM PARENTS WHO HAVE NOT BROKEN THE LAW IS THE WAY TO PUT THINGS RIGHT.After all what is the point of laws if you punish people who don’t break them?

      1. lyn

        Well said In, these people are deluded & claiming hardly any babies are adopted anymore is a down right lie.. I know of about 5 people who lost to force adoption just this month. & its certainly wrong how when these people a caught out lying in court they not charged for this

        1. Sarah Phillimore

          Its not a downright lie. look at the statistics. The majority of children adopted are between ages of 1 and 4. They are not babies.

          1. Titus Yang

            To comment on Ian Josephs’ quote and Sarah Phillimore’s reply:
            “Stop taking children from parents who have not broken the the law is the way to put things right”.
            The response of : “Your energy is admirable, your tedious repetition of the same old, same old is not.” is clearly not addressing the comment directly, only an attempt at childish insult.
            Perhaps the reason Ian Josephs repeats the above is because this issue has not been addressed in any meaningful way, either by Social Services or individuals like yourself, Sarah.
            So the question remains, why are people/children being punished in spite of not breaking any laws?

          2. Sarah Phillimore

            I have addressed Mr Joseph’s comments time and time again. He simply repeats his tired old mantras. Sorry that you find this ‘childish’ – I find it very irritating and completely counterproductive. There is a distinction between the criminal law which exists to express society’s disapproval of criminal acts and to protect the public from criminals, and from laws about child protection which exist to protect children. Therefore, parents who have not committed a criminal offence may find themselves not allowed to look after their children, because the risk that they will harm their children is considered too great.

    4. Marion

      FORCED/COERCED adoption with your legal rights denied you, is exactly that,.. FORCED ADOPTION. We Mothers of the 60’s who’s babies were taken from us, all because WE WERE UNMARRIED. We dared to have intercourse out of wedlock, classed as sexually deviant, feebleminded, bringing down the moral fabric of society, our babies were taken, as punishment . Social Policy, coupled with church approval, along with government sanction. OUR BABIES TAKEN from us, because we had, NO WEDDING RING. Absolutely NO SUPPORT AFFORDED US, how DISGRACEFUL, no support after your baby is taken from your arms for a CLOSED ADOPTION. TWO PARENTS ,married pillars of society, go and do your chores with a glad heart, your baby will have a mummy AND a daddy. Can you imagine that in today’s society? all because we were UNMARRIED MOTHERS. Thrown to the wolves, post adoption. Overwhelmed with a tsunami of grief that hit us, seared to the marrow, told by M&B Detention centres and social workers, GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE…The wolves destroyed us, this was 60’s UK. Our Pathological grief, PTSD, recurring breakdowns, depressions,our mental health and physical health never validated by HEALTH BODIES ACROSS THE BOARD. Our mental state swept under the carpet for generations. This article above, is an ABSOLUTE DISGRACE, it brings to the fore the plight and support needed for adopters, it has a measure of support for the child taken for adoption. W hat a travesty, THE MOTHER that has had her baby/child taken , IS NOT MENTIONED, WHERE I ASK YOU, WHERE IS HER SUPPORT? oh I forgot we the 60’s ZOMBIES OF THIS COUNTRY sailed into the sunset, AND GOT ON WITH OUR LIVES. This article denies outright , the TSUNAMI MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES that ensues post- adoption, the separated years, pre-reunion, post reunion. Australia you mention, the most HONOURABLE NATION, light years ahead of nations where adoption is prevalent, took a GOOD LOOK at themselves, due to the fact MOTHERS of LOSS to adoption, and our TAKEN SONS and DAUGHTERS Galvanised, mostly through self help support groups on the internet, they took their history of adoption experiences , with legitimate grievances, to government, government took an in-depth look and study. Government called upon the cream of the land engaged for generations within adopt practice, the collective research collated, committees formed,professionals papers presented and accepted, …OUTCOME….A National Apology for …PAST FORCED ADOPTION PRACTICE…. culminating in Prime Minister Julia Gillard, making her HISTORIC SPEECH on behalf of the nation …SAID SORRY… A national exhibition was commissioned, two years on from the apology,this March Julia Gillard opened the exhibition titled….WITHOUT CONSENT…. This is the definition of FORCED ADOPTION… We, the so pro-adoption nation, with the preverbal ostrich syndrome, need to RAISE THE BAR ,from the physical well being of the child, to the psychological well being of the child, and look seriously at the EXPENSE accrued for mental health support. Finally introduce parenting skills at primary level, into secondary education parenting skills made compulsory .

      Try incarcerating a teenage mum today in a penal servitude , harsh, regime, run by bodies under the guise of christianity, where they were never once, shown the SAMARITAN care, and compassion, you read within true christianity. I wonder how that care, and treatment , would be received today?

      The teenage mothers within these regimes were the LEPROUS ONES

      Becoming the SECRET NATION within OUR NATION.
      49 years ago this week, my nine month old baby was taken from my arms, all because I was not married, I asked for help to keep my baby, that was refuse. Fugitive for my sins, I , like many teen mums, shunned by society and family, SHAMED into secrecy, never allowed back home…, lived our lives moving across the UK. The teenager that crossed the threshold of the mother and baby home..NEVER CAME BACK, the women we are today, seared by our experience, is who we became, YOUR NATION OF FORGOTTEN MOTHERS.

      1. Sarah Phillimore

        I am sorry to hear that you have felt such pain over many years. This is not a post about denying that pain. It is post looking at what are the problems and challenges for the child protection system in 2015, which has little to do with how unmarried mothers were treated in the 1960s – I am sure we are all very glad that we have moved on from the attitudes of society at that time.

        there are contributors to this site who are very aware of the pain felt by parents who have not wanted to give up their children and who describe the pain this caused and still causes.

        1. Marion

          My reply, and elaboration of my reply, was to furnish Julie, with the answer to her question, WHAT IS FORCED ADOPTION.

          Thank you.

          1. lily

            Hi Marion. I was about to write something similar because I am an adoptee from the ‘Baby Scoop Era’ and the description in the paragraph about past adoption practices has been completely whitewashed and is untrue.

            “Until the late 1960s, the typical adoption was of an illegitimate child born to a single mother who, however reluctantly, consented to the adoption of her child. Non-consensual adoption was comparatively rare”

            To say that mothers from this era in any way ‘consented’ is a complete lie. They were most definitely ‘forced’- due to coercion, withholding of support, lies, direct force, having no other choice. I am so glad that mothers from this era are speaking out about what happened. The UK, unlike Australia has completely glossed over this barbaric time for women and babies.

            Often, in the ‘Mother and Baby Homes’, adoptive parents would give ‘donations’ to the homes, essentially they were baby farms and children were commodities. The way the mothers were treated in the homes, seen as less than human.

            It was a system based on huge imbalances of power- unwed mothers facing huge stigma and pressure vs adoptive parents with more ‘standing’ in society, more support. It was a totally exploitative system.

            As you say, it was a punitive measure to punish single mothers who had ‘sinned’ and to solve the problem of infertile, married couples who were seen as ‘more deserving’. The whole system was social engineering.

            Well done on speaking up.

      2. Kate Wells

        Dear Marian – your post has touched me deeply. I too was an “unmarried mother” in 1967 but I had the good fortune to have parents who supported me and welcomed me back home with my son. I had a cousin who was a Catholic priest and he arranged for me to go to a M&B home in Bristol (100 miles from my home area) but my mom said it wasn’t a good idea as it was run by nuns who wouldn’t understand. And my parents were staunch Catholics.
        In the same year my best friend also had a baby “out of wedlock” but she was forced to give up her baby for adoption and I know the torment she has suffered over the years. Even the birth of 2 subsequent children did very little to dilute the pain of the loss of her first born.
        Young mothers were most definitely forced/coerced into giving up their baby for adoption in the 60’s and in the decades before that I’m sure. It carried on into the early 70s I think, and maybe longer for some women.
        I don’t know if you’ve read anything about those awful times for mothers and maybe it’s too painful for you to do so, I don’t know. You might have heard of the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee” or even read it and it tells of how those nuns in Ireland lied to the adopted son of Philomena, claiming they did not know of her whereabouts when in fact she lived nearby. By the time the adopted son returned to Ireland from America (he was adopted by an American couple) the convent was of course no longer a M & B home and the nuns claimed all the records have been burned in a fire. They were wicked women who lied.
        I’m so very very sorry Marian that 49 years on you are still grieving and I know that this will grief will never leave you.
        Times have changed – and as you say being a single parent in this day and age is nothing unusual, but back then, it was all so different.
        I had a 30 year career in social work and worked with many adoptees who were trying to trace their birthmothers, and birthmothers trying to trace the children they had been forced to give up for adoption. Some reunions were happy, others less so, but it was harrowing to hear of the birthmothers who, like you, were still suffering from the loss of their child, so many years on……. and the look on the face of the adoptee when they saw for the first time their real name on their birth certificate – they weren’t in fact “Angela Mary Jones” they were “Eileen Mary Downey” (made up names) Of course everything was shrouded in secrecy in those days and again things have changed so much in this day and age. There does still have to be matters that need to be kept confidential when children are adopted but all adopters are given the clear message that the children must be told that they are adopted (if they are babies or young children) as early as possible, with picture books at first for the very young, and later their own “life story book” with picture of their birthparents, foster carers, and anything else related to their early life.
        We are against the term FORCED adoption in this day and age because this is something that is used by people who claim there is a conspiracy theory to “snatch babies” from decent families and this just isn’t true. It means that an Adoption Order is made against the wishes of the parents. This is very different from the FORCED adoption that you, and thousands of other women suffered simply on the basis that you were not married. It was shocking and brutal – I don’t know if you have had any support from an Post Adoption Service who are set up to help those in the “Adoption Triangle” the birthparent, the adoptee and the adoptors.
        Marian I hope that somehow you have found the emotional strength and resilience to help you through the years, and that you have good friends and family. But please believe me there is NO similarity between what you experienced and the way in which Adoption Orders are made today on children who have been abused/neglected by their birthparents.

        1. lily

          Hi Kate,
          I actually agree that the term ‘forced adoption’ not being appropriate for modern day adoptions. I was a victim of ‘forced/ coerced adoption’ of the past, and I can see that the system is very different these days.

          I agree that the past adoptions were indeed FORCED. And they were brutal and punitive. But adoptions these days are due to Child Protection.

          I often feel very uncomfortable when parents who’ve ‘lost their children’ and then have been adopted come into adoptee/ mother support groups and claim that their situation is the same as ours. I feel it minimises the utter lack of power and resources that mothers of the past had. Modern day parents have way more chances and support than our mothers ever did.

          I am often wary of accidentally supporting someone who has abused their child- because while the ‘forced adoptions’ of the past were merely due to being unmarried, modern day adoptions are usually as a result of of some kind of abuse or neglect.

          I find it offensive when certain journalists compare the past ‘forced adoptions’ in Australia and the UK, with the modern day system. As you say, they are not the same at all. Different motives, different system. Babies WERE literally stolen from mothers.

          What do you think about this report?

        2. lily

          You are also correct that these forced adoptions went on past the 60s and 70s. I was adopted in 1982. My mother was unmarried, as simple as that. She was forced into relinquishing me, social services said I needed ‘proper parents’ as I was illegitimate. I know of many adoptees who were adopted in the 1980s for the same reason.

          I am hoping that the UK will have the same type of apology as Australia. I know that has been somewhat healing for the mothers and adoptees, and it would allow society to see that these mothers din’t ‘give up their babies’ for adoption. They were forced. They deserve a voice.

  6. phillimoresarah

    Thanks Julie – I have raised the issue about clearer pathways and access to research for practitioners at one of the recent PLO research meetings in Bristol. I am told there was/is something called the ‘Knowledge Hub’ on line that tried to serve that purpose but no one seemed clear if it was still running.

    I think it is a serious and important ‘gap’ in how the system operates, that those of us in practice do not often share knowledge/info with those in research – or at least that is how I feel!

    If you could point us in the right direction to recent research into child protection issues, that would be great. I did some minor research last year for an article on contact post adoption but what I found seemed to be no later than 2004?

  7. Eeyore Incognito

    I think there may be issues around how far LAs have the resources (and possibly willingness) to keep up to date and for improved service delivery to implement research findings.

    I’m a wider birth family member (no actual harm from our side) and remember very clearly our family being approached to take part in post adoption contact research and feeling entirely relieved and hopeful that someone was finally listening to and sharing concerns we had (LA had been criticised in court by both Judge and GaL around not properly supporting contact).

    However I have no idea whether the research findings were fully taken on board by the LA we were in, whose opinions and commitment to contact were fairly archaic. All I can say is that in the last ten years we have not seen much improvement in their attitude and direct contact has sadly ceased completely. We (possibly foolishly, but not sure what else we could have done) followed their advise to “not to rock the boat and we might find contact increases”.

  8. Sarah Phillimore

    Sorry to hear that Eeyore.

    Would you be interested in writing us a short piece to explain your experiences? It would be good to tie that in with any research that Julie can send our way…

  9. Eeyore Incognito

    I would like to and will have a think about that Sarah. I’ve previously contacted you privately about our situation and I appreciate yours (and others) willingness to listen and aid debate, and I share your hope that solutions might be found as a result.

    However it is very hard and at times feels very raw. As you may remember, our family experienced rather a catalogue of system failings, together with unfortunate circumstances which led to adoption out of family. There is a lot of unresolved hurt, grief and pain associated with not having been able to speak out about our experiences, not only due to fear of identifying the child and being in contempt of court, but also having a negative impact on contact.

    We have been through the complaints system with respect to poor hospital care, and as a result others staying in that ward have received better care. We have given our experiences to research in the hope that others too will benefit. It is an exhausting thing to think about baring it all again. There is always a risk of giving too much emotionally and possibly having false hopes that in doing so we might be able to make positive changes for the child in our case in the future, rather than just retrospectively for others, if that makes sense, and help with some of the healing that is needed for us personally.

    So I have to enter this knowing that others may benefit from our past, and that is a good reason to take part; but that the latter may not, and to do so I have to be fully ok with that and prepared. It might just take a bit longer to get there, that’s all.

    It is also ultimately part of the child’s life story, and although I am somewhat marvelled by the opportunity to share our experiences with experts who are motivated to listen, I am somewhat uncomfortable in doing so on a public forum, even anonymously, and I realise that must sound very negative. (Possibly hence my name!)

  10. Sarah Phillimore

    Of course. It is no part of what we want to do with this site to make others feel uncomfortable or nag them into going over their pain again.

    We are immensely grateful to those who are willing and able to share but respect absolutely those who feel that it is not something they can do at this moment, or indeed ever.

  11. Eeyore Incognito

    Thank you Sarah.

    Just to add, having just read a comment on another thread querying what we know about suicide rates in birth parents, I wonder if this is an area Julia might be able to help provide some info? Not only with respect to possible stats but also with respect to how birth parents might be supported around this. There have already been comments (again on another thread) around the extent of adult mental health knowledge among children’s social workers, and I am inclined also to wonder if this might also relate to suicide risk management.

  12. phillimoresarah

    It is certainly an area worthy of more study and interest. I am only vaguely aware of what support is available for parents post care proceedings – I think sometimes they can talk to the adoption social worker but I am certainly not aware of any consistent or national schemes.

    One of the Bristol Judges advises courts telling parents to contact the Samaritans – I have seen this done very sensitively but sadly I have also seen it done clumsily and it has only served to augment the parents’ distress.

  13. suesspiciousminds

    Hi Sarah

    I did notice the often quoted statistic that 25% of adoptions break down. For once, someone mentioning it linked to the actual research, but it is fairly important to note that this statistic is actually talking about children adopted at an older age – they are, as common sense would tell us, the most difficult children to place. It is pretty bad that there isn’t a good and up to date answer to the question “For a child of 2 or 3 who is adopted, what are the average breakdown rates?”

    On the other side of the coin, there’s some quite interesting research comparing teenage children who were adopted versus teenage children who were long-term fostered, and the outcomes (in terms of stability, achievement, academic performance, children’s reported happiness) are not very different.

    And of course, although you are comparing apples and oranges there, there’s at least a suggestion that further research might be justified into whether a stable long-term foster placement for a child might have more to offer than has historically been thought. (That raises other questions in turn about the fact that our current system doesn’t really have people who are looking to commit to foster one particular child for 12-15 years)

    I think the forced adoption people have a point that if adoption (the most drastic type of placement) is going to be the preferred type for children under 5, that ought to be because there’s very clear evidence that it is the best type and the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, rather than it being dogma. After all, we are only a few decades away from the notion that it was best not to tell a child that they were adopted, or that the best time to tell them was when they were adolescents, and that completely closed adoptions were better than ones that had any parental contact. Society, and our ideas and understanding about what is best for children does change, and we need to be open-minded if the evidence points away from our status quo.

    [I think evidentially, at present, it is not clear enough whether long-term fostering would be better, but I think that it is a question that is well worth asking, because the stakes for children are so high]

    1. phillimoresarah

      I agree! I kept being told the breakdown rate was 25% but it is hard to find out where that comes from. I agree we need much more debate about what really works for children – at the moment I suspect it is ‘easier’ to promote adoption as the panacea because then the child becomes part of a family who hopefully will advocate for the child and support him/her more effectively than the State ever could. But of course, outcomes for toddlers need to be looked at separately from outcomes for older children – again, I am always ‘told’ that once a child is 7 adoption is virtually impossible because it is unlikely to ‘take’. I would dearly love to know the research basis for that conclusion, but I am not at all sure what it is.

      If you have any links to research you could send us, that would be great, or even better if you have a spare moment or several and want to write us something…?

  14. Julie

    Hi I’m sorry I didn’t get back to follow up the research point. Now you remind me, I’m not sure what has happened to the Knowledge Hub, have not had anything for a while.

    There is a super looking research conference on 20 march – details here –

    Julie Selwyn is doing research into breakdown rates across England & Wales. Barry Luckock & Karen Broadhurst did a small study on contested adoption. Will try to find it. Yes (whoever said this above) many birth parents feel they cannot consent but do not actively oppose.

  15. Matt Harding

    I was wondering about what happens if the child or children ask to know and/or meet their birth parents before they are 18? Is the decision up to the children, adoptive parents, or the court? I just haven’t heard too much about this scenario.

    1. phillimoresarah

      What has been happening is that older children – say 12 onwards – often just take the decision into their own hands and it can cause a lot of harm to all involved if not handled sensitively. This is one of the consequences of the spread of social networks like Facebook. The book Bubblewrapped Children is a good examination of this issue and the difficulties around it.

    2. Lilka

      It’s the childs decision really, if they can find their birth parents, they can do what they like. My (adopted) 17 year old started meeting up with her birth mum/other mum very regularly last year when she was 16, and I certainly didn’t have any say in it, which is difficult because their reunion has done more harm than good to my/our daughter. My role is “person who stands helplessly by, trying to be supportive whilst dealing with the fallout, and picking up the pieces whenever anything goes wrong”.

      The thing is, if she had been younger, I STILL wouldn’t have had a say. She could have been 13 or 14 and still, it’s her decision. I mean, as a parent you can attempt to ground a child and not allow them out, or take away their internet access, but how likely is that to actually solve anything, or even succeed in the first place? It might with some children, but some children will literally climb out of the windows.

      Unfortunately, this is actually pretty common now. As Sarah says, Facebook and all the other social networking platforms are largely responsible for this, providing a way to track people. I also highly recommend the book “Bubble Wrapped Children” (Helen Oakwater).

      I know a few families in this position, and “know” quite a few more online as well. Sometimes it can be handled okay, and sometimes it’s a disaster which breaks up the family and winds up in the child leaving their adoptive parents and ending up living in care (or moving back in with their birth parents). I’m talking children as young as 12 here. I know a family whose daughter (under 16) kept visiting her birth family and staying overnight, and one of the reasons for original removal was sexual abuse. Guess what ended up happening again? And yet, she kept going back. So her adoptive parents sat helplessly and powerlessly by while their teenage daughter was abused again. That daughter is an adult now, barely ever contacts her birth family and everyone is still picking up the pieces. It’s just horrible.

      I remember this case (Daily Mail) – note that it says both girls left and moved back to live with their birth family, and the younger girl was only 12 years old at the time.

  16. Matt Harding

    Another grey area I was wondering about. Whenever I go to the doctor’s office I have to fill out forms which include questions on family medical issues. I was wondering what the option is for nc adopted children when it comes to knowing their family medical history? With the data protection act wouldn’t the birth parents have to approve releasing their medical records? On one hand the child should know what might run in their family, yet on the other with the birth parents released from any parental responsibilities they would not be required to divulge such info.

  17. Sarah Phillimore

    I would hope that any significant medical information is made known to the child as part of their life story work or to the adoptive parents as part of the adoption process. A risk of a serious inherited condition is obviously something that needs to be known about. But apart from that, I as understand it, the adoption order makes the child legally the child of the adoptive parents and removes the status of the birth parents so the adopted child would have no right of access to their records.

    1. helensparkles

      it is rare that birth parents refuse consent to access to medical records which gives family background. The medical info would only go in life story work if it is an ongoing issue that needs to be managed, life story work is child centred, so you wouldn’t miss out an important bit of their story but it wouldn’t give full medicalised info. Adopters have to have a medical consult before matching panel which is an NHS consultant going through all medical info re child and family + potential impact/future outcomes. I’ve also known a geneticist offer to talk to adopters so they could assess if they could manage that genetic condition. Medical info will be in the CPR (Child Permanency Report) and panel should be checking (a medical advisor is on panel) that they are aware of all they need to be. I realised someone will probably say this isn’t what happened for them or they weren’t given the information they needed, that obviously shouldn’t happen. What the LA can’t do is predict the future, some medical issues like FAS bypass some children completely, and nobody knows why.

  18. Eeyore Incognito

    “I would hope that any significant medical information is made known to the child as part of their life story work or to the adoptive parents as part of the adoption process.”

    Yes it would seem to be the right area for this information to be passed on, but from experience I’m not sure how reliable or variable from area to area, life story work is. This is an area which is just a bit too woolly for me. What about conditions which might not be diagnosed until some years after an adoption such as cancer, glaucoma or diabetes etc? As far as I ‘m aware, life story work is hugely simplified and something done at the beginning of the adoption to map the child’s life to that point, and can’t be altered or revisited. I’d be happy to be corrected.

    What if life story work is not very good or even correct? Are there not issues around what information is passed on to adoptive families? I think there was a Radio 4 program on this not long ago, but didn’t catch it.

  19. Sarah Phillimore

    The quality of information in life story work also often depends on how co-operative the birth family is willing or able to be – I have known families for example who refused to give any photographs, which is sad. Any serious medical conditions will hopefully be flagged up at an early stage but I am sure there is much which will be unknown. But the need for a child to have a stable home as soon as possible presumably outweighs in nearly every case the need to have very up to date and firm information about medical conditions which may or may not cause problems in the future.

    1. Matt Harding

      I’m not making an argument against adoption, just wondering how some of the more nebulous concepts of problems that may arise in such a situation.

  20. Stephen

    The reality is that the children need to know the accurate version of their life story by the time they are 11, if not earlier. How this should be explained to a 4 year old is going to be different from a a 6 year old, from a 10 year old, from a 15 year old, and so on. Do not rose it up, or cover up all the abuse or difficult circumstances that lead to the adoption in the first place. They need to know which relatives are safe to contact and visit and which are not, and why. Contact with low risk relatives and siblings should remain throughout the entire childhood. This way, one will not be cut off from the relatives the child still wants a relationship with, if their previous relationship has been good and positive. For higher risk relatives, it may be possible to cut of their contact partially till about age 11 or so. However, that anonymity level may wane as the child’s levels of the following increase:

    * Vocabulary
    * Computer and Technical Knowledge
    * Ability to remember information from their past (including the names of their previous relatives)
    * Creating media presence (Internet, film, radio, TV, etc)
    * Rebelliousness

    Even changing the child’s names doesn’t prevent the birth parent from finding them. All they may have to do is to search for the name of a known childhood friend of the son or daughter they gave up for adoption who is not adopted, look in their friends list and they recognize their picture. This alone may be enough to find their new name.

    Today, the reality is that adoptive parents are going to have to accept the reality that adoptions (even those from foster care) are going to be the open type today, and will have to accept that contact arrangements could change over time during childhood, there is no way to guarantee a 0% of birth family contact or visitation during childhood anymore. As the Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute study, “Untangling the Web” says, agreements that cut off all contact till 18 should not be made anymore.

    That being said, social workers still have a role and can help children understand their life story and tell children that “if contact with a former relative is important to you during childhood, we can discuss ways to make that happen in a safe way that will be beneficial to you”. Such contact could include letterbox, telephone, online, or face to face. Social workers also may need to assist when self initiated unmediated contact happens to, such as a child taking it into their own hands and finding the contact of a birth relative.

    Adoptive parents need to understand that once one’s contact info (such as phone number, address, e-mail, social media, etc) enters the child’s long term memory, trying to cut it off could be futitle and the child will likely win the battle due to the fact he/she knows their contact info and can take it into their own hands to have a relationship anyway. The more information that is exchanged the harder this is to unpick, and chances are the child you will not get his/her secret surname anonymity back real easy, if ever. Again, you will also have to deal with the fact that the computer knowledge level of an average teenager is far closer to that of a young adult that of an infant and that will only increase as they age.

    Adopted children and adoptive parents need to realize the controls they have when post-adoption contact is made and it isn’t turning out well for the child. Such options can include blocking the abusive relative, changing the child’s phone number or e-mail, closing their social networking profile, getting a restraining order, moving, and more.

    There are some tactics that can be used to mitigate the risk of higher risk relatives but still allow some contact. For example, asking to meet in a public place where the adoptive parent or a social worker is there to supervise the child. For example, it is hard to get away with sexual assault, kidnapping, or child abuse if they meet their birth relative who is a sex offender in a restaurant when it is busy and everyone would witness it, during broad daylight, and the adoptive mother is right there next to them.

    For low risk relatives and siblings, it might be better to agree to occasional visits, invite them to a movie or dinner periodically, and the like and treat them as distant relatives.

    Overall, the post-adoption contact reality is now a different model than the previous cut-off till 18 model but we have to realize that open adoption can work out if done right, and overall one needs a contact arrangement that the CHILD is comfortable with and gets to see the relatives he/she still wants a relationship with in a safe manner.


    Newborn babies are taken for risk of emotional abuse and then adopted,,family courts are prejudiced against parents (L.J Thorpe said so !) Parents cannot call witnesses,are forbiden to call their children to contradict guardians to say they do in fact want to see their parents and were never ill treated,”Sanctuary “offer social workers £250 per referral,the national fostering agency founded some years ago by two social workers was recently sold for £130 million+,any unexplained injury is blamed on parents “one strike and you are out” and children are adopted when no pattern of previous injuries has been established,.Nobody alleges conspiracy,but “birds of a feather (social workers,guardians,court experts,judges,lawyers etc) flock together ! Or,put another way ,”those who live off the system protect the system !!Just afew thoughts to bring readers back to REALITY…………….

  22. Sarah Phillimore

    Dear Mr Josephs

    For a number of years now, I and the others who contribute to this site have been asking you and your associate Mr Hemming for some – any – evidence to support your very serious assertions.

    Perhaps you would now be willing to provide that evidence?

    If you cannot or will not provide any substance for the allegations you make, then you will understand why any future contributions you make which we deem to be simple scaremongering, will be deleted.

  23. Sarah Phillimore

    I would be particularly interested in evidence to support the assertions that
    A) parents can’t call witnesses – what do you mean?
    B) children are forbidden to contradict Guardians – nonsense.
    C) what does a fostering agency have to do with ‘forced adoption’?
    D)children are adopted with no pattern of previous injuries – what do you mean? Are you saying that ONLY previous physical attacks justify care proceedings? What are your views on the proposed criminalisation of emotional abuse?
    E) if you are not alleging conspiracy – what do you allege? It’s not clear to me from your last sentence.


      I came across five questions from Sarah Philimore that I would be more than happy to answer:- woul
      A) parents can’t call witnesses – what do you mean?
      B) children are forbidden to contradict Guardians – nonsense.
      C) what does a fostering agency have to do with ‘forced adoption’?
      D)children are adopted with no pattern of previous injuries – what do you mean? Are you saying that ONLY previous physical attacks justify care proceedings? What are your views on the proposed criminalisation of emotional abuse?
      E) if you are not alleging conspiracy – what do you allege? It’s not clear to me from your last sentence.

      A) Time and again parents who wish to call witnesses as to their character,their parenting skills,the love their children have for them (and vice versa),the cleanliness of their home,or witnesses to disprove allegations by social workers are refused by the judge and sometimes by their own legal team urging them not to resist fostering or adoption of their children.
      B)Sarah read what I ACTUALLY WROTE ! I said judges refuse children to give evidence (even when they beg to do so) in case they contradict a guardian who claims they do not want to see their parent(s) even when they do.The pretext is “emotional harm” when in fact the real harm occurs when denying the children their voice in accordance with the UN Convention on children’s rights .
      C)Fostering and adoption agencies make fortunes from payments to them by LAs for recruiting adoptive parents and foster parents.Two social workers who foundedthe national foster agency sold out to the commercial firm “Graphite” for £130+ last year thanks to the system we have of removing children from non criminal parents .The “system” makes them and the other hangers on either a good living or sometimes extortionate profits.
      D)Yes , I DO say “one strike and you are out” must be wrong when it comes to removing children for one unexplained injury (often very superficial).Children like baby p and Daniel Pelka had a pattern of repeated injuries which social workers ignored ,so they were left to die (poor adoption material) whilst happy healthy children are frequently removed for one bruise (excellent adoption material);
      E) Nobody alleged conspiracy when our worthy MPs fiddled their expenses :it was “snouts in the trough” just like the social workers,judges,guardians,experts,fosterers,adoption agencies,special schools,ALL benefit in their own way SNOUTS IN THE TROUGH again ;All these “birds of a feather” are being paid by government funded bodies,and all to varied extents each “bird” feathers its own nest, independently earning a living or enriching themselves from the public purse.Scrapping social workers and family courts thus leaving child cruelty and returning neglect to be dealt with by police and criminal courts would be the best solution;

      1. Sarah Phillimore

        Sorry, you don’t appear to have answered my questions, just repeated what you said initially
        a) parents aren’t allowed to call witnesses – this is just not true, at least not in my experience of 15 years as a lawyer in family courts. Yes, judges may attach less weight to the evidence of family or friends, because these people are less likely to be independent or objective in their views, but I have never known a judge refuse point blank to hear it.
        b) judges refuse to allow children to give evidence. No. this is simply wrong. More and more judges are in fact taking the time to speak directly to children about the proceedings. Children who are competent to instruct their own solicitors can and do.
        c)Fostering and adoption agencies make ‘fortunes’ – they may do. I haven’t studied their accounts. But the problem with this is that you and JH and all the other conspiracy theorists allege that it is the ‘corrupt social workers/local authorities’ who make the money. How are they doing this? By getting paid kick backs from the adoption and fostering agencies? The fact is, that we point out time and time again is that care proceedings and paying for foster care are very, very expensive for a local authority. They have limited budgets. They really do not have an enormous appetite for taking out care proceedings on spurious grounds due to the costs involved.
        d) ‘healthy happy children are frequently removed for one bruise’. No doubt you have some evidence to back up this astonishing assertion, which I utterly reject as contrary to my direct experience over many years.
        e)’all benefit from snouts in the trough’. Again, do tell me how social workers ‘feather their nest’ by having children taken into care. Surely they would rather children were NOT adopted? Because, once adopted the children are the responsibility of their adoptive family and the corrupt evil social workers can’t make any money off that child anymore. And are the police going to do any better job? If you say that social workers have been utterly corrupted by all the money floating around the system, what is going to prevent the police from also removing children on spurious grounds? And if you say the criminal courts and the higher standard of proof will provide the safeguard, how are we going to pay for all the many more courts, judges and juries that will be needed? And given your low opinion of publicly funded lawyers, who is going to defend all these families in the criminal courts? Just how deep are your pockets Ian?

        I am sorry if I seem rude or testy. But 90% of what you talk about and write is unverifiable nonsense which only serves to make frightened and vulnerable people even more frightened. You keep no records of what happens to the children of the families that you fund to leave the jurisdiction. What happens to these children? Do you know or care? Can you tell me who was advising Liane Smith?

        1. gillian

          every word ian speks is accurate to the t. i sought his advice but being and believing the courts i followed the procedure. they did everything mr joeseps said they would do to the word. sorry no one will convice me that is lgal child traffickin, and big business at that disgusting and barbaric.

          1. Sarah Phillimore

            Different judges hearing both threshold and welfare hearings has always been frowned upon. I don’t think this has anything whatsoever to do with Ian Josephs or any other deluded, dangerous person who follows his teachings.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I agree. I wrote an article about this on Pink Tape last year I think. We have to think of a sensible way forward, not just pretend it isn’t happening. Social networking sites have completely changed how we can manage ‘closed’ adoptions.

      1. Stephen


        As Adam Pertman of the Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute said in their study “Untangling the Web”, the era of “Closed Adoption” is over. The internet has made this practice obsolete and hard to enforce. In fact, his study concluded that agreements that cut-off all post-adoption contact should not be made anymore. See this URL:

        There is no way to force 100% cut-off of contact till age 18 in the information age, period. Some children remember their birth parents name or their old surnames. All it takes to find them is a search on Facebook, Google, Bebo, or Linkedin. With friends lists on social networking sites, even a name change doesn’t stop a birth parent from initiating contact. Facebook and other sites don’t have the ability to monitor this. With facial recognition, this problem makes the practice of changing names less likely to hide the child.

        As the result, I think we are going the direction of the child having a big say in terms of the contact level he/she wants with his/her birth relatives and siblings, and the way to control unwanted contact will be using the blocking tools on e-mail and social networking sites. The days of adoption agencies rubber-stamping “letterbox contact till age 18” are essentially over. If the problem is severe, restraining orders can be issued and other more drastic actions can be taken.

        1. Sarah Phillimore

          Thanks, I agree – the internet has changed so many things and some people have yet to catch up with this. Thanks for the link, will check it out.

          1. Stephen

            I also wanted to give a couple of tips for parents if an adopted child under 18 has made contact with birth parents or siblings over social media or e-mail, regardless of which side initiated the contact.

            1) Admit that each others contact info (such as e-mail, phone number, name, surname, etc) is no longer a “court sealed secret” and WILL NEVER BE from this point forward. There is no way of getting totally anonymity back from this point without very drastic action (such as moving, changing your name, and abandoning all friends and acquaintance contacts).

            2) The child will have much more control of his/her contact with his/her birth relatives and siblings from this point forward. This means ability to have online chats, conversations, exchange phone numbers, and even meet face to face. There is no way for social services to censor or directly monitor this. It is best for adoptive parents and his/her social worker to help the adopted children develop these relationships rather than the adopted child doing it in the dark secretly. My first recommendation would be to start by examining Facebook photos and Google searches to see what kind of persons they are. Next, fill in the child’s “life story” and make sure they understand the circumstances of why the adopted child was put up for adoption in the first place. Some adoptive parents might also want to run criminal background checks on the birth family members to know who is safe for the adopted child to visit and who isn’t.

            Then, maybe have some chats indirectly, such as Facebook chat, or phone calls, or Skype. Yo As for re-establishing face to face contact, you might start by allowing visits where the adoptive parents supervise them in public places away from the adopted child’s home. If they are low-risk relatives or siblings, you might allow each other over to visit at their homes occasionally.

            3) Children need to know how to deal with unwanted contact from one or more birth relatives. For one, they should understand the blocking tools of the social media sites they use. Next, they should know how to copy and paste offending or threatening messages to a file (or capture a screen shot), and the like. They should also know that once information has been shared online or posted online, it cannot be taken back. If contact online is become abusive or tragic, other resources besides blocking the person online including getting their parents to issue a restraining order, and having their social workers provide support or counseling to handle difficult situations.

  24. Andrew Tilley

    Post adoption contact should be the norm except in very rare circumstances – else you’re indeed right – it will create massive problems. I wonder if the Websters’ eldest child(ren) will sue. I would not be at all surprised if litigation doesn’t begin in 5-10 years’ time.

  25. andy peacher

    Hi we still have tickets for the forced adoption conference july 25th in london see the website events page or google eventbrite childrenscreaming to be heard

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I would just like to comment that I am utterly amazed that Vicky Haigh is considered a fit person to be included in this line up on July 25th (and Ian Josephs!) So I am very sceptical about the real purpose behind this event, and I urge caution.

      1. Julie

        It would be helpful for anyone thinking about attending such an event to read the original post on this Child Protection Resource website which very carefully explains law and practice.

  26. Pingback: Gregory Smith

  27. dax

    I don’t think adoption is the problem.
    I think final care orders are where the problem is, this then leads to the natural conclusion of adoption.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I don’t understand this comment. A final care order can lead to a variety of different outcomes, from return home to adoption by strangers. A final care order is just the court signing off on its intervention and allowing the LA to put into action its care plan. But there is no ‘natural conclusion’ to adoption – adoption must be the ‘last resort’ ‘when nothing else will do’ so you have to rule out all prospects of return to parents’ care or kinship placements.

  28. Lynn Wheatley

    Our family are distraught we have 2 little boys one 6 the other is 14 months old the older brother adores him, social services are about to split them up the little one going for adoption the end do November and the other little boy going to long term foster. We are a large family who want to look after them ourself, my sister ( grandparent) is trying to be heard but no one is listening social services state the children are under no threat of abuse, the reason is emotional harm, but social services are causing the emotional harm not the family. No one in the family are allowed to see them no one to help us either. Social services will not speak to us either, I am a RGN so are most of a may family how can we cause any harm only to have these children with us not strangers. Social worker told the 6 yrs old you must not cry or you will have a black mark against you are these social workers right, I dont think so! If anyone can help to stop them being taken or Television program that could help please contact me to stop this unfair act going ahead Thankyou for any help.

  29. C

    As Sarah says above, adoption is supposed to be the option of ‘last resort’…. so if you have proof that other options are not being properly considered, (e.g.: your sister) you need to be sure you have good representation to make this clear in court. If that can happen, the adoption shouldn’t go ahead.
    I would suggest – as I do to almost everybody – making a DSAR ( Data Subject Access Request) to the LA for all documentation, including any internal emails relating to your case. Frequently you find mistakes, omissions – and worse – within them, which can be useful in court.

    For info. on DSAR: See
    Have a look at No. 26.

  30. paul brown

    dont realy no were to start but my daugter as been taken from us for no reason atall im much older than my partner but we have never had how lttle girl taken from the hosptal all lies iv brouhth my own kids up no problems in the past how can they be aload to do this just dont no were to turn the judge is as bad as social services we are in england and they r aload to steal your kids

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      Do you have a lawyer? If not, can you get one? The Family Rights Group may be able to help or give some advice – have a look at our links and resources page for parents and families.

  31. C

    Paul: you say your daughter has been taken ‘for no reason at all’ – but they must believe they have a reason, no matter how spurious you consider it. so: the first step has to be to find out what that reason is. Get it in writing. You have the right to DSAR -Data Subject Access Request – all material relating to your case. This link may help http: When you request material, also ask for any recorded conversations, and all internal emails relating to your case. Also you can commence a complaint against Social Services ( see They have to sort it out ‘expeditiously’ – normally within ten working days. Have a meeting with them, and take either a lawyer or a McKenzie friend with you. Keep cool, and get as much paperwork, or statements confirmed and witnessed as you can. Pin them down so you know exactly where you stand. Then you have a better chance of challenging them. If they give as their reason something like ‘future risk of emotional harm’ – force them to be specific, what harm exactly.

  32. C

    Did you say she was taken from the hospital? Have the hospital provided a reason for handing her over? E.g. ‘non accidental injury…’ They cannot simply hand your child over to Social Care without providing a reason. When, and how, were you informed? Was a Section No. quoted?

  33. Maggie Wilkinson


    What I was meeting in the seventies and eighties, was a variety of very severe dissociative disorders. There were mothers who were amnesic for the total experience of having a baby whilst living as a withdrawn inhibited machine complying with their relationships without initiative or good feelings. Sometimes over a decade later they would break though to their personality that existed before the trauma with sudden shock and dismay. Derealisation, numbness, negative schemata about themselves, pervasive experience of hopelessness, poor relationships chosen by others, and lack of positive affects was to be their lot. While such symptoms of these are very common among many of the mothers, when dissociation was a factor, these phenomena were “locked in”.

    Coercive adoption: Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, in the light of 21st Century Research as seen in DSM V
    From Dr Geoff Rickarby Consultant Psychiatrist (Newcastle NSW Australia Nov 2014)

  34. ian josephs

    Babies are taken from parents at birth for “risk” of emotional abuse.How can anyone with an ounce of compassion defend such a crime against humanity? Most parents who contact me say quite truthfully “we are not criminals;we have not broken the law so why have they stolen our children?”
    Parents who have not broken the law should not be punished.Itis as simple as that ! We have laws in UK and those who break the law are quite rightly punished.Since capital punishment was abolished ,even the President of the family court staed that the wost punishment that any court can now inflict is to take children permanently from their parents.
    What is the point of laws if we punish those who do NOT break them?

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      The reasons why are discussed and set out in myriad examples on this site. Wanting to protect children is not ‘a crime against humanity’. If you disagree with the way the system operates, make your case. Don’t waste your time and mine with futile hyperbole.

  35. Clake

    When mistakes are made and no one will hold their hands up and say sorry what of the families destroyed by Social Services. While you may say these conspiracy theories are not true. I can see why people will think they are.
    The medical evidence used was Cherry picked to suit the SS case. The medical experts picked to get the answers they wanted. The SS report so inaccurate one of my student nurses could spot them.that report directed the medical experts thinking. The court appointed guardian DIDNT have enough time with any of our family to make more than a snap judgement. The SS were rude abrupt and obstructive to any requests. No enquiry was undertaken as to why the SS worker responsible for my neice did not ensure a smooth progression through be medical needs, allowing her to develop further brain bleeding undiagnosed as a result of delayed second scans, the result of which was a drainage procedure which nearly killed my neice becuase she was sent home and over night deteriorated so badly needed to be rushed back to hospital and within 24 hours of the procedure was back on a ventilator. The family court went onto a criminal one where the same pathetic rubbish was used against them. The fact not one of those involved in any of the legal teams including the judges understood what the ramifications of the missing evidence could have been is frightening. Again basic physio pathology states they could not make findings With what they had. Anyone who says the system is not broken is deluded. My brother and his girlfriend sent to prison. I really do think there should be redress for families where SS get it so wrong. Yet they are covered in Teflon, mud never sticks to these people. Even if proven innocent, the family’s will be stigmatised and continue to be abused by the SS sytem forevermore by the ‘No smoke without Fire’ brigade. The state of social services is a shambles
    as is the NHs who caused and misdiagnosed all the injuries my neice suffered.
    I find the comments above in the main disappointing and missing the point of those who thing that any of the conspiracy theories are true. I will never trust a SS worker again EVER. Luckily I can choose not to work ‘with’ them

  36. Pearl

    I think anybody defending the current child protection needs to have themselves and children put through it from start to finish, from the first unexpected knock at the door! I assure you it will change your opinion forever….the only people who defend it haven’t been through it…. Strange that!

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I know a lot of people who have been through it are critical. But I also know people who have been through it who are not. Talking in such absolutes isn’t real and it is rarely helpful.

  37. linda lambourne

    We have had our grandchildren taken due to lies and false accusations in all local authorities statements and reports and as we dared to complained and subnitted conflicts of interest we have 2 grandcildren in care and 1 adopted these people local authority are nothing more than criminals and taking innocent children from innocent families due to all above this is a national scandal

    1. Anon

      Being a Grandmother caught up in the same situation as yours, not only caught up, but blamed for injuries my Grandson did not have, to cover-up birth injury my Grandson suffered at birth, at the same hospital the accussations came from, then losing him by illegal adoption case, I well understand how you feel, but I have spent years awaiting our day of justice, which we were asked to do by a judge involved in my Grandsons case, that time has finally arrived, now we are being passed from Judge to Judge and court to court with all the written evidence to prove our case, as a family we feel like THE POISON CHALICE, No body wants to drink from, or touch, with an added statement, I had nothing to do with this case brought against your family, what can we now do?

  38. Lisa Muggeridge

    Thanks for this. Am writing a piece on adoptions, as a parental advocate and ex social worker I am alarmed by some of what I am seeing at the moment. One of the difficulties is that there is no conspiracy and there are few villains to this piece, just crumbling services, legal frameworks which unintentionally create a problem, problems with interpretation of intergenerational abuse and a whole myriad of things coming together. Its very difficult to find level headed commentary, because those really affected do believe it is a conspiracy and its fair for them to do so. Thanks for the post, it was really interesting.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      Thanks for your comment – a pretty fair precis of what is going on. My biggest gripe is that the constant focus on deliberate ‘evil’ and conspiracy makes it impossible to sensibly debate what I think is really going wrong.

  39. Jean

    This article gives nothing but false hopes to those caught in the web of child care proceedings. Although there are honest social workers out there, the foster and adoption industries depend on their commodities to afford payments of £700 a week. My daughter fell pregnant at 15. She was, like many teenagers, very difficult at the time as well as incredibly naïve and was easily influenced by the totally wrong kind of peers. It got to the point, the most viable solution to cut these influences off was to voluntarily place her in foster care. She had a good social worker and by the time the her little girl was born, she was praised all round as a good and caring mum. The social worker eventually got approval from his managers to allow my daughter and her child to return home. I had effected all the preparations to have a new baby in the house and reduced my job as a full time primary school teacher to part time. The news did not go down well with the foster parent and HER social worker, who in the span of 24 hours went from highly praising my daughter for being a good mother to her putting the baby at risk by breastfeeding her in bed and demanded – against the Health Visitor et al advice – that she should stop breastfeeding at once. Her refusal to followed this order escalated into open hostility and bullying from these two women who openly stated to both my daughter and I that they had people in high places and would make sure the baby would be taken away from my daughter. My daughter’s social worker was promptly removed from the case and replaced with a scornful and vitriolic troll whose only objective for her visits appeared to be to insult me and drive the knife in deeper. While there was still time and no court proceedings, my daughter took off with the baby and went to stay with relatives in Ireland. As you can imagine, hell broke loose, orders of various types were issued and as soon as I got wind of her whereabouts I had two choices: tell where she was with the obvious consequences or follow her. I opted for the latter, took them both to a local GP and went straight to the local social services with them and told them the whole story, asking for a full assessment. When I came to read the affidavit made to the court, all I could see was a catalogue of lame excuses and plain fabrications out of thin air on our past and character. Failing to find anything on our criminal check, a social worker I never even met wrote that at the age of 12 I was allegedly raped by my now husband. It was obvious that this person didn’t have a clue about me, because if she had, she would have known that in the country I come from it is possible to obtain a family certificate for every year of residence, stating address and family members a minor lived with. I ordered for a copy immediately and reported the whole affair to my embassy in Ireland which as the Irish social workers demanded an immediate clarification of the grounds on which British social services sought to extradite us under the Hague convention and separate the baby from her mother. Meanwhile, we found a valid solicitor in the UK, who obtain the judge’s permission to have a full disclosure of all documentation from GP, Health Visitor and SS minutes of the entire time my daughter was in foster care. We stayed put in Ireland and the case went ahead to the High Court in our absence but not without masses of evidence for the judge. The judge adjourned and ordered social services to bring their evidence to the next hearing and guess what? They had not a scrap but their lurid false allegations. Moral of the story, we won the case.
    So, excuse me for telling you out straight I could have given John Hemming his own advice and may I add: you can’t afford to wait around. If you’re innocent and you know you’re being targeted because your newborn baby is some foster/adoption agency’s coveted commodity services, remember that the chance to keep your children is to put uncorrupted evidence in front of a judge. Thwarted social workers – some are a total disgrace – deliberately sex up their reports to induce shame and preventing you from speaking out without sounding like a conspiracy oddball. If you really want to show them what scumbags they really are, you need to let the independent professionals make their own enquiries and come to their own conclusions. You know that nobody with the slight sense of integrity and a genuine interest in what is best for a child would dream up such devious fabrications to snatch a child from his natural parents, no matter what pressure to meet targets. People who act sincerely, do not behave cruelly nor they need to lie. Greedy people,however, do. Fostering and adoption are a corporate business under public service contract, same as agencies that provide supply teachers for schools. Most of what I have read on this webpage could have been written by the wolf dressed as Red Riding Hood’s grandma. If after reading this, like me, you can still smell the wolf, you’re not being paranoid. What you suspect is exactly what it is.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I am sorry you have had such a bad experience.

      But I did not write this to offer ‘false hope’. I wrote it to try and explain what I think is really going on when cases go wrong. I don’t think they go wrong because children are being stolen to order for paedophile gangs for e.g. I am pretty sure they are not ‘stolen’ for cash bonuses.

      I am very sure that things go wrong in many cases and inaccurate and unhelpful reports get submitted. The reasons for this have a lot more to do with defensive work practices, overloading social workers and poor management.

      either way, we need to improve the system. Luckily for you the courts did their job, reviewed the evidence and found it unacceptable. We need to focus on how we stop these kind of cases getting to court in the first place.

  40. Kate Wells

    It sounds like you and your daughter have been through a very harrowing time Jean, and am sure you must be relieved at the outcome. However I really don’t understand your comments in your final para: “you can’t afford to wait around: if you’re innocent and you know you’re being targeted because your newborn baby is some coveted foster/adoption agencies services……….” Later in that para you say “Foster and Adoption are a corporate business under public service contract, same as the agencies that provide teachers for schools….”

    In your opening para (4th line) you say “The foster and adoption agencies depend on their commodities to afford £700 per week……….” Again I don’t understand this.
    I suspect you may be referring to Independent Fostering Agencies who are set up to recruit, train, and approve foster carers. These agencies then do indeed “sell” their families to LAs – probably in excess of the £700 per week that you mention. LAs only “buy” these families/placements when they have to place a child and there are no LA foster carers available. Obviously there are enormous cost implications for LAs especially now that they are struggling with massively depleted budgets. Foster carers fostering for IFAs get paid more than LA foster carers, and additional services for the child are “costed in” and the LA have to pick up the bill of course. I think the important point here is that these IFAs are ONLY in business in relation to FOSTERING and NOT ADOPTION.
    I think IJosephs gets confused on this issue too.
    There are strict rules governing Adoption Agencies and ONLY Local Authority Adoption Services are legally entitled to be an Adoption Agency. Some of the voluntary organisations e.g. Barnardoes and NSPCC/Action for Children/Coram etc are able to recruit, train and approve adopters in the way that IFAs approve foster carers BUT the difference is that they are NOT businesses in the way that IFAs are, though there will be a charge to a LA if one of the approved adopters is used by a LA for a specific child. I honestly don’t know what the charge is these days, but it will be a nominal fee, to cover the cost of the work carried out in recruiting, training and approving the prospective adopters. Often the voluntary organisations will recruit adopters for a specific need e.g. children with disabilities, or Black, Asian and other minority ethnic groups (BAME)
    There is an important distinction between the private sector operating in terms of FOSTER-CARE and making handsome profits, depleting the budgets of LAs still further, and the way in which ADOPTERS are recruited, trained and approved by primarily LAs (NO PROFIT ELEMENT WHATSOEVER) and the voluntary organisations who are able to “supply” adopters to LAs in some cases, but certainly NOT for any PROFIT element.

  41. angelo granda

    Sarah, You continually say that there is a ‘conspiracy theory’ and that you don’t believe it.
    What evidence do you have ?

    In actual fact, there is no co-ordinated or irresponsible conspiracy theory at all.

    The conspiracy is not theory. It is a fact that social workers conspire to pervert the course of justice in many,many cases. Furthermore there is a plethora of ‘clear evidence’ which shows it. Thousands of parents will testify to it. Their statements are the evidence you ask for.We shouldn’t ignore it.

    One of the criteria on which we can judge the humanity of a nation (indeed its whole ethos) is the amount of respect it shows the common man. Our family courts lack it, alas. Parents evidence is usually discounted for two reasons.
    1.They are not ‘professional’ witnesses.
    2. Any disagreements they have constitute non-cooperation with the authorities and ‘defensiveness.

    Yet parents are the only ones with an overall knowledge of occurrences. Barristers certainly don’t know what has or is occurring behind the scenes and should not think they do or make pronouncements.They only see the official face of social workers.

    I would say that , given the secrecy attached to proceedings and the failure to keep minutes, only those who have been involved in child-protections from start to finish can make fair pronouncements. This is not a criticism of you or any barrister , simply a request that more respect be paid to parents evidence. We should also show both Ian Josephs and Mr.Hemming a tad more respect.

    In a nutshell were lawyers and courts to heed the voice of the common man, there would be less injustice. Allegations should not be dismissed as wild ‘ theories’. The facts should be investigated fully and all evidence respected.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I stongly disagree. The ‘conspiracy theory’ has been promulgated by John Hemming since at least 2007, he has been enthusiastically supported by Ian Josephs, Sue Reid, Christopher Booker, Sabine Mcneill and a number of others, some more influential and cogent than others. Just spend five minutes a day on various Facebook Groups – as I have now since July 2014 – and the contuning grip of the Conspiracy Theory is depressingly clear.

      I think these people have done enormous damage to a lot of vulnerable people, some of whom have contacted me directly. They were encouraged to leave the country or not to co-operate with social workers, as they were told their children would be stolen for cash bonus payments. Clients have said this directly to me in court proceedings. There is an inevitable and fatal impact on their cases following those kind of conversations.

    2. Sarah Phillimore

      Sorry, missed your sentence ‘we should show both Ian Josephs and Mr Hemming a tad more respect’.

      Respect is earned, not accorded as of right. I give both these men precisely the degree of respect they have earned from me.

  42. angelo granda

    Thanks for replying and informing me about the recent changes. I certainly advise all parents to co-operate with the authorities to the best of their ability and I believe most do. Unfortunately. in many cases ,the CS fail to reciprocate and conduct cases properly.

    I respect everyone’s right to an opinion and and give them all respect even when I disagree.

    Are you citing the parents who have followed the advice of Ian Josephs and John Hemming then complained to you as evidence of a ‘conspiracy theory’?
    I don’t believe there is such a theory.

    That aside, have any complained to you that the CS have conspired to give false evidence and failed to follow legal guidelines.

    I fully respect your right to air your views on forums such as this one but I wish that all barristers and children’s legal panel solicitors were clear about their role when acting for parents. They are there to ensure justice and fair hearings not to cooperate with the CS.

    When cases are conducted wrongly and procedures ignored, the very essence of fairness and impartiality ( as laid down by the Children’s Act.

    Would you agree with me that all lawyers involved ( representing all the parties) should ‘ ‘ know there place’ ,as it were, and inform the court when the CS fail in their duties?

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      It is not only my duty but my pleasure to inform the court when the LA fails in its duty. When I act for parents, that is my job. To test the evidence and to cross examine witnesses.

      Yet I keep reading on line in many different places, that I am nothing but a ‘legal aid loser’ in the pockets of the LA and dependent on their good will to get paid! This is repeatedly claimed by all the adherents to the conspiracy theory which you claim does not exist. All I can suggest is that you go back and re-read the Forced Adoption post and John Hemming’s web site. I am baffled as to why you deny such Theorists exist – its a bit like standing naked in a rainstorm but claiming that you aren’t getting wet.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I don’t agree with that for a moment. And I would have thought the recent slew of furious judgments show that the courts are very alert to lazy or sloppy case presentation. Things can go very wrong indeed but the courts are quick to put them right (they can’t always I accept). So I don’t accept ‘the very essence of a fair hearing is denied’. That to me sound like you are sailing into the waters of the Conspiracy Theory – which you don’t accept exists…

  43. angelo granda

    Please note I am not trying to debate this with you.I have come on to this site to give and ask for help and information..

    I repeat ,I do not believe there is any conspiracy theory however I note that many folk allege that social workers conspire to give false evidence and pervert the course of justice.
    I have asked what evidence you have that there is a conspiracy theory. You appear to be saying that parents who allege any wrongdoing on the part of the authorities are inventing silly theories. I want to believe it thus I have asked you for clarification.

    Could you also say how you know that social work staff don’t get bonuses for taking children into the care system? Do you have inside information?

    Sincerely,I value your advice.Are you saying that when the rules laid out to ensure open-minded and impartial investigations are not followed that we still get a fair hearing? Please explain how that can be so when the Court protocol directs that social worker evidence cannot be disputed?

  44. Pingback: “How to get the best out of your family lawyer” – Guest Post by Sarah Phillimore | Surviving Safeguarding

  45. HelenSparkles

    It might be helpful to know, in respect of adopters who are recruited by the voluntary sector, the cost of completing an assessment is approximately £30k. This includes time to conduct the assessment, training, panel, court reports, supervision etc. It costs everyone this amount but the VAAs need to operate a business model in order to be able to recruit more adopters. This isn’t a nominal amount but it is a more of a subsistence rather than profit making model. LAs will generally be part of an adoption consortium and will use each others adopters, if they are a good match for children, at a lower charge. This is mainly because it is an effective reciprocal arrangement but also because the relationships between LAs can enhance adoption support. There is clearly an agenda to privatise adoption from this government.

    The Fostering agencies are far more of a mixed economy and the Ofsteds you could read in the early days reflect some IFAS were not of a high quality. Because of LA cuts, they are a last resort, and LAs generally train their own carers to provide placements for more complex children. Personally my strategy would be only to use them for very short term/time limited work because they are expensive and I would be ensuring my in house carers can provide long term placements so I’m not spending loads of money on that or moving children because my manager has told me their home costs too much (I hate the word placement) but I am not a service manager! There are a range of provisions from charities with an ideological base to venture capitalists. Foster carers will stay with whatever agency they join as long as support is there, they move because it isn’t, not because of the money.

    Although there is profit to be made in the independent sector, it isn’t as lucrative as some industries. I know some people think carers shouldn’t be paid as much but for those who look after some young people, it would be impossible for them to work outside the home as well, and their skills are usually invaluable. I think the state makes a poor parent, it could do much better, but for some children who are come into care after the age of 10 the antecedents are irreversible and care/carers can only ameliorate the impact. I have also seen lives changed and we mustn’t forget that, young people are great at effecting change in their own lives with the right scaffolding.

    The (adoption) targets the government set are very much based on timescales rather than money. They gave LAs money to move children from care more quickly because there is a sound evidence base to support a view that, if children need to move, they should move young and fast. The stats reflect that they don’t move young generally but those who are moved quickly to adoption done so not because the are more adoptable in so far as they are who adopters want to adopt, but because we know more about the damage of delay. Having said that I really don’t think 26 weeks is enough time and there should be more exemptions such as the FDAC but for other issues, such as parents with LD, DV or MH problems, we love our initials.

    Like many I am a fan of adoption when it is the best opportunity to secure permanency for children who are not safe to remain at home and family members cannot be considered. I think consideration of other systems is interesting, many countries use long term foster carer, so they are not replacing a child’s family of origin. The script would be that you can’t live with your parents because XYZ but this is the family you can grow up with who will keep you safe and secure. I also don’t believe that children ‘languish’ in foster care here, they live with loving families for the most part. There are though massive issues with achieving permanency in foster care in this country and it results in the system re-traumatising children through separation, grief and loss just as when they are removed from home.

    Fostering network have just highlighted the issues for teenagers in care, some of whom will have been in care as littler people, which tends to suggest that the same carers can’t look after traumatised teenagers as younger children. I do understand and work with those young people, and I wouldn’t be a foster carer so have no legs to stand on really, but you wouldn’t think your own children were ok at 6 but not at 13 would you? Well not often and you probably wouldn’t ask them to move out. SW who support FC are key in the ensuring stability for young people.

    The conspiracists irritate and alienate me. That doesn’t mean that I dismiss their underlying concerns but the are cloaked in such an anti SW bias that there is no space for me to engage. I am just shouted down really. Most SW want to change the system, we cheered when Munro was commissioned, and there are pockets of great practice around the country. Overall though, there are a perfect storm of cuts and a culture of managerialism which no enlightened business leader would employ because they know valuing people gets better results. I would never countenance that the system makes SW a victim but there is a reason everyone is leaving to join agencies. We know what the issues are.

    Lastly I would say that I strongly believe everyone deserves the best representation in court just as everyone in the criminal courts deserves the best defence, it serves justice and society well. Good social workers will be up all night writing a court report because they have 5 sets of proceedings in court, but the won’t worry about more than a typo being scrutinised, they welcome it. I don’t attend court but were I a SW giving evidence, I would want the scrutiny of a good lawyer and judge, I don’t want someone to grant me an order because the case warrants it. I sat on a duty desk for years placing children with carers and there wasn’t a case in proceedings that I would have left children at home on and I am with Sir Mark Hedley and similar judges on the vagaries (not sure if that is the right word) of family life.

  46. Mike Barker MBE

    You have used the wrong WordPress option to link this comment box, as it shows the code underneath.

    The Family Courts as I brought to your attention are illegal in that Parents are punished by their children being taken into care without the burden of proof they are deemed innocent until proven guilty that is also libellous and defamation of their characters.
    In addition hearsay evidence is accepted without being backed by proof of fact in most cases.

    The opinion of a single child psychiatrist is sufficient to condemn these parents that in all other case is not in accordance with the rules of evidence.

    This cosy relationship with Family Court Judges with the SSs has some chance of being broken in the High Court with a Jury sworn to secrecy and any children witnesses video linked to the court room from a side room that does happen anyway. Twelve normal people can see both sides that Judges are not prepared to consider objectively.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I reject your assertion that ‘hearsay evidence is accepted without being backed by proof of fact in most cases’.

      that is simply untrue.

      Nor is ‘the opinion of a single child psychiatrist sufficient’.

      there is a lot we need to investigate about the child protection system I agree. So let’s not waste our time on nonsense please.

  47. Angelo Granda

    Unfortunately, the allegations made against the CS by so many are so serious and the prevailing culture of ‘cover-ups’ and ‘ misinformation’ within Local Authorities so insiduous that we CANNOT INVESTGATE!

    Furthermore the Police , who have the power to break down the doors, examine paperwork, inspect computer data, grill allegedly dishonest CS staff aggressively, confiscate incriminating evidence and perform all other functions necessary cannot or will not do so.
    They merely refer parents to the LA complaints procedures!

    That is not ‘conspiracy theory’ either- that is usually fact.
    Criminal activities went uninvestigated for years in Rochdale and Rotherham.

    Family courts are not set up to investigate criminal charges; that would be the task of the criminal investigation system and the CPS.

    Only Police Investigations in respect of each complaint or a full Public Enquiry into the general charges can ever get to the real truth.

    We should all call for a Public enquiry!

  48. Angelo Granda

    I have to agree absolutely with Sarah ( and we all should show our benefactor the utmost respect) that the whole ‘ conspiracy theory’ issue gets in the way of constructive debate. We can’t just answer protestors by suggesting they are believers in some crazy theory.

    It is understandable when ordinary citizens use heated language and hyperbole.We are not all trained lawyers! Some of us don’t know what ‘hyperbole’ means.We use common parlance to get over our message and we will sometimes feel it necessary to repeat ourselves.We are not in a Courtroom where the protocol demands summary statements, abridged information and which limits parents to answering questions only.

    Conspiracy ‘theory’ or not conspiracy ‘theory’.That is the question!

    Only a full Public enquiry can provide us with the answer to that one.Let us remove doubt once and for all then we can work on constructive debate.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      Not so sure about that one! Who will chair the public inquiry? How long is it going to take? And what will change afterwards? We have already had the Munro review in 2011 which has simply been sidelined.

      I personally now feel I am very clear about what is going wrong and why. So we need to focus on what can change. There will be a longer article in the August edition of Jordans Family Law about the conclusions drawn from the recent conference organised by the Transparency Project.

      If we can agree to open and honest discussion, steering clear of exaggeration and hyperbole, hopefully when we meet again in 2016 we will have some real solid progress to evaluate and discuss. That’s my aim for the next 12 months in any event and anyone who wants to be part of that is welcome here. I agree that parents are going to find it difficult sometimes to join in the debate as emotions run high. It’s the obligation of the professionals to recognise that and find ways of removing the barriers between us all.

      I hope I usually try to do that – but anyone who just wants to peddle the same tired old hyperbole without genuine engagement will not get a very polite response from me, I am afraid.

      Hopefully I will have a blog post up tomorrow about what I learned at the #Nordic2015 conference in Finland – what seems to work very well there is co-working between parents and social workers and I would be keen to know if that happens in the UK, and if not, why not.

  49. angelo granda

    I have explained already on another thread that it does NOT happen in many cases ( especially s.47 ) and I think Sam will confirm that. Investigations are not open-minded and impartial and the CS take their own decision to remove children without any attempt to follow frameworks regarding Working Together.This has to be because they have illegitimate aims contrary to the spirit of the statute!
    What other reason could there be for flouting the legal guidelines?

  50. Sarah Phillimore

    I have given several reasons, expanded upon at length in the post above.

    Behaviour doesn’t have to be for ‘illegitimate aims’ to be wrong or stupid or harmful. The tragedy is – it can often be for the most laudable of aims but have horrible consequences.

    But I appreciate it’s more exciting and sexy if you assert there is some grand cabal of SW in conspiracy.

  51. angelo granda

    It’s quite basic really, in my opinion.

    The legitimate aim would be for the CS to work together with families to keep families together ( see Children’s Act)

    In any case when the CS don’t make any attempt to work with families and only present evidence to support its own decision to remove children, its aims are in direct opposition to the Children’s Act thus illegitimate.

    It appears to me, with respect, that you are overly preoccupied with conspiracy theories to the point of distraction. I have not suggested any such thing and I would say I haven’t tried to sex any of my posts up.

    So why do you continually bring conspiracies and now grand cabals up? I had thought the chasm was narrowing but ………….

  52. Sarah Phillimore

    I responded as I did because you said:

    “This has to be because they have illegitimate aims contrary to the spirit of the statute! What other reason could there be for flouting the legal guidelines? ”

    Which to me read clearly as a suggestion that there was some deliberate corruption afoot.

  53. angelo granda

    I hear what you say and regret it if anyone took the wrong inference.
    When the CS flout the guidelines , it may have illegitimate aims because it is deliberately corrupting cases, I suppose but it is more likely that its social workers have illegitimate aims because they misunderstand their duties through either incompetence , poor training, exaggerated fears for children, inability to discern between significant harm and insignificant etc ; they do not conduct case enquiries properly period when, for example, they don’t involve parents in the process.
    Whatever the reason and no matter how laudable their intentions they cause ACTUAL HARM to children when they remove children from their families unnecessarily. Also when they don’t remove children who are in real danger.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      As I have said, I don’t think we are actually in disagreement over much. I am sorry if I am over sensitive to allegations of conspiracy/corruption but I am sure you can understand my position when you read some of the comments on this blog and elsewhere from posters far less measured than yourself.

  54. angelo granda

    I am sure everybody will join me and wish you ‘Good luck in your work’.

    So ,I leave you with these thoughts. Without a full and comprehensive criminal investigation,it cannot be said whether ‘conspiracy’ allegations are fact or theory.

    There is no point in arguing about it on a forum like this. The matter only gets in the way of constructive debate. We should never, however , underestimate the depth of feeling of those who come to the forum as victims of an oft dysfunctional system particularly when they have not been permitted to participate in assessments and have their voices heard.We should respect their views, advise them to address criminal allegations to the Police and then leave it at that. It is inevitable that, from time to time, more people will make allegations. If the moderators take a neutral stance and point them in the right direction,then the Police will have to investigate eventually, as in Rochdale and Rotherham.

    Meanwhile, we should bear in mind that whether or not they are deliberately perverting the course of justice, social workers ‘conspire’ to do so when they fail to follow legal guidelines and procedures. For example, when they fail to talk to parents in a genuine effort to establish facts, they have no choice but to speculate.Thus cases are ‘corrupted’ often from the outset. It is unlikely that a social worker would ignore basic procedures by mistake; it may , however, be genuine oversight. Whichever the case, we should accept that correct procedures should be followed scrupuously in ‘serious’ cases where removal is to be considered. If not, respondents should appeal to the District Judge ( High Court) immediately. Lawyers should examine procedures as a matter of course and challenge Local Authorities when appropriate.

    Finally, you should accept that whatever reforms are introduced, the potential for cases to be ‘corrupted’ will remain.Families will still be entitled to expect a fair hearing and as before, that will depend on correct procedure.

    Please will you discuss with your colleagues whether anything can be done to help existing victims. Their should be an automatic right to an independent review, followed , if appropriate, by a right of appeal ( with legal funding). We should reeunite wronged families!

  55. Sam

    I think Angelo has a point. He is however more optimistic than I am than the police actually taking any action. The police are often part of the problem as in Oxford and Rotherham.Rotherham. There is no doubt that some policemen actually do lie and cover up.

  56. Sarah Phillimore

    Yes, I agree he has a point.

    However we need to look at both righting historical wrongs AND trying to develop a fairer and more transparent system otherwise all we will ever do is try to put out fires that should not have been started in the first place.

  57. Pingback: When can the court agree adoption is necessary ? | L8in

  58. Pingback: A lie can get round the world before the truth has put its boots on | The Transparency Project

  59. Pingback: “A lie can get round the world before the truth has put its boots on”, the reporting of ‘forced adoptions’ – Sarah Phillimore | Inforrm's Blog

  60. Pingback: Forced Adoption: We need to talk about this | Child Protection Resource

  61. Lucy loo

    Ss judges caffcass are all the same spineless corrupt evil bas***ds [REDACTED. You are entitled to your views, but these views will not be published on this site if they are expressed in this way. I can see that you are clearly very upset and you may well have very good reason to be. I am sorry for that. But this site is not the place for the kind of views and language you are using. There are many other internet sites where you will be able to talk about this with like minded people. For reasons which I hope I have explained, the CPR is not one of them].

  62. Pingback: Lies, damn lies and statistics | The Transparency Project

  63. radmila

    It is amazing that more and more children are been taken away from their families and put up for adoption or put in fosterhomes , I can not believe that abusive families are on the rise, I cannot even believe that all these kids are been abused by their families, actually I know for a fact that most of them arn’t. If there was no money in this industry, we wouldn’t have this currupt industry.
    Lets face it, perants love their kids more then anything. An epedemic of abusive perants simply does’nt exist but greed and curruption certainly does and it is at our childrens expense and at the expense of their families.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      How do you ‘know for a fact’ that ‘most’ children are not abused by their families? I am not having a go at you, I am genuinely interested as to how you have this knowledge.

  64. Liza Mullan

    I need urgent help regarding my situation that has been dealt wrongly and unfairly!! I’ll take any advice/help

    my number [redacted]

  65. Pingback: Adoption Statistics | Child Protection Resource

  66. Pingback: The woeful state of our debate about child protection, Part II | Child Protection Resource

  67. Jan Loxley Blount

    The most powerful anti adoption book I know is Martin Sixsmith’s PHILOMENA – the true story on which the film of the same name was made – the film is the story of a young working class Irish girl whose son was taken for adoption by wealthy Americans, she spends the rest of her life longing to find her lost son.
    The book is the story of a little boy brought up by wealthy Americans who were not his birth parents. He is given everything he could possibly want or need and is so successful in his education and career that he becomes a key official in Reagan’s White House.
    But Philomena never finds her son, because he dies at the peak of his career, of the effects of AIDS which he caught whilst seeking for thrills, acceptance, self destruction … Anything to cope with the desperate sense of aloneness because of the loss of his mother and his roots.
    We’ve now apologised to those who as children were forcibly transported to Australia. In a few more years we will be apologising to those socially engineered out of their birth families, in the name of over enthusiastic child protection, without considering the alternative of putting in a little bit of support to keep them with their parent or parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Jan Loxley Blount

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      Bit of a leap that her son died because he was having sex to cope with the loss of his mother and his roots? What happened in Philomena was a tragedy but it is a completely different situation to the child protection system of today – Philomena lost her child due to religious and societal bigotry about single mothers.

      Nor do I accept that children are removed ‘without considering’ alternatives of family placements. But I agree that more needs to be done to consider what support can be offered to families.

      1. angelo granda

        I agree that more should be done to help and support families in accordance with the legitimate aims of the Children’s Act which is to protect them against harm from all sources..It recognises that children are not to be forcibly removed into care or for adoption but supported within natural family.It goes against human rights .
        At the same time,the Public does not ignore that sometimes forced adoption may be called for (as voluntary adoption is) in dire cases of child abuse and when ‘nothing else will do’.
        Clearly,in some cases, forced adoption is inescapable but there are several ways to prevent such an extreme.Temporary foster care and family placements are two of them.
        Lawyers, ( in their marble halls) appear to have difficulty accepting that Local Authorities place children for adoption needlessly.
        Others are more sceptical ,indeed many parents accuse them of arrant malpractice.
        I think it would be helpful if the Public could go into family courts and hear the oral evidence themselves.Also they should have access to the documentary evidence.
        Only then will the Public be able to make judgments about proportionality.
        Are their any parents out there willing to publish a redacted copy of their threshold criteria document and/or core-assessment.

  68. Joyce

    I do not understand what a ” redacted copy of their threshold criteria document and /or core-assesment ” means Angelo, my brother who i found in 2007 had his daughter taken under forced adoption,he went as far as the Hague,where he spoke about it and they ruled that every effort should be made to keep the child with the family,sadly this dose not happen, he fought for two years but sadly lost , they were supposed to keep him informed of her etc but of course never did,she is eighteen now ,he was older when she was born and prays that her will see her before its to late, i know he would do anything to help this injustice but is not on the internet.
    He and his wife had to go to a place where they were monitered as parents ( i did not have contact at that time ) he had four children from previouse marriages and continual contact with them, i know of two other cases where children taken needlessly,one was made to see a psychiatrist who then said he was at risk of emotionaly abusing his eleven year old son in the future, i sat in a solicitors office with him,while HIS solicitor hammered him for over a hour going through his file,to the extent my friend. Had to go out and be sick during this time,he was in shock at his son being taken and the solicitor did nothing to help,when he went to his hearing my brother went with him and said they were contravening his human rights to a fair trial as no statement had been produced on his behalf by his solicitor,so it was adjourned to allow for a statement,he was allowed to see his son twice a week then gradually cut down untill now five years on allowed once a month but could not break the bond,he is a loving father and his son loves him,,such a waste,,he was told not to cry in front of his son and had to be careful what he said,would not fight SS as risk loseing what little contact he had,i am not involved with SS in any way but what i have learnt over the years has made me realise why so many innocent people fear the SS and the power they have.

  69. angelo granda

    You mentioned in your post about no statement being produced by the solicitor and the case being adjourned.
    This,in my opinion,is another example of the easy-going,slip-shod attitude taken by Children’s Legal Panel towards correct legal procedure.They pay little respect to the court directions.Dates are set down when statements,assessments,care-plans etc.are to be lodged at court but often the CS file late which makes the whole process unfair contravening articles 6 and 8.
    When the CS file late then parents have to file their responses late.
    The disrespect shown towards time limits is another reason why i recommend that the Family Court should be banned from hearing serious cases.

  70. Pingback: Adoption | School of Law

  71. Andrew Peacher

    Hi slagging our conferences off isnt the way of helping children and families please call me Andy preacher 01444 390270 or Maggie Tuttle 01702 341999 our numbers are all over the net why is not yours.

    We do good honest work helping others we don’t slag off the trolls the truth is out their on our radio shows and our websites its up to people to decide what they do with it or not.

    We both work 12 hours a day every day with no donations no funding at all do you ?


    1. Sarah Phillimore

      No, I am not going to telephone someone who accuses me of ‘slagging off’ your conferences. I have suggested that people find out about who you and Maggie Tuttle associate with. That is perfectly legitimate. Why does it worry you?

      I probably work 5 hours a day with no donations and no funding, so I guess you win that one.

      And no, I am not putting my telephone number on the internet. I have seen what your associates are capable of.

  72. Daniel Thomas

    After reading much of the articles and comments on this site, it is clear the passion individuals have in relation to the issue of forced adoption and of the assertions Ian and John make. Being a parent who has had the misfortune of being involved with LA care proceedings, Irish care proceedings, as well as high court inter jurisdictional proceedings, I can say with complete conviction, although I don’t necessarily agree with all of Ian’s conspiracy theories, that if Ian hadn’t assisted my wife and I, and if his site hadn’t existed alerting us to the real threat of forced adoption and the lunacy of children being taken for frankly unquantifiable potential risk, our daughter would not be looking forward to Christmas day with her Mummy and Daddy, but would have had her identity removed and be with a pair of randomers.

    In late 2009 my future wife and I began a relationship, she had an 9 year old son from a previous abusive relationship. The LA were involved from the getgo, but vanished for around 7 years after my partner ended that relationship. Our relationship began on very rocky and immature grounds, without going into the ins and outs of the situation, police calls were made, allegations were made and the household I must say wasn’t the most tranquil. I believe at this point the LA were notified of disharmony but did not seek to involve us at the time.

    Q-pregnancy – A letter arrived on our door advising us of potential concerns of unborn baby. We agreed we certainly weren’t in a position to care for a child with the state of our relationship, so the helpful NHS assisted. The involvement then ceased. Don’t forget that there is already a child in the household, but the concerns did not appear too great for him.

    2011 came and we’d calmed down, grown up, resolved a lot of our issues and felt in a better position. Q-pregnancy number 2 and… yes you guessed it the LA jumping right back in. Almost immediately they informed us that they felt there was a risk to the unborn baby and that my for me to move out of the family home or they would seek removing the baby at birth. This was due in their words to the risk of potential emotional harm due to our fractured relationship.

    We refused and then began the child protection process involving both children. This process was a complete farce and delayed for around 6 months, whilst now we learned they gathered evidence but the whole time a complete uncertainly to what was happening. This naturally caused my pregnant wife a lot of anxiety and issues with the pregnancy. This situation was taking its toll. Solicitors seemed powerless and told us to do what we were told or loose our baby. We even tried to reason with the LA, they laughed at us.

    On a stay in the hospital due to my wife’s complications, she stumbled across Ians site. At first I thought it was crazy, but then when applying what I felt was a very over the top reaction to now what was historic events I felt moving to Ireland pre birth was the only way.

    Over the sea we went and BLISS – A happy a joyful birth. Naturally the Irish authorities got involved, and were requested by the LA to return us to UK, but the HSE felt that there was no significant risk.

    This bliss however was short lived as the strain, isolation and complete lack of funds/ security in a foreign land proved too much for my wife, and on some ill advice of a friend got assisted by the LA to return to the UK.

    The LA were clear, she was to live in a refuge and have NO contact with me. I of course could have contact with my daughter (Unsupervised) but not her son (bizarrely) , but no family contact. They were then subject to a child protection plan.

    My wife adhered to this agreement for 3 months, until it became unbearable. We were then informed of the LA’s intention to remove the children from our care and seek care orders. Our solicitors advised us that it would be the likely case given our daughter’s age that the LA would be looking for a freeing order once a care order was secured. The LA later confirmed this.

    We was informed this on Friday, my wifes son was staying with a friend who was a social worker, so we left him there whilst we travelled back to Ireland. We informed the LA of this, and advised that they had NO jurisdiction to pursue a care order on our daughter and that were coming for our son.

    An ICO was granted for children, 1 in Ireland and 1 in UK. A subsequent Emergency care order was sought in Ireland for our daughter and our daughter was removed from our care. We then went to the high courts in London and sought to have the ICO in the UK discharged, as we were not present in the UK at the time the order was made and we argued we weren’t habitually resident. To our amazement, the high court judge discharged the UK ICO and suggested we apply for a transfer of our son’s case (in the UK) under article 12 Brussels II to Ireland. Not surprisingly in this instance, the Irish stepped in and this was blocked, but it was indicated that at some point one court or country may need to deal with both.

    By now we are in 2012 and both children are in care. The LA want to proceed asap with her sons care order who now was 13, despite his wishes and feelings to join us. The HSE decided to peruse in the Dublin high courts a transfer of our daughters case to the UK under Brussels II. They obviously had a statutory obligation to conduct assessments whilst our daughter was in care with them, and said that the care process and jurisdictional issue were running in parallel , but the reality was they wanted our daughter dealt with by the UK.

    This was listed, adjourned, adjourned and adjourned, and finally 18 month later after an uncontested care order was granted for my wife’s son, the high court case was dropped and the HSE decided to deal with the case. Our daughter now had to be moved to a potential permanent placement, and had developed attachment issues (or risk of harm) their actual harm!!! Anyway….

    The HSE sought a care order until she was 18, this was fully contested and it was ruled that the HSE hadn’t fully engaged with assessments as they were focused on the high court proceedings, so although it was ruled that due to the evidence provided there is no doubt that there has been no physical harm and any sort of neglect, and that there was no evidence of actual emotional harm, there was risk at this point so a care order was granted August 2014 for 18 months reviewable in 12.

    August 2015, the review date, the HSE made an application to discharge the care order on the grounds “It is the decision and recommendation as a result of the assessment of the professionals involved that the Child should no longer remain in Care and that the child is transitioned home. The Respondents are co-operating with the Applicant and as such there is no requirement for a Supervision Order.”

    Subsequently the LA are now exploring a legal route map to release my wife’s son from care and he’s spending Christmas with us.

    Why do I feel the need to tell you this story? Because it highlights the massive difference in 2 care systems and how this if not delayed happy ending which arguably should never have reached the point it did, could have ended in complete disaster and loss.

    1. The LA in evidence in our daughters care hearing said numerous times that due to our cooperation they were looking at adoption. There is no doubt in my mind this would have happened.

    2. There evidence was based on hearsay. Made yes from both myself and my wife, and on balance of probability at this time there may have been disharmony. The risk I would argue certainly was disproportionate the action the LA wanted to take.

    3. There was as evidenced in court and agreed by both authority NO harm of any sort taken place, and further to that agreed that with both children had suffered significant emotional harm as a result of being in care.

    4. The LA were sneaky, they were not transparent and never attempted to educate or assist us, but instead went behind our back. In my opinion, as we were both not vulnerable, and therefore fairly educated, they took exception by being challenged by us.

    5. In the UK the cases were rushed through, the solicitors from the get go never gave us a chance and told us to lay down and die.

    6. The threshold of potential risk on paper was met so goodbye daughter, we may never see you again.

    7. In Ireland, after being lapdogs and realizing that the LA’s demands to return our daughter was too costly and likely to set a precedent which they would not have liked (one of these article 12 applications to fail), the HSE did their job, and actually did what social work is about. Assessed, supported and reunified (which even in Ireland is very rare)

    This saga clearly states that the care process was completely premature, shouldn’t have happened should the LA have done their job properly and had a caring team, never have sought this action.

    On this basis I commend Ian, John and all the guys who alert parents to some of the horrors of the UK system. Although packaged in a scare mongering way, and some points may not be substantiated, the fact remains that a lot of care proceedings are brought unnecessarily and the prescription of adoption completely disproportionate to the potential risk.

    I say all this with warning; I believe we are one of the very small numbers of cases where actually full term care would not be appropriate. But even in care, I believe a parent has the right to a meaningful relationship with their child. (Sorry in advanced, I haven’t proof read this, but I hope you get the gist)

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I am glad you had a happy ending. I am sorry you found the system so awful.

      But I don’t agree that the way forward is to rely on people like Hemming and Josephs. Their links with people like Sabine McNeill are very worrying. For every 1 person who comes forward and says they have helped, I can probably provide 10 whose cases were absolutely scuppered by their very bad advice.

      I simply don’t agree that ‘a lot’ of care proceedings are bought unnecessarily. You are certainly entitled and competent to discuss your own case and the reasonableness of that, but where do you get the information to support the assertion that ‘a lot’ of other proceedings are baseless? I rely on my experience over 15 years and 100s of cases. Most of them are not merely necessary at the time of issue but should have been issued many years before they actually were.

      But I agree that the push for adoption in England and Wales is a worry.

  73. Daniel Thomas

    On reflection, the term “a lot’, if referring to a proportionate number of the cases brought before the courts, then I agree my assertions are unfounded, however if and I think more accurately referring to too many, should that be a very small proportion of cases, be it 1% or 0.1%, it is still, in my opinion is a lot….

    I work for a very large well-known Computer Company, users may report a specific problem with a software update. Support lines will be inundated; forums full of complaints, resulting in very angry and upset users. This issue of course will be investigated and a resolution sought.

    The fact of the matter is, that even though these issues affected say 5000 people, 45 million other people were not affected; in the grand scheme of things this troubled only a minute amount. The users however have checked the forums, and lots of users are having this issue, the technical support staff are manning the lines and getting lots of the same report, arguably this is affecting a lot of people.

    In the same way Ian receives a lot of calls from parents who believe they are being chased unfairly and some, not all do back this up with documentation etc.
    Agreed, a lot of parents will be looking for an escape route, but in my experience it isn’t an escape route to evade services all together, it certainly wasn’t in my case, but an escape route to avoid your child being adopted. Ian was always clear, ‘they may be taken, but not adopted”

    I do agree that on balance the child protection system does do what it says on the tin, and I agree with you that yes a lot of warranted cases fall through the net or are addressed far too late, but I still think there is a certain amount of people and I can say that as I believe I’m one of them, that the system chased unnecessarily. I back that up with by the fact that after assessments were completed a court in a competent jurisdiction saw no reason for my daughter to be in care.

    I’m not an advocate of avoiding necessary intervention and certainly believe in the states obligation to protect a child, but I just do not accept that how England and Wales goes about it is right. I believe the state also has an obligation to protect the family and protect every persons right to have their own family unless their behavior purposely contradicts family values. Once the child has been protected, I believe the state should pursue every avenue wherever possible to reunify that family ensuring the child remains protected. Only in cases where there is criminal intent I believe in permanent removal from the family (Adoption). Parents that continue to fail to meet the standards required to be responsible of a child for what ever reason, providing the reason is not criminal against the child for example mental illness or addiction, have a right to a meaningful continued relationship with their child and their child a right also.

    Social Services and courts are so pressurized with timescales, they do not get to know the family unit, can misread situations and make rash decisions. On paper threshold can be met, they are great accountants, but these guys aren’t infallible, and with the best intentions in the world can get it wrong. By the time this is realized in England and Wales it can be too late, unlike my case, which was dealt with in Ireland, it is never too late! If the case with the family with the vitamin D deficiency were dealt with in Ireland, they would most defiantly be a family again.

    Ian’s advice to leave the country whilst pregnant is unfortunately outdated and likely to aggravate someone’s case. Words like uncooperative, evasive and unstable are likely to be added to the list of concerns bolstering the likelihood of thresholds being met. Every case where care proceedings are likely to be brought against a pregnant mother in 1 jurisdiction are likely to be transferred back to that jurisdiction. Apart from myself, I know of no successful cases of parents who managed to stay in Ireland once their children had been taking into care. It’s a burden to Ireland and Ireland want rid and that now is the reality. So I will agree this is now bad advice and will scupper chances.

    What is the answer – Reform? Will it happen? – Doubtful! So at the moment those of us who maybe justified in saying that they are being treated unfairly, have to rely on these crusaders who may not have everything right, but certainly have the best intentions to protect a family,

    If I had the facts and was confident that a family was being unfairly treated and was in imminent danger of the family being disbanded, I would not hesitate to look at ways to exploit whatever system was out there to ensure the family was protected. But then there is always a risk.

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I agree with most of what you say. I think some people do get a very unfair deal and they get pursued by officialdom out of all proportion to their original ‘crime’.

      the problem however, and one of the reasons behind this site, is that these legitimate cases of wrong doing are hijacked and morph into ‘most’ or even ‘all’ and you get people like Ian Josephs paying money to people to leave the country without caring what they have done or are capable of doing. It also allows a significant proportion of the 90% who are rightly involved in care proceedings able to minimise the concerns raised against them on the basis that ‘most’ or ‘all’ social workers are evil, care proceedings are baseless etc, etc.

      I completely agree with you that even 1% of care cases going wrong is actually quite a lot of devastated parents and I am certainly not saying that this is acceptable; we need to do what we can to keep this number as low as possible.

      I think reform IS possible. We have to at least try. The next Child Protection Conference organised by the Transparency Project will hopefully be in June next year and we will explicitly be looking at where do we go from here?

      And final point – I don’t think Hemming/Josephs etc are looking out for families. I think their focus is on parents. And sometimes there is a tension between what a parent wants and what a child needs – and I just don’t think they are willing or able to see that.

  74. Christopher Cooke

    HI im 38 yearsI got adopted in 1980. I were born returded and mum and dad rejected as a baby.. I still have loving memories I now know why gave me up. the illness which had. on this day just like to know where if she is still on the earth world?. very gutted was given up .but my own human rights were taken from the humans. never had easy it because my handicapped in life. this day wonder if real mum well, but may i never know in death??? Christopher cooke

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      I am sorry to hear about how sad you are about what happened to you. Sometimes people do things because they are frightened and sometimes they do regret what they have done. Your mum might also be wondering about what happened to you and hoping you are ok. If you want to get more information about your birth family or talk to someone who understands what you are going through, you might find some useful information here

  75. Mrs hoyland

    So why can i have one baby and not the over? After tested and challenge change of circumstance which was up heald by independent physiciatrist cafcass and social services, yet challenged primary attachment after been with perspective adopters for 7months. But I breast fed for 4months from birth lived with me then taken into foster care and I saw him till was 1. Now only 2 and half after appealing through family court for over a year I have been clearer of concern and change in circumstance and I have his younger brother who is 7months surly the justice and family court is wrong. After researching primary attachment it is researched from 1950s that it is about who feeds and cares and plays with the child and how the child responses. My son called me mum he was breast fed he knew who I was and it was the family court who was unsure or experts without researching primary attachments to then make the decision to adopt. Why can i have one without the over!!

    1. helensparkles

      It sounds like you have had one child adopted and are able to keep the other because of changes you have made. The court was able to make a different decision because of you and I hope you are very proud of yourself, change is difficult for all of us.

      Courts take consideration of children’s timescales and I am sorry that the court was not able to make a different decision about your other child. Parents often wonder why changes they have made don’t necessary lead to previous children being returned to their care post adoption but courts make decisions about what is best for that child.

      Attachment is important because a child who has been placed with adopters for some period of time will have formed a new attachment the court would disrupt if they were moved. The court has to balance whether that is better or worse for the child.

      You are right that the primary attachment figure is usually the mother, but it isn’t always (children are brought up by other people for all sorts of reasons). If a mother was not able to meet all of her child’s needs from birth, that attachment may or may not have been formed, even if they were called mum or breast-fed.

      All of that means that the court needed experts to assess your child’s attachment from what I can tell.

  76. looked_after_child

    Hello Helen
    I’m interested to know who would be considered an expert able to assess a child’s attachment in this situation and what do they base their assessment on and how much value the courts place on this experts evidence? Is it called evidence, testimony or opinion or something else?

  77. Angelo Granda

    A parent’s view.
    I have seen expert opinion given to Court in an assessment re-attachment and the psychologist ( a professor) stated quite clearly that any evidence regarding the subject of attachment/ secure or insecure can only be mere speculation in all circumstances. Where autism is concerned, even if it is speculated that a child is not securely attached, that would be due to the autistic traits not to parental care or environmental concerns.
    Attachment theory was originally developed for studies of babies. The only tests available are designed to test attachment of new-borns and children under two-years of age to their mothers e.g. suckling , response to baby-talk etc. It is not really a concept valid when dealing with older children.
    I draw the attention of readers to the quite recent advice to SW’s that they should quit using the word attachment completely and start referring to other more concrete evidence. Let’s hope they take it in.

    1. helensparkles

      “I draw the attention of readers to the quite recent advice to SW’s that they should quit using the word attachment completely and start referring to other more concrete evidence. Let’s hope they take it in.”

      Please provide a link to this advice.


    Social workers Sarah Phillimore your organization of self believe perfect people [EDIT MOSTLY DELETED – again, if you want to post in language that is less inflammatory and insulting, I’ll post it. If you can’t moderate your language, you won’t be published here]

  79. Claire

    I can see this discussion mostly took place two years ago but I’ll still add my 2 cents. I am French, and was living in the UK 5 years ago during my pregnancy and was arguing a lot with my then-boyfriend (now husband). This came to the knowledge of social services, and a social worker tried to maneuver to have my baby taken at birth for risk of emotional abuse. Thankfully, one week before giving birth, I finally understood what the social worker was up to, flee back to my home country and never looked back. I read the report on our family, which was horribly biased and with many lies and mistakes. The mental health assessment report (I had been forced to take) which was very positive had been removed. I was depicted as an isolated, poor abuse victim, the opposite of the successful funny person I’ve always been. They tried in turn to say I have mental health issues or my husband was abusive. Basically, the social worker had decided to remove my child at birth, and was then trying to justify it. And just like that, she had gotten approval. When I see what happens to so many people in Great Britain, I am outraged. How can such a crime against parents (and children) happen? Why do people have no compassion? Sarah, how can you get worked up on arguing whether or not there is a conspiracy theory out there, but only say politely “I’m sorry” to people who have lost their children unjustly because of the issues with family laws? You should be outraged. Something must be done! Like Ian says, people who haven’t commited any crime should not lose their child forever! Can you think of the parents for one minute? My heart is breaking for all the parents who have lost their children to this sometimes ruthless system.
    I know that if my labor had started one week earlier and had my child in the UK, she would have been removed from me straight away. I have no idea how I would have survived something like that

    1. Sarah Phillimore

      If care proceedings had started you would have had legal representation. You lawyer would have insisted that the positive assessment report went in the bundle. What you are describing is a lawless ‘wild west’ where SW just do whatever the hell they want. That simply isn’t true. There is bad practice and there is bad behaviour, but at the end of it you have a court which upholds the rule of law and it is a court that makes decisions, not a social worker.

      I hope i have compassion for all people who are hurting. The parent who loses a child will feel pain. But so too the child who is hurt by their parents. We have to try and strike a balance about who we protect from harm and how. We do not always get the balance right. But I do reject suggestions that the ‘system’ is fundamentally ‘evil’. That is not my experience over many years now.

      1. Angelo Granda

        Thanks for your comment, Claire and I am glad you managed to return home to France in time for the birth of your child. To any other foreign Mum out there who may fall foul of our British system disproportionate to your circumstances, my advice, to you, as an ordinary parent, would be to contact the embassy or consulate and ask for protection.
        Unfortunately, I have to agree with Sarah that there is bad practice and there is bad behaviour but to be honest to a French national ,I cannot agree that the Civil Family Court in Britain upholds the Law. I know of cases where positive assessments, reports and medical facts are excluded from evidence which the CS have a duty to give to Court. This is because any hostile to the LA litigation aims is withheld. There isn’t the correct level of impartiality which we expect from professionals whom we rely on. I have sometimes used the term ‘low- calibre’ when commenting about these professionals and by that I mean the same as they do in the forces. Low calibre means cowardly or timid. They do not have the moral strength to go against LA directives and put their feet down. It is the duty of ‘professionals to be independent and advise the LA not vice-versa . When LA’s act unlawfully , a professional should be absolutely honest with a court and inform it about malpractice and wrong-doing. For example, if there are less-invasive alternatives to removal but the authority will not finance them, the SW should be honest and inform the Guardian and the Judge. If the Judge still decided on removal, the decision would be instantly appealable. If the SW keeps quiet then it is disaster for the child.
        Sarah, much goes on which you know nothing about, evidently. To say that lawyers will insist that positive reports go into the bundle is so wide of the mark. Even if they complain and get the Judge to order the production of documents, it is left to the authorities to present them. Then they can cherry pick those they wish the Court to see without the lawyers knowledge. Plus the missing evidence will already have been omitted from the information given to the expert assessors. Even if it is pointed out to the Judge in final submissions that court orders have been flouted and procedures ignored , the judge can use his very wide judicial discretion to overrule the objection ‘in the best interests of the child’.
        I know that you keep insisting that children get a fair hearing in your experience but please don’t underestimate the bad practice and bad behaviour you talk about. When professionals behave badly and indulge in malpractices, a criminal court would not tolerate it and you should start thinking about radical reforms to the Family Court system.

      2. Winston Smith

        I’m sorry Sara, but it is true, when SW’s come under pressure and around babies to be taken at birth. Also the psychiatric assessments insisted on.

        The family Court judge will approve whatever the LA want.

        1. Sarah Phillimore

          No. It’s not true. The family court judge does not simply approve whatever the LA want. But you are determined that you are right so this is utterly pointless isn’t it?

  80. alan brunwin, childrens author,

    Outline of Evidence and facts against The London Borough of Sutton Council Children’s services corruption; 2011 to 2015;
    2011/12 It was revealed in the national newspaper that social workers where ordered to dish out more dirt on parents to secure children into The London Borough of Sutton councils Local Authority care system, ie ( false statements were made by the London Borough of Sutton authority against parents and their children, these criminal actions by The London borough of Suttons children’s services, I believe were either never investigated by the Police, or even reported to the Metropolitan Police) Published December 11th 2011; Daily and Sunday Express; Social workers ‘sex up abuse claims to snatch children for adoption’
    There seems to have been no Police action against London borough of Sutton, children’s services Chief Executive or his social workers. etc; Early 2012 Children’s executive head of safeguarding and child protection, Mr [NAME REDACTED] had to leave his job because of the criminal actions by his social workers etcIt seems no other staff left Sutton Council children’s services over these criminal acts against parents and their children; Whether these crimes were reported to the Met POLICE at the time , I do not know, but I’m 100% sure, criminal charges should have been brought; After 4 years of extensive investigations into The London Borough of Sutton it has been found they were also using fake social workers to take children into their LA care system; If called for evidence will be provided; from Broken hearts children in care, Facebook;


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