The conversations we need to have about adoption – London performance.

From Bristol to London  –  28th October 2017







Performing, Truth and Talking

On 23rd September 2017 at the Arnolfini in Bristol I will be performing for the very first time a unique ‘ oral performance installation’ that doesn’t involve dry law lectures or angry ranting on Twitter. Neither activity has done much to promote wider and better conversations about the child protection system.

To my sorrow the recent furore over The Times reporting about the Christian child and the Muslim foster carers demonstrates just how dry the well of public debate has become about such important issues.

I am really pleased to say we now have a full house for the performance on on September 23rd – and I am even more pleased to note the majority are NOT my friends or family so presumably they are drawn to the subject matter itself and think that this is worth an hour or two of their lives.

We are also performing the same piece in London on 28th October at The Depot on Upper Clapton Road – again, its free to come but you will need to register for tickets. Please scroll to the end of this post to find all the links for tickets etc.

We have to talk

As I wrote in my first blog about this the aim of the performance was to explore with artist Pamela Neil how we communicate some of the thought and ideas I have around adoption, to reach a wider group of people and starting conversations I think we should be having.

Attempts to broaden debate and understanding often falter because when the debate pushes so many emotional buttons, attempts to make a particular argument often seem to end up being a barrier to communication rather than opening a door to greater understanding and awareness – its not so much the FACTS that win hearts and minds but the FEELINGS they create.
Is it possible therefore to come at this from another angle? Not the dry legal approach which has informed my training and professional life – but trying to shine a light on the issues in another way?
One of the most important benefits of any performance or work of art must be how powerfully complex thoughts and ideas can be communicated to an audience; straight to the heart, rather than draining our interest in a dull legal lecture and PowerPoint.

When I wrote that back in June I had simply no idea how this would work or what I would have to do. I came into the exercise without any preconceptions about what was needed from me. That has proved both a blessing and problem. I simply had no idea just how hard it was to find the story I wanted to tell: to share the thoughts and ideas that were important to me with others, in a way that that provided access to the audience.

I had to free myself from assumptions that OF COURSE my listener understood what I was saying. While I am comfortable with writing, I was naive about what it meant to share thoughts and ideas in an oral form.

Its been a long and hard process – first drawing out what I wanted to say, then turning that into a form of expression that could be communicated orally in a way to engage an audience of people who may not be familiar with the topic.

I think we have now identified what it is I want to say. We now move onto the next phase, finding a way to say it that both works for me and engages the audience, giving them access to my thoughts and ideas, but on their terms.

A frankly terrifying prospect.

Pamela has born this process with remarkable patience, explaining that I can never assume that others know or understand what I am saying – I need to take her by the hand and walk her over to where I want her to stand so she can see what it is that I see. If I am advocating for a change in the way we view adoption by having open, honest and transparent conversations, I need to show her what an open and honest conversation looks like and what changes it can bring.

She has explained that we are creating a unique oral art installation – not a lecture or a speech.

I hope that come September 23rd Pamela and I will have created something that is worth hearing, something that will leave the audience with no doubt that we have to talk.

But whatever happens at either performance, good, bad or indifferent, I know that this has been a profoundly useful process for me and explained a lot about why it is so difficult to communicate, to make others see what you want them to see.

We tend not to take people by the hand either metaphorically or literally. We talk AT them, we talk OVER them we talk ABOUT them. Nobody ever changed their mind by being patronised, belittled or shouted at. It’s easy to forget that each member of an audience will have a different view about what they hear, and therefore what they take away.

We urgently need to start talking about the things that matter and I hope this is going to be a good starting point that may plant some seeds for change in the minds of the audience.

Everything planted is likely to grow.


WHEN              28th October 2017 6.30 – 8.30
WHERE            The Depot, Upper Clapton Street London E5 8BQ
HOW                 Register for tickets here at Eventbrite
MORE INFO?   Download brochure here







2 thoughts on “The conversations we need to have about adoption – London performance.

  1. Angelo Granda


    On a recent thread regarding autistic children , we have discussed and seen extensive research which demonstrates to us all that grave mistakes are made by Family Courts due to systemic malpractices and major errors of judgment made by sundry Child-Protection professionals ( including the use of unqualified medical experts).There is little doubt about this. It is patent that ,despite all the available research, representatives of the Local Authorities who should act in the best interests of children ,are ignoring those interests and confining their reading of research and subsequent assessments solely to any supporting the ILLEGITIMATE AIMS of the authorities concerned. These aims usually mean ignoring the paramount interests as laid down by the Children Act .This is that their welfare concerns are best addressed by allowing them to remain with natural family with support from the CS and other agencies .

    Whist we acknowledge this widespread exploitation of autistic youngsters , we ought also to accept fully that the self-same problem is endemic when the system deals with normal children without disabilities .Of course, discussions as to these children are more relevant to discussions re-adoption as autistic children are much less likely to be adopted anyway.

    I am confident that all those readers willing to ‘think’ independently and humanely will support and wish Sarah, our benefactor , the best of luck in the performances outlined in her above post. We hope she will accept our thanks , in advance, for her efforts at the events as well as our continued appreciation of all her effort and financial input to the CPR. She deserves a medal, in my opinion!

    So, what do ordinary victims of our country’s long-existing adoption policies ( particularly non-consensual) think should be entered into discussions we should be having on the subject? This thread offers us all the chance to comment and readers should respond here with complaints and constructive input including questions and queries.

    Just this week, another leading Borough Council in our country has issued a comprehensive apology for the systemic corruption , vile child-abuse and exploitation of thousands and thousands of children over the past SIXTY YEARS which has thrived and proliferated on its watch. Tragically, due to the nature of power, this sort of corruption is inevitable when human beings are granted power to control the lives of vulnerable citizens especially defenceless children . The statement from the Council involved goes into some detail and describes a major problem is that when victims complain to Social Workers, Guardians, lawyers and Police, they meet with disbelief; blind eyes;deaf- ears; the burying of heads in sand and silence. Coming from Public Servants tasked with the care of children and legal professionals paid to represent them such reactions are CRIMINALLY IRRESPONSIBLE ! The Authority now admits this without reservation.

    Will legal professionals now open their eyes and target these criminal forces or will they continue to address institutional corruption and criminality half-heartedly by virtually denying its existence? Will we continue to hear lame excuses such as they do not think it deliberate or done with malice? Or that the problem can be sorted out by internal reforms etc.

    Most victims who have visited and commented on this resource will know exactly what penitent officials in Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire,Jersey, Wales ,the Black Country and many other areas are talking about and that is why we are reduced to complaining on the CPR and on other on-line outlets. Some of us have been reading the various posts and commenting here for a number of years already and I think many parents will agree with me that, while we are not exactly ignored, there is little or no acknowledgement that RADICAL CHANGES to frontline practices particularly with regard to the legal system of Family Courts and the judicial proceedings are a necessity.

    What do we see as an essential to redress the injustices and illegitimate aims as and when they occur in individual cases?

    The response to blatant inhumanity and unlawfulness by our lawyers is unacceptable. We have discussed how our children are ‘unlawfully taken away’ with contraventions of their procedural and convention rights to no avail. Will the latest admissions of criminal wrongdoing make any difference?

    I am afraid we have to be sceptical . Following the show this weekend and the one in London and following any CPR conference which takes place this year, when we look through our windows at what is going on outside, we will see that NOTHING will have changed. The inhumanity and injustice will continue will continue until and when members of the bar cease with their ostrich impressions and act decisively to stamp it out! Even if it means destroying the careers of erstwhile colleagues , they must respond effectively on our behalf. Even Judges who condone and/ or comply with institutional inhumanity and corruption must be brought down if necessary.

    We all face a reluctance to act by Police Forces. This may or may not be due to directives issued to them by Police Committees controlled by offending Local Authorities. I think barristers should address the problems we have by more positive interventions. Each barrister is respected by the Law enforcement authorities by virtue of their membership of the Bar. They cannot be ignored so easily and can bring about the downfall of injustice. They should make frequent , ad-hoc reports and complaints to regional or national serious crime squads at the smallest sign of unlawfulness . On investigation, in my opinion, it will be found that small transgressions are indicative of gross malpractices which currently prevail. British Citizens deserve better representation! Barristers be fearless in Court.

    All comments welcome. Please let no-one downplay the corruption given these latest apologies. Retrospective apologies are of little real value to abused children and families. Too often , the need for radical change is swept under the carpet.

  2. Angelo Granda

    If these admissions and apologies are to have any real value, EVERY case of removal of children into care over the past sixty -years should be enquired into and examined in a general way and every such case over the past fifteen should be subjected to a strict review especially as to false evidence. Children should be re-united with their families WITH compensation. Alas, the Local Authorities aren’t even capable of carrying out an impartial review so it will never happen.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.