Think before you adopt…

Think before you adopt .  . . A disabled mum’s story by Clare McGrath

My story may be rather contentious but there is another side to Adoption.

There are thousands of parents up and down the UK that are fighting to keep their children in their care – mostly it’s the risk of future harm. There are gagging orders in place. Secret Courts (A Judge, LA and Court Guardian and their team) and terrified parents taking on the might of the system which is already stacked against them.

Looking at the statistics

“80% of children’s homes and 40% of Foster Care has been privatised. Thus millions are spent on feeding an increasingly privatised and growing child protection industry: over £2,000 a week for each child in institutional care; at least £450 for Foster Care.

The Government also allocates funding starting at £27,000 per child and more if the child has been languishing in the Care system for 18 months or more.”

So are children being taken in the best interests of the child?

In my case, I was alone, disabled, and suffering with pre and post Natal Depression. I have Cerebral Palsy and amongst other things, I couldn’t change my child’s nappy quick enough.

This month is Adoption drive month and I want to make the public aware that there is something called Forced Adoption and Forced Foster Care in the UK whereby a Judge in a secret Family Court can disperse of Parental Responsibility. We are the only Country in Europe to do this.

After over three years of fighting legally and six years of having the Local Authority in my life, my son was forcibly adopted in February 2018. I last had contact with him in November 2016 and he was not potty trained and could not speak.

I want to bring attention to the following:

  • The Guardian article ” Profit Drives the UK Child Protection Industry” Written by Nina Lopez Jones Support not Separation Coalition, Anne Neale Legal Action for Women and Kim Sparrow Single Mothers Self Defence
  • “Do No Harm ” 11th September Houses of Parliament. Adoption should be the last resort. Personal accounts and academics
  • Suffer Little Children. Report by Legal Action for Women.

I am writing with regards to the show on Adoption today.

It is Adoption drive month and it’s an extremely difficult time for me as this time last year my son was on the way to being placed. At this point in my life, legal avenues have been exhausted.  I am a mother who desperately wanted to keep her child. I was sick throughout pregnancy, desperately needing support, in unsuitable accommodation, disabled and alone.

I had a crowd of Social Workers around my bed when my child’s umbilical cord hadn’t even fallen off asking me to sign a Section 20. I had signed a child in need during pregnancy as I was under the assumption I would be supported.

This was back in 2013.

I had an extremely difficult birth, I was left incontinent and then followed 2 mother and baby placements awaiting assessments which went on for 10 months. Meanwhile, I was expected to move house by myself, take care of my continence needs, and be under constant scrutiny.

The first placement, I was left to my own devices. The second was like a prison camp. In both instances, both placements had several other children in their care at the same time and neither of them had mother and baby placements before.

The assessments were failed. There were two of them. My Legal team said they were the worst they had seen. Teresa and giving me mental health conditions I didn’t have.

Under the Care Act 2014 disabled people are entitled to a care package. In court, it was asserted that I need 24 hour care with my son yet acknowledged that I can run a home by myself.

Once it goes to court, it is terrifying for the parent, contact becomes less and less and it is in a very small contact room and there is a one size fits all policy whereby every parent is seen as a flight risk.

I feel Social Services are operating in a place of fear. No parent should have to beg a Judge to see her child and innocent posts on Social Media scrutinised and every move pathological.

I never actually harmed or threatened to harm my child. Even my Solicitor said that there is a care crisis and it is a type social cleansing.

The questions for me are? Why not put money into keeping families together. Even near the end when we were seeing each other once a month, my son cherished the contact. I have Cerebral Palsy and was expected to travel quite a way to see him.

There is growing evidence that states (In US) cutting off contact has a detrimental effect.  Mother and baby placements separate and isolate women and then professionals wonder why women get depressed.

The aftermath.

My contact now is nil, even though the family apparently wish it were open. After two years I have had no letters. There are two letters a year I receive which I cannot reply to and I send a birthday and Christmas card. I get no pictures. This was stopped three years ago.

An adoption agency linked to the council and a letterbox agency linked to the Council.

I have had my Barrister sobbing saying how unfair it all was and a Student Social Worker who came out to see me, sobbing and saying I had a lovely home and a lot to offer and saying that a lot of her colleagues don’t agree with the adoption policy.

I had a son how was on the verge of walking and talking when I last saw him to having global developmental delay. My rights have been taken without my consent. I have no way of knowing how he is and the letterbox contact is only mandatory. To date, I have had nothing.

Finally, I would urge anyone thinking of Adopting to:

  1. Think seriously about open adoption
  2. Look at the background; Ask to see the parents and get their side of the story.

Research has shown that it’s harder for a child to adapt to adoption by the age of two and a half and children need to ideally be adopted by five and under Blair’s Government stated the 26 weeks deadline for a decision one way or another.

My son and I were failed along with other families up and down the Country;

  • There was a failure with Adult and Social Services not working together.
  •  NHS not being able to keep me in hospital
  •  The secret courts
  •  Funding crisis

It is an honourable thing to want to adopt a child but what you don’t know is that parents up and down the Country have been gagged for telling their story. That once potential adopters have been found, that any other potential family members are bypassed as potential carers.

Parents often keep the legal fight going and meanwhile there is still a bond between parent and child.

I was unwell due to the whole process. On two different kinds of anti-depressants and a mood stabiliser. This was used to show I was fragile! I was grieving! I have sourced Counselling support myself.

At The Adoption hearing, it was stated by the Judge that my son sees that as his family now, at his Human Rights need to be respected. Parents needs are totally bypassed.

So please look into the background and see the parent. If this is not forthcoming, then question why?

There is usually a reason behind why parents are still fighting through and want to keep their child. Believe me, I’ve been through it and it is horrendous. I was told by my Barrister that the Local Authority Barrister would try and make me cry and the Court Guardian Solicitor would try and make me angry. I endured 8 hearings, one of which was in the Royal Courts of Justice.

Unless parents actually sign a piece of paper to say they want the child adopted and it’s in their best interests I would seriously reconsider your options.

So, this time last year, my son’s potential “family” went to an adoption drive event and less than four months later he was placed. They apparently have another older child. His Social Worker…  (of which he has had several) said he would be better as an only child considering his needs.

In April this year I actually saw him and had to walk away. It was heart-wrenching. To talk to your child is an offence!

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

An overhaul of the whole system is needed.

I am not the stereotypical, poorly educated, teenage mother who has been in care. I am University educated and want to use my experience and my voice to make the Country aware of the system that does not value the family. Seeing a parent and child as a separate entity.