Nina Lopez from SNS on forced adoptions carrying on and one reader recalls how their sister was forced to give up her baby. Jean Robertson Molloy from Movement for an Adoption Apology replies.
Letters The Guardian Tue 1 Jun 2021 17.51 BST
Gaby Hinsliff (The UK’s forced adoption scandal was state-sanctioned abuse, 27 May) draws an important parallel between the adoptions forced on single mothers between the 1950s and 1970s, the Rochdale, Windrush and Grenfell scandals, and preventable Covid-19 deaths. She points to “state-sanctioned abuse” of people “dehumanised in the eyes of officialdom”.
But she seems unaware that forced adoptions have not stopped. Of about 3,500 adoptions a year, 90% are against the will of the birth family. They are hidden by a closed family court system that was found to be ridden with sexism, racism and classism by the government’s review of harm in the family courts’ treatment of domestic violence.
One grandmother in our network who lost her grandchild to adoption describes the process: “If you are poor, working class, in need of support, services, housing, or have been in care, it can be used as proof that you are not fit to be a parent. They had all the power. We had only our pain and anger. And our fear for her. She had no choice, no voice, no comprehension.”
We recently celebrated the reunion of a family whose children had been destined for adoption after their single mother, an asylum seeker who spoke hardly any English, was accused of having lied to the authorities. Social workers and the police had been parked outside the hospital waiting for the court order to take the newborn. This time we were able to stop it. The Movement for an Adoption Apology is well aware that the past is in the present – that’s why it is part of our coalition.
Support Not Separation
Gaby Hinsliff’s article reminds me powerfully of what happened to my sister in the early 1960s. Condemned as a whore by our mother, she was spirited off to a Church of England hostel in London so that the neighbours would never know. To make matters worse, my sister was able to trace her baby to an address in the city that we grew up in, and she began leaving anonymous gifts for the baby, no doubt causing some anxiety for the adoptive parents. She had depressive bouts for many years, all caused by the brutality of a system that ignored her feelings. Some 40 years later, she and her daughter met for the first time and kept in touch until my sister died a few years ago.
Friday 4 June
Threadbare social services have lost the trust of families
Fri 4 Jun 2021 16.37 BST
Having worked in social services at the “coalface” for nearly 40 years, and also being a member of the Movement for an Adoption Apology, I welcome Nina Lopez’s letter drawing attention to today’s forced adoptions (Letters, 1 June). I believe we are the only country in western Europe which regularly sanctions adoptions opposed by the birth family. During my career, I saw the profession change from one that was primarily concerned with supporting families in difficulties, to one which will only allocate a social worker to a family where it is believed that the children could already be in danger. And the fear, sadly often justified, that the main function of social services nowadays is to remove children from home, means that few families will now even think of asking for help from this source. As a result, by the time a family gets a social worker, it’s usually 20 years too late. And much of the blame for this must lie with successive governments, who have cut to the bone the subsidies which councils need if they are to employ enough social workers to reverse this trend.