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We Don't See Anything Wrong

November 28, 2010 permalink

A mother asks social services for help, they confiscate her little girl, her social-services-appointed lawyer fails to help her, at visitation mother and daughter are forbidden to express love for each other, courts rubber-stamp social services applications, courts act on evidence concealed from parents. Just more routine, but British Children's Minister Tim Loughton says horrors develop in less than ten percent of cases. While the minister keeps his head in the sand, the second article by Belgian Radio tells it like it is (in French).



Forced adoptions get no sympathy from the ministry

While loving families are torn apart, Whitehall insists the system is working fine, says Christopher Booker

Tim Loughton with family in Lambeth
Children's Minister Tim Loughton with children from a family in Lambeth

Last week I listened for an hour to a sobbing mother describing how she recently lost the six-year-old daughter who is the centre of her life. Her fatal mistake was to ask social workers for advice when she was being troubled by "harassment" from the child's father, from whom she parted some years ago. Within days, although it was never suggested that she had harmed her daughter in any way, she found herself facing a "case conference" of 20 people at the local council offices, the conclusion of which was that her child must be placed in foster care.

The solicitor she was given by the social workers refused to oppose the care order. At a "contact" session, when she and her bewildered daughter emotionally expressed their love for each other, the interview was halted. She has not been allowed to see her child again.

Having followed dozens of such cases in recent months, which suggest that something has gone horribly wrong with our child protection system, I was recently invited for an off-the-record ministerial discussion about what I have been reporting. But far from recognising that anything might be astray, the official line, it seems, is that the horrifying cases I have covered represent only an untypical minority of the total – "less than 10 per cent". In general, the system is working fine.

This line seems to be confirmed by the latest guidance issued to local authorities by the Children's Minister, Tim Loughton, who says that too many councils are failing to ensure that enough children are being adopted, and that the backsliders must speed up their flow of adoptions. No question as to whether social workers might be snatching too many of the wrong children in the first place – or why the courts seem so eager to support them that, of around 8,000 applications made each year for care orders, only one in 400 is refused.

I shall give just one disturbing instance of the latest developments in a case I have been following for months. Like many others, this came to me through the Forced Adoption website, run by former councillor Ian Josephs. It involves a married couple whose five older children were seized earlier this year, subsequent to which their latest baby was torn from its mother's arms only hours after it was born.

The bizarre story originally stated by the social workers to justify their ruthless intervention in this family's life seems to have collapsed. At a recent court hearing, I am told, the judge seemed disposed to reunite the family as soon as possible. The baby was returned to her parents later that day. But the council asked for 21 days' stay of execution before returning the five older children, three of whom the parents had not been allowed to see for weeks. The judge apparently agreed but insisted that an independent social worker should interview the children.

The independent social worker eventually managed to interview four of the children, apparently reporting that they all wished to be allowed to go home to their parents. But the court refused to give the parents a copy of the judge's ruling, and on Friday they were summoned back to hear from him that he had now seemingly changed his mind and that the children did not wish to come home after all. According to the parents, they were not allowed to question the evidence on which he based his new ruling, although they were told they could appeal.

What on earth is going on here? Even from the little I am permitted to report of this case, it seems evident that something seriously odd is afoot.

But this is merely one of far too many cases where families are being heartlessly torn apart, often without the parents even being allowed to question the evidence or to speak for themselves. To hear such horror stories being dismissed as representing "less than 10 per cent" of all the cases where children are seized is simply not good enough. Each is shocking enough in its own right. But when every week brings news of a dozen more, this only confirms that we indeed have a national scandal on our hands.

Source: Telegraph (UK)

En Grande-Bretagne, des milliers d'enfants volés par le gouvernement

lost child

Les services sociaux britanniques enlèvent des milliers d'enfants par an à leurs familles. Sans raisons apparentes, ces enfants sont remis à l'adoption. Des assistants sociaux qui n'ont "pas besoin d'avoir une raison, ils ont seulement besoin d'une excuse".

Le 24 février 2010 à la Chambre des Communes, le Premier ministre Gordon Brown et les deux leaders de l'opposition présentent des excuses aux milliers d'enfants britanniques arrachés aux familles pauvres pendant des décennies. Des enfants alors déportés en Australie et dans d'autres pays du Commonwealth.

Ces familles méritent des "excuses illimitées", disent les hommes politiques. Et pourtant, plusieurs mois plus tard, rien n'a vraiment changé. Les services sociaux poursuivent leur mission, quasiment en toute impunité. Au début de la décennie, le gouvernement de Tony Blair avait même accordé des "primes au rendement" aux assistants sociaux, pour stimuler le marché de l'adoption. Depuis 1967, les enfants ne sont plus envoyés en Australie, mais ils sont toujours "volés" et placés sur le marché de l'adoption, presque sans aucun droit de recours. Des pratiques proches du kidnapping.

Les services sociaux, les "SS"

Les familles n'hésitent pas à appeler les services sociaux par leurs initiales, les "SS". Des "SS" qui enlèvent les nourrissons à l'hôpital. Ou dans le foyer familial, avec l'aide de la police. Pour quelles raisons ? Elles semblent en général peu claires. Le choix est motivé par les assistants sociaux. Mais les parents n'ont pas accès à ces dossiers. Ils ignorent tout ou presque des charges qui sont retenues contre eux. Les voilà définis comme étant "inaptes à éduquer leurs propres enfants".

Parfois, ces services sociaux profitent de problèmes familiaux d'une famille. Une dépression, une rupture, et les enfants sont retirés à leurs parents. Une loi oblige même les parents à se taire lorsqu'on enlève leurs enfants. Et en particulier vis-à-vis des journalistes. Pour les journalistes, justement, s'ils sont Britanniques, le fait de nommer les familles est un toboggan vers la prison car "c'est dans l'intérêt de l'enfant de ne pas être nommé".

Les parents narcissiques, colériques, violents ou gros ne peuvent garder leurs enfants.

Certaines catégories de parents ont été définies comme "à risque". Ils n'ont pas le droit de garder leurs enfants, selon les services sociaux. C'est notamment le cas des parents narcissiques, colériques ou catégorisés comme violents. Voire ceux qui souffrent d'obésité. Et puis, il faut évoquer cette affaire de fécondation in vitro qui a donné un résultat étonnant : une personne d'origine indienne a donné naissance à une petite fille blonde. Les "SS" n'ont pas apprécié. La petite fille a été enlevée à ses parents. De même que les deux enfants qui restaient à la maison.

Les services sociaux n'hésitent pas non plus à catégoriser publiquement tel père ou telle mère comme abuseur sexuel. Des fausses accusations qui détruisent ainsi plusieurs vies.

Pas autiste, mais "victime des négligences de sa mère".

Malgré des dossiers médicaux complets, une mère d'un enfant autiste s'est vue retirer la garde de son enfant. Selon les services sociaux, l'adolescent n'est pas autiste, mais est "victime des négligences de sa mère". La maman est mise sur la liste des abuseurs, perd son emploi et n'est même pas acceptée en tant que femme de ménage dans un supermarché. La prostitution devient pour elle le seul moyen de ne pas aller habiter dans la rue.

Aujourd'hui, quelques voix s'élèvent pour dénoncer ces pratiques d'enlèvement où des bébés sont littéralement arrachés aux bras de leur mère, où des enfants plus âgés sont enlevés au domicile de leurs grands-parents.

Ian Josephs, un ancien conseiller municipal expatrié dans le sud de la France, organise la "résistance" contre ces services sociaux via un site internet. Il a constitué un véritable manuel de combat pour les familles. Il explique aux familles la marche à suivre. Ou fournit directement les billets pour l'Irlande, comme cette femme enceinte elle-même adoptée. Jugée "pas assez intelligente" pour se marier par les autorités, elle a filé en Irlande pour se marier et mettre au monde son enfant.

Il est presque impossible de revoir ses propres enfants

Parce qu'une fois les enfants retirés à leurs parents, parfois à leur insu, c'est la croix et la bannière pour pouvoir espérer les revoir. Certains parents ne peuvent retrouver leurs enfants qu'à de rares moments. Des moments sous haute surveillance. Les pleurs des enfants qui retrouvent leur mère sont vus par les "SS" comme des pleurs de douleurs. Des rapports tronquant la réalité sont ainsi produits et renforcent le sentiment d'injustice qui habite des milliers de familles.

Ou alors, les enfants placés isolés. Certains ne reçoivent jamais les nombreuses lettres envoyées par leurs parents.

Certains enfants n'attendent que leurs 16 ans pour partir à la recherche des parents auxquels on les a arrachés. Certains parents osent timidement utiliser les réseaux sociaux pour espérer retrouver leurs enfants volés.

Depuis plusieurs mois, Florence Bellone, la correspondante de la RTBF à Londres, mène l'enquête : les témoignages qu'elle a recueillis sont à la fois choquants et bouleversants.

Elle rompt ainsi la barrière du silence, en faisant témoigner des familles qui n'ont pas officiellement le droit de s'exprimer devant la presse.

Ce récit, par moments, surréaliste se passe ici, en Europe, à une heure et quart de Bruxelles. Ecoutez-le ici.

Source: Belgian Radio

Addendum: Tim Loughton wrote a letter to the editor of the Telegraph. According to Christopher Booker, they did not print it because it was too long, and because it contained factual errors about their meeting. Another publication, Community Care, did print it, and it is in the expand block. The error is in the second sentence:

I requested the meeting because I was keen to find out more about the cases he has raised where there are clear concerns over the legitimacy of the way certain adoptions have taken place.

Booker says:

When I met the minister, however, I was disturbed to find that he did not seem to want to discuss what my researches had brought to light. His only concern seemed to be to dismiss the cases I had reported as being a tiny minority of exceptions, wholly unrepresentative of a system which is otherwise working fine.

In the letter below Mr Loughton shows no interest in correcting the cases that have gone wrong. Instead he says that the horror stories are few, overwhelmed by the large number of cases in which children have been helped by the adoption system. Your editor has spoken to hundreds of families affected by the child protection system in Canada and can say from experience that cases in which children are helped by the intervention are few in number, only one case in fifty.




I was surprised to read about my private meeting with Christopher Booker in his column last week (28 Nov). I requested the meeting because I was keen to find out more about the cases he has raised where there are clear concerns over the legitimacy of the way certain adoptions have taken place. For these it is certainly not a case of 'the system is working fine' and I have a responsibility as children's minister to make sure we do better for the families involved.

If the system were 'working fine' I would not have set up the review by Professor Eileen Munro to look at the whole issue of child protection and how social workers go about their job, or indeed strengthened the review into the workings of the family courts which is also doing some important work for us.

But I also have a responsibility as children's minister to make sure we do a lot better for the thousands of children who end up in the care system through no fault of their own, either to pave a safe way back to live with their own family or prepare for the longer term with alternative parental responsibility if that is not possible. Last year 3,200 children were adopted. Many came from deeply traumatic backgrounds; many were given up for adoption uncontested.

Yet despite a sharp increase in children in care post-Baby Peter, adoption figures show a worrying decline of 4% and the downward trend continues despite Mr Booker's alarmist comments about wide scale 'snatching'. His views are based on a few dozen high profile, though worrying, cases. Trying to tarnish the whole adoption system in this country undermines the work of professionals we rely on to keep vulnerable children safe, but worst of all risks damaging the chances of many thousands of children who would greatly benefit from a second chance of a stable family upbringing. I will certainly not be complacent about the scale of the problem; Mr Booker should not be so irresponsible about the solutions.

Tim Loughton

Children's minister

Source: Community Care

We don't see anything wrong