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We Don't Need No Facts
March 16, 2013 permalink
A mother whose history contained nothing more damaging than an accidental fall has lost her daughter to adoption, even after proving all of the allegations against her false. Link to Christopher Booker's previous story on this case.
You never took drugs, but you cannot keep your child
Some family court rulings are impossible to understand
As our social workers continue to break all records in the number of children they remove from their parents – the latest figures for England and Wales show that the number of care applications is this year likely to rise above 11,000, approaching three times their level in April 2008 – our Education Secretary, Michael Gove, is determined to increase the comparatively small percentage of those children who then go on to be adopted. In support of this policy (Mr Gove was successfully adopted, and his new Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson, was brought up with two adoptive siblings), their department commissioned two academics, Barry Luckock and Dr Karen Broadhurst, to produce a report that purports to show that, bar one or two minor criticisms, the process of removing children for adoption by new parents is working well.
It turns out, however, that the 12 case studies on which their report is based were chosen either by solicitors for the local authorities or by court officials. Hardly surprising, in every one of these cases the children appear to have been removed for good reasons from dysfunctional parents who had neglected or abused them.
None of these stories bears any resemblance to those I have often reported here, such as one disturbing case to which I have referred several times, which has lately had another cruel and final twist. This involved the very intelligent and devoted mother who, a few months after her daughter was born, fell by accident backwards out of a first‑floor window, leaving her temporarily paralysed.
So quickly did the social workers move to take her baby into care that they had soon assembled a string of damning accusations against her: that she was a drug addict and alcoholic whose fall had been a suicide bid. All these claims were, I gather, shown by the evidence, including that of drug and alcohol tests, to be completely spurious. But, as so often happens, the social workers, instead of admitting their initial mistake, stuck to their guns, within weeks making the first moves needed to have her baby adopted. Despite recognition from contact supervisors and the baby’s official “guardian” over the next two years that mother and child continued to have a touchingly close emotional bond, the social workers eventually got their way, persuading a judge to have the little girl sent for adoption.
Briefed by the local authority, which does not deny it, the local paper published a lurid story on the case, branding the mother as an alcoholic druggie who had tried to kill herself. The mother was allowed a last “goodbye session”, as the social workers call it, with her now three-year-old daughter, who rushed into her mother’s arms, according to a family friend who was present, unable to grasp that she would not see her mother again.
This month, in a last desperate bid to get her daughter back, the mother appealed to another judge to stop the adoption order, relying on the rule that such an application can be granted if the mother can show that her “circumstances have changed”. When she yet again, I gather, produced medical evidence, going back several years, to show that she had never been a drug addict or an alcoholic, the new judge apparently accepted this as convincing. But, astonishingly, the judge went on to rule that, since the mother had never been either of these things, her circumstances could not be said to have “changed”. The adoption must therefore still go ahead.
Almost as chillingly, the mother was then allowed to see a small part of the report the social workers had prepared to be shown to her daughter’s new adoptive parents. This not only contains a string of simple factual errors; it still paints her in the most damning light as having, despite the judge’s finding, “a history of drug and alcohol misuse”, adding: “It is reported that she has attempted suicide on nine occasions.”
This may all help to convince the adoptive parents that they have rescued the new member of their family from a fate worse than death (the report is even anxious to record that the mother is “a smoker” and “wears high heels and make-up”). And no doubt if Mr Gove’s academics had been given an account of this case by the local authority’s solicitor, it might have seemed another success story for the adoption process. But to anyone who has followed just what this mother and child have been put through since they were torn apart in 2010, and who is aware of just how dysfunctional so much of our “child protection” system has become, I’m afraid this story is not just yet another shocking travesty of justice; it is an almost unbearable tragedy.
Source: Telegraph (UK)