Sunday, June 7, 2015

An Adoption Time Bomb?

I'm hard on the Daily Mail Online. It irritates me that they don't proofread properly, that half baked articles with no real information get passed for publication, that they write sensational half-truth headlines to get you to click (because a click is a hit for the advertising statistics), and stories that are not stories but just the disgruntled having a whinge in public.

And yet there are times when they use their massive readership and advertising revenue to good use. Times when they grab hold of a story and won't let go until justice is done. And times when they go over and beyond the call of a newspaper to try and help the wheels of justice but sadly can only go as far as the law will allow.

I concede that I'm willing to overlook the shoddy reporting and lack of proofreading on some articles for the flip side, when they intervene and get some customer service where it's due. When they publicize a major injustice and sudenly the company involved apologizes and pays out. When they expose corruption in high places. All this I appreciate.

Today I read the story of Nicky and Mark Webster whose three young children were taken away by social services and put up for adoption because the middle child had some bone fractures that could not be explained. They took the toddler to the hospital, did nothing wrong and everything right, there was no other evidence of anything amiss with their two other children aged 4 and 1. The children were taken and adopted even though the judge (in the secret court) said there was reasonable doubt and no abuse had been seen by anyone or proved. They rejected the plea that the children be adopted within the family.

Three years later they had to fight to keep their new baby and the DM stepped in to pay for first class lawyers and get some justice. They got some justice. "Some." The evidence showed that due to a milk allergy their GP had advised them to give their middle child soy milk instead of dairy. He had been suffering from scurvy as a result of vitamin C and calcium deficiency. There was no abuse, They had followed instructions and loved their kids is all.

Nicky and Mark won the right to keep the baby Brandon and they went on to have another daughter, Both children are well looked after and loved. However the judge said that as the three older children had been with their adoptive family(s) for three years it would be too disruptive for them to be returned to their real parents.

I think the judge was wrong. Three years is a long time in the life of a child but for the girl who was wrenched from her mother's arms on her fifth birthday, she'd had more of her life in her real home. And three years is not a long time in a lifespan of 80 odd years. During the war there were many children who were sent away for three years and then returned.

Howver, it's what has happened since that makes me think those adoptive parents are sitting on a time bomb. One that is due to go off in about three years when the daughter, who is now 15, turns 18. The real parents were supposed to get an update letter and photos every year but this stopped when they went to court over the new baby. The grandparents were supposed to get regular visits but this was stopped. The adoptive parents had to know the whole story. They had to know how the real parents were found to be good parents and had done nothing wrong. And yet they went along with stopping all contact. The children will know this in the future. I'd be surprised if the 15yo daughter has not seen the article in the DM or been told about it.

You cannot go against the courts but you can deprive your children of the truth. Of their truth. You can make a bad situation worse by continuing the suffering and the secrecy. A compromise could have been found whereby the real parents had visitation on some level and communication was kept intact. They chose not to and I think they might come to regret it in the very near future. There are no secure secrets in this age of instant worldwide media.

Me, I dissolve into tears every time I think of that 5yo screaming to her mummy, "Mummy why can't I come home with you? Is it because I was naughty?"


16 comments:

  1. sometimes the State gets it totally wrong, and other times, lets the innocent fall between two stools.. These parents have suffered that is for sure.. Regarding the foster family, I have just read a book recently published, called Four Waifs on our Doorstep.. about a foster family.. they realised that the four children had been traumatised severely, but the Social Services would NOT give them any information at all, and they tried and tried over the years to find out more about the kids who were living with them.. The Social Services do have a very funny way to dealing with matters, including Courts where decisions are made without input from families, so dont be too hard on the foster parents.. Saying that, its appalling in this day and age that such matters happen still Even the other day a two year old was taken from his family and put up for adoption, because the parents smoked!! It is getting out of hand.. smoking is not good, but the report that the social services visitor could not breathe there, might hold some exaggeration.... anyway, I am glad to read your posts, and I will be back for more.. You seem to be doing a great job with your DD and so I am looking forward to reading more on this blog.. regards, J

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    1. I am willing to accept that the adoptive parents might have had their hands tied by the SS (no pun intended but the irony is noted). Shame, because they are the next ones to suffer in this web of lies, cover ups, and cruelty.

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  2. I was not aware of this story, nor that the Daily Mail was helping the parents, and it's good to read that they are. I guess it's never easy to decide when to intervene and when not to, as there is no way for sure to tell what goes on behind the closed doors of the family home. What this case does seem to highlight, is that various organisations and individuals are not prepared to say that they they got it wrong and instead of trying to make things right, they've compounded the wrong done to this family, That's what I find so awful about this case.

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    1. I agree. It would have been very sad to read about parents who were separated from their children for three years until they were cleared of child abuse, but to then make the family live another 12 - 15 years apart is tragic. I firmly believe that this family will be reunited as each child comes of age.

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  3. Social services don't make decisions about children being removed, and the courts don't make such decisions without thorough a huge amount of evidence. I am very aware of how much work goes into keeping families together. Obviously neither the courts or the local authority are able to give the information that led to their decisions. That "child removed because parents smoke" story is an absolute classic example of social work hating, simple minded, one sided reporting that the Daily Fail call news. They are absolutely notorious for bashing local authorities when children are not removed when efforts are being made to keep families together (because, guess what? social workers, the police, the medical and health professionals and teachers are not telepathic) and then for bashing them when they do follow the very very hard, long, resource heavy path to place children in places of safety outside their birth families in situations where that is absolutely necessary. And yes mistakes happen. Imagine going home from work every night with the knowledge that a mistake can lead not only to this vile newspaper putting you on their front page, but also to a dead child? You come across as a really intelligent woman - why do you believe anything this life draining, hate filled paper says?

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    1. I dont' believe everything the DM says. When I read about the boy who was removed because of the smkely house I agreed with the social workers that this is a dangerous environment for a baby (even without any other contributing factors) so I'm not on a social services witch hunt. However, the buy had scurvy becasuse the mother followed doctors' orders and no one recognised it. This mistke is not the tragedy imo. It would have been sad to read how, once cleared of all suggestion of abuse, the family had lost out on three years together. The tragedy is that no one rectified the mistake. They compounded it by separating the family for life. This was the judge not the social workers. (Btw, if you read my post about the couple who were sleeping in Heathrow Airport you'll see that I challenge the DM on every point when the story doesn't add up. Why do you think I believe EVERYTHING they write because I am appalled by this one story?)

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    2. Thanks for the response. Just to be clear, I didn't suggest you believed everything the paper said, I asked why you believed anything they said, which is a little different.

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    3. OK, point taken, you did say anything. Imo it's a matter of discerning the crap from the truth. They were cleared of child abuse by the High Court and they lost all contact with their children. That's the truth.in this story and it's enough for me to feel very sad and upset for them.

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  4. From Margie in Toronto - I'd also read this story online and was appalled at the injustice - I fear there is more trauma and sadness to come for all those involved as the children come of age. A terrible situation - and to not even have allowed other family members to have cared for or even have contact with the children is truly outrageous!

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    1. I know. I suspect that three healthy children (apart from the scurvy) from a loving home was too good an adoption package to pass up to family embers. Very very sad for the fmily and, as you say, this story is not over. The adoptive parents are going to have to deal with this sooner or later.

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  5. The reason that the Daily Mail prints so many of these 'child taken away unfairly' articles is that Social Services are not allowed, by law, to put forward their bit of the story. I think it's really dangerous and ignorant to post stuff like this when you do not know the full story.

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    1. The Family Division of the High Court allowed their appeal to be public, It was proved that the child had scurvy and had not been abused. It was agreed that the two other children had not shown any signs of abuse (or even scurvy). They were cleared of all charges of abuse and allowed to keep their new baby (and a subsequent baby).
      You are right that I have no idea if there was any other evidence against them that we don't know about but if there was any abuse it is unlikely that they would have been allowed to keep there other children.
      The tragedy here is that having been cleared in an open court - an undisputed fact - they were not allowed to be reunited with their children or even have any contact with with them,
      I am not on a Social Sevices witch hunt and I accept that mistakes happen. However, I have a friend who has to send yearly letters updating her adopted child's abusive birth parents even while having to keep their whereablouts a secret as the original family are considered a dangerous threat to the child. In this case, there could have been some sort of compromise to enable a wrong to be partially put right - visitation or at least letters.

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    2. *keep their other children.

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  6. Such a heartbreaking story. So very unjust. I think I would go out of my mind if this happened to me. I would have the same image in my head too....

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    1. I know, I don't know how they carried on. I'm pleased for them that they had two more children.

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