The first category of articles,’Being Human – The Way We Are,’ go some way to differentiating between reaction and response – and perhaps you agree that well thought out responses to situations, are often indeed preferable to lunging reactions? However, we are creatures of habit and habit tends to be comfortable by default, so even if we do agree to change even one habit, this alone raises many other aspects of ourselves to look at simultaneously. If the subject of the reaction is fairly superficial such as feelings of impatience whilst waiting to be served at a till or perhaps struggling to bear someone’s bad driving, then we have both the time and space to keep working to stop our reactions and to place reasonable, relevant statements in their place, largely reminding ourselves that there are many ways to view a situation, and not just the negative stance that we are taking at the time.
However, can we use this same thinking when confronted with extreme situations involving highly conflicting emotions where reactions are to the fore?
Our second category, ‘Being Human – The Way We Can Be,’ attempts to delve into and better understand the relationship between our defensive egotistical selves and the rest of us. As part and parcel of this category, contentious and therefore potentially deeply distressing topics will be explored and we begin with this first article, When Safety Dissolves: Forced Adoption, exploring the effect on families who find their lives turned upside down by corrupt cards dealt by the family courts. Readers will be invited to contribute through text, audio and filmed interviews arranged by prior arrangement.
When Safety Dissolves: Forced Adoption.
People often use the expression ‘what a nightmare’ to mean a tricky situation holding much perceived challenge – but there is a different level of nightmare that can lead to real terror, when the services that we are raised to respect and to trust, apparently turn against us. There are many reported scenarios involving different services, highlighting the gross malpractice of the professionals involved, as well as the the in-house solidarity found between colleagues and even governing authorities, whilst hiding their professional crimes. Malpractice can be truly disconcerting within any arena but when it arises within governmental processes in place to protect our children and our family life, it becomes frightening and of paramount importance to rectify as a matter of urgency. There is no better example of this than within cases of threatened forced adoption.
It is worth noting that forced adoptions are not sanctioned anywhere other than England and the profit made from each adoption, is likely to come as a surprise to most people, as it certainly did to me. Granted, there are family scenarios that do call for progressive state intervention and this article is not putting all adoptions under one critical umbrella. However, when children are taken from good homes, records falsified, and parents gagged, families are thrown into living hell as they witness their children in effect being kidnapped by the state and forced to live with strangers – while they are completely impotent to act.
I was a young mum myself over thirty years ago now. By the time I was eighteen years old I was a mum to three children under five years old. I knew that I had my mother’s and some support and although it was still taboo for someone so young to become pregnant, I was clear of the dark ages of scorn, humiliation and rejection. My midwife carried herself with pride about her young mum who did everything right and liked to be independent and strong. She used me at times as inspiration for other older mothers, telling them, “Well if our young mum can do it, then so can the rest of us can’t we.” Life as a parent was colourful, challenging and deeply rewarding. The journey with our own children, learning and growing alongside them, is there to be cherished and enjoyed. I knew that my health visitor and midwife were on hand should I have needed them. I had a supportive mum and never had to feel isolated or panicked.
Over the course of my parenting, at times I made mistakes or didn’t manage a task or many tasks as well as I would have liked to. I did berate myself at times but constantly reminded myself that we are all works in progress and that my children weren’t coming to any harm. They all knew that they were deeply loved and I raised them using a peaceful world mantra, ‘Live and Let Live.’ There were some awfully challenging times and in hindsight, there are some choices that I would not repeat given the same circumstances but I chose to the best of my ability each time and my children, now in their thirties, accept our history and me, as I do them and we couldn’t be more grateful for the journey we’ve shared together…and still do.
When speaking about forced adoptions with victimised parents, it has occurred to me on many occasion that the sins of the present according to Social Services, are most definitely NOT sins of the past. Nowadays, parents can be reprimanded and even penalised for a range of activities that were quite acceptable thirty years ago. I am not referring to anything even slightly extreme; parents may be seen as neglectful towards their children for missing an appointment, for their children’s late arrival at school, for the time they choose to feed them after school, for a missed meal, scruffy attire, wrong shoes, wrong choice of nappies, for feeding a baby for too long and so the list goes on. If we were to place the same boundaries on parenting thirty years ago, everybody’s children would have been taken away from them.
As if it isn’t concerning enough that parents can be judged and punished for a range of moderate family behaviours and situations, perhaps even more worryingly, parents can find themselves under the threat of penalisation and even incarceration for exercising their legal and parental rights in the face of their own child’s abuse. The state says that ‘it likes to be involved in cases of abuse’ and yet it doesn’t necessarily properly take on board allegations of abuse – and when it does, can often find itself working with falsified documents, deceitful accusations and biased Social Workers and Cafcass Officers. In the meantime, time passes and alienation between parent and child begins and good parents are forced to jump many unnecessary hoops to prove themselves. While each parenting process unfolds, the adoption paperwork is satisfied and processed, so that by the time the parents have disproved all allegations against them, they can be told that it is ‘too late’ for them to have their child/children returned to them. They are left childless, or looking after their remaining grieving family after one sibling has been taken. They are left asking themselves, how one year away from them out of their child’s life , adds up to it being ‘too late’ for their child to return home? And it leaves them asking the question, “Exactly what ways do the state want to be involved in cases of child abuse – and why?”
As a young mum, I did not fear any services, I trusted them. I didn’t fear letting on that I was over-tired when I was breast-feeding my second child when my first was just three months old. I wasn’t ordered to feed them for a specific amount of time, nor did I face challenges from my midwife. I didn’t feel that there was a risk of unfriendly neighbours making up rumours that may lead to my children being taken away from me and put into care. I didn’t worry that if I didn’t manage well enough, my baby, my toddler, my own beautiful and sacred flesh and blood would be ripped from my life. The relationship between my children and I, with all of it’s richness, was between us. I was mummy and what I said was important, what I learnt about my children and their needs was specific to them and wise – and born following many, many moments spent with them in all sorts of different scenarios. I didn’t fear that being a young mum I was being watched, judged and criticised. I knew that if I needed help it was there without question. Surely regardless and including all the changes over the years, this is what the services should still be providing?
One of the the most popular phrases included in the sanctioning by Social Services of forced adoption is, ‘the risk of future emotional harm.’ Of course there are cases where it is imperative to remove a child from an environment that has proved to be damaging to it and within circumstances which cannot readily benefit from support work. However, this article refers to the countless parents who having already completed the Social Security set tasks demanded of them, found their children being taken from them via this overused premise alone…’the risk of future emotional harm. A premise that cannot either be proved or disproved – in fact one that can be decided, written and acted on, according to a professional hunch or whim – or even worse, personal bias.
You may be familiar with the phrase ‘gagging order’ in relation to the family courts but what does it mean? The family court states that when parents are ordered not to disclose the progress of their case with others, it is in protection of the children. However, these gagging orders are often put into place in cases of forced adoption, prohibiting parents and children from enlisting the support they need to help them to contest the proposed adoption. Adoptions are processed with fewer delays and therefore parents can find their children living with another family in the spate of several short months, whilst being unable to communicate with anyone other than the professionals involved, for fear of being in contempt of court. We will be discussing this topic further within the case history section of this article.
Many who judge Social Services as being prone to ‘knee-jerk’ reactions, attribute them to a history of insufficiently dealt with extreme cases where children who could have been saved, slipped through the net. However, this simply doesn’t hold weight when there are so many cases of children needing protection, being left to be abused and even placed with abusers – and then others who are taken from good families to live with people they don’t know. I have tried to keep a level head through the research I have conducted over the last sixteen months and time and time again, I have found myself confronted with the apparently impenetrable walls of our family court system – The Secret Courts – so when I began to hear about covert agendas within the family court system, I was receptive to try and better understand what may be occurring. You will probably agree that it is initially challenging to consider that governmental financial profit could be the motivation behind forced adoptions but this is what people were telling me.
It has been altogether challenging to research care, fostering, adoption and abuse statistics because there is simply too much disparity between the figures readily and even less readily available – so my research is based on qualitative research. There is a stark contrast between bearing witness to a family torn apart by the family court system and then to browsing colourfully alluring adoption sites, advertising children like merchandise. Petitions, EDMs and letters come and go and each week I speak with another group of traumatised parents who have had their children taken from them. Parents ask for the child protection laws to be changed to bring in greater immediacy within child orientated court cases, so that children and parents don’t suffer traumatising separation, often times leading to estrangement and secondary difficulties that could have easily been avoided. Parents know that their children can be terrorised, bribed, lied to, manipulated and forced and where there is a particularly toxic and self-serving ex-partner, children and absent parents can be literally toyed with, for many months or even years by their ex-partner, supported by the family court system.
The boundaries and guidelines around adoption are clear and where children are forcibly adopted, the process is usually a closed deal. What does that mean? In many cases after children have settled into their newly adopted family environment, contact with the birth parents may continue fluently and as part and parcel of the child’s care plan. If there are no obstacles related to the safety of the child/children, then there is no need for them to be prohibited from seeing the natural parents. In cases where the parent/s it suspected of being unable to care properly for the child/children, post adoptive contact may be moderated and develop in accordance with both the progress of the child and the capability of the parent/s. If there is a risk of parents harming their children, there is unlikely to be post adoption contact. In the case of forced adoptions, there are none of these options. Once children have been placed with their new families, their birth parents are prohibited from further contact with them. They are denied any knowledge of their whereabouts or wellbeing and are left bereft and impotent to influence the situation.
We know that families can be complex and problems within a family can be multi-dimensional, so how is it, that once under the eagle eye of the family courts, we as parents seem to be so easily deemed unacceptable?Another Angle For The Brave invite readers to contribute their own experiences of the family court system, especially related to forced adoptions. By sharing experiences, we can close the gap between those who have experienced the extremes of life and of society and those who remain blissfully ignorant – and in so doing, bring these less aired life situations, into the light of mainstream awareness.
Please make contact to arrange your interview or to find out more.
Thank you for reading. Comments Welcome.
© 2015 Sarita Perrott. All Rights Reserved.