The good that must come out of Rotherham’s foster kids scandal

When I heard about the Rotherham foster kids scandal where three Eastern Euopean children were removed from their supportive and stable environment because their foster parents were members of UKIP and deemed racist, it reminded me of a similar story I wrote on my blog six years ago.

In that case, a couple from the Fens wanted to foster a child, but because they explained to the local authority that they were late for a meeting due to a road accident which involved “white foreigners”, they were castigated and told they were racist, and thus, unsuitable to be loving and supportive parents to a child in need. My post made national media headline news at the time.

Lessons don’t seem to have been learned from that, episode, but good must come out of this latest human tragedy, government and local authorities must put the needs of the children before political correctness and bureaucracy. I met a woman recently who works within social care who told me that a woman had recently had her 15 th baby and, like all her previous 14 babies, it was given up for adoption. In each case, the same lengthy legal process had to be followed, even though there was no change of circumstances. It took 2 1/2 years for the adoption process to be completed before each of those babies could be placed permanently in a loving home.  It is a shame that common sense and sound judgement cannot be applied and priority given to the needs of the baby in such circumstances. In cases like this, I am sure that social services feel frustrated that their hands are tied, so urgent changes need to be made allowing them to shorten this procedure and give the child the best possible start in life.

This topic is very close to my heart and one I have been campaigning on with the newly launched Adopt a Better Way group and the inspirational Francesca Polini who adopted two babies from Mexico after being turned down by her local authority in Ealing.

Yesterday’s Daily Mail featured the plight of fellow ABW founder Alex Bemrose and her husband Dominic who adopted their son Jose from Guatamala after their horrendous experiences with their local authority under the headline, “We, too, know it’s like to face the great PC inquisition”.

Here are a couple of alarming extracts from the report, the kind of experiences she should never have endured:

A great deal of the questioning, it seemed to Alex, was designed to help the local authority decide how ‘politically correct’ the couple were in their attitudes to racism, homosexuality and private education.

‘They seemed very concerned about the fact we’d both been to boarding school, which was discussed at length, asking how we’d felt about this “rejection” by our parents. I rather resented the question because neither of us had felt rejected in the slightest,’ she said.

‘The first thing we said to the local authority was “We don’t mind race, colour or creed” and the first question we were asked was “What is your ethnicity?” The local authority guidelines at that time were to place children in a home with parents of the same ethnicity.

‘When I told them we were white British, I was turned down without even being invited for an interview. They said they already had enough white British prospective adoptive parents on their books.

‘We approached around seven more local authorities in our area, and they all said the same thing. We never got past that first telephone call. Our ethnicity was the most important and relevant issue for them, rather than whether we could offer a child a good home.

‘I remember one social worker saying to me “You have three main problems. You are white, middle-class and a heterosexual couple”. I couldn’t even respond to that because it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard.”

If young children in care had a voice, they would most certainly agree!

You can read Alex’s full story here.