Parents Against Injustice
Record numbers of young children are being removed from their parents and adopted unjustly because of government targets and the “secrecy” of the family courts, according to the BBC.
Campaigners told BBC Radio 4′s Face The Facts programme that there are now more than 100 cases of possible miscarriages of justice where children have been forcibly adopted.
The programme claims the number of parents in England who have lost their children despite insufficient evidence they were causing them harm has now hit record levels. It says 1,300 babies under a month old are now being adopted every year, compared with 500 when the present Government came into power.
Social workers also told the programme that they were being put under pressure to meet the Government adoption targets set in 2000. And parents are not being given a proper chance to challenge adoptions because of the time limit on appeals and the secrecy within the family courts, according to lawyers.
Family law solicitor Sarah Harman said: “Secrecy breeds bad practice, it breeds suspicion. It feeds parents’ sense of injustice when they have their children removed that they’re not able to talk about it. They’re not able to air their grievances. Children have been removed from their families unjustly. There’s no two ways about that.”
A social work manager with 25 years’ experience in child protection said parents had little chance of getting a hearing and overthrowing a decision made by the authorities. The manager told the BBC: “People will find that their children have been removed and freed for adoption without them having had a proper chance to defend themselves and their families and their children.”
MPs have also spoken out against the unfair adoption system and are currently campaigning for a public inquiry. John Hemming, Lib Dem MP for Birmingham Yardley, who is also chairman of the Justice for Families group, said: “We’re seeing perhaps three to four new cases being referred to us every day.”
The programme hears from one mother who claims she was actually giving birth when the authorities arrived to remove her baby, and a father who had his two sons unjustly adopted. He later received a written apology from the local authority but because his children had already been adopted, he will never get them back.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) denied there was a target relating to taking children from their birth parents in order to meet overall adoption targets.
A spokesman said Government policy had always been that children should live with their parents wherever possible and given extra support to stay together if necessary. He said there had been a national target to increase the number of “looked after children” adopted and place children for adoption more quickly.
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