Stop Forced Adoption Of Rape Victim’s Children

Women Against Rape is picketing the Royal Courts of Justice 9am 27 February. The hearing is before Lady Justice Black 10am Court 70.

Women Against Rape is picketing the Court in support of a mother whose two children, aged two and three, have been unjustly taken for adoption. This is the permission to appeal of DF, whose name cannot be published due to a gagging order imposed after she spoke to a local paper about her rape. This order prevents her from publicly campaigning to keep her family together. The local authority claimed that adoptive parents could be put off by knowing the father is a convicted rapist.

DF’s parents are also party to the proceedings: they applied to foster their grandchildren, but despite being trained and accredited by social services, the court ruled in favour of adoption by strangers.

The children’s father was convicted of raping DF and is now in prison. Social services took the children from DF after she reported the violence. Rather than recognise her courage and integrity in coming forward, co-operating with a police investigation and giving evidence at a traumatic rape trial, the family court decided that the children should be adopted.

DF was assessed by child protection in parallel proceedings, which we believe were biased against her as a traumatised survivor of rape and domestic violence. She was accused of failing to protect her children from witnessing some of the violence, as if the violence was her fault. Yet, she acted decisively to remove the source of the violence. Judgments were made about her past and future mental health based on a misdiagnosis 17 years ago of personality disorder (a vague label much used against women) and the court refused her a new mental health assessment. They claim that she cannot work with professionals, but evidence from professionals with whom she worked well, has been excluded.

DF and her children are not the first family to face forced adoption after reporting rape and domestic violence. Jean Robinson, President of the Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services, said in its 2013 evidence to NICE that, “. . . women examined at a time when they have all the manifestations of battered woman syndrome, are even more likely to be wrongly diagnosed as having personality disorders, and labelled as permanently unfit mothers.” [1] The charity Family Rights Group has [2] documented that domestic violence – not parental mental illness, drugs or alcohol – is now the main reason children are taken from their mothers.

Lisa Longstaff of Women Against Rape said, “Adoption means permanent separation. We are appalled that the court decided this and hope the Appeal Court will overturn it. Taking children from their natural family when they are not in danger is a horrific injustice against the children, their mother and grandparents. Many mothers suffering violence are now justifiably afraid to contact the police or their doctor for fear of losing their kids. Child protection should begin with support and resources for the child’s main carer, usually the mother who loves her children and is desperate to protect them. Instead, money is being poured into professional agencies which benefit from adoption targets and cash bonuses – a clear conflict of interest and a recipe for state child abuse.” [3]

Families, MPs, lawyers, anti-rape groups and maternity support services, have exposed widespread injustice in family courts. Decisions are particularly biased against women and children following domestic violence.

DF’s appeal follows the dramatic ruling last week in another High Court appeal in which Mrs Justice Pauffley ordered that a mother be re-united with her baby. Justice Pauffley ruled the baby had been wrongly taken by social workers following a court case she described as ‘profoundly alarming’. She said that ‘the practices I have described are not confined to this area but are widespread across the country’, and that judges and social workers have been conspiring to remove children from their parents, in a ‘clandestine arrangement’ in which they rubber-stamped the demands of social workers without fair hearing for the mother. And she found that an expert witness psychologist had been employed to condemn the mother without even having met her. [4]

DF is represented by Grainne Mellon of Garden Court Chambers.

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Background on adoption targets and bonuses:

“Under New Labour policy, Tony Blair changed targets in 2000 to raise the number of children being adopted by 50 per cent to 5,400 a year. . . .

Figures recently released by the Department for Local Government and Community Cohesion show that two councils – Essex and Kent – were offered more than £2million “bonuses” over three years to encourage additional adoptions.

This sweeping shake-up was designed for all the right reasons: to get difficult-to-place older children in care homes allocated to new parents.

But the reforms didn’t work. Encouraged by the promise of extra cash, social workers began to earmark babies and cute toddlers who were most easy to place in adoptive homes, leaving the more difficult-to-place older children in care.

As a result, the number of over-sevens adopted has plummeted by half.” [5]

The National Association of Social Workers criticised the agenda of the 2011 appointment of Martin Narey (ex head of Barnado’s) as government advisor on adoption. The Times published a report at the time in which Narey said social workers spend too much time trying to keep dysfunctional families together and called for the rate of adoptions to increase.

A Panorama documentary broadcast last month reported that almost 1,900 children were taken for adoption in 2012, a 20% rise on the previous year. [6]

Notes

1 Evidence to NICE 2013, Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services

2 Family Rights Group

3 The benefit cap is supporting state child abuse, The Guardian

4 Judge slams cut and paste decisions in Family Court, Daily Mail

5: How social services get paid bonuses to snatch children

 6 Panorama


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