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Family Justice Council debate on adoption


I think readers will be interested in this debate, which featured some very impressive speakers presenting both sides of the debate and also some extremely well put questions and discussions generated by the audience. I’m very proud to see so many of my regular commenters and readers involved in this.  These are big important issues and I’m glad that discussions and debates of this kind are taking place, and that people who have passion and stories to tell on both sides are having the chance to get involved in them.


Click to access 9-family-debate-transcript.pdf



[Edit  – have just realised that perhaps not all of you have the software to open a pdf – I’ll keep an eye out to see if there’s a link that doesn’t use pdf.  It is 37 pages long, so I can’t really cut and paste it here]


About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

53 responses

  1. Hear hear ! It was a good evening all round, very civilised. Louise Tickle was really quite excellent putting forward the humanist issues involved. Dr Claire Fenton-Glynn talked about consent, a subject close to my heart as it features in cases we are already getting to the Court of Appeal.

    There was a good mix of people too from all areas of the family law wider debate.

  2. A pity that most of the speakers were so enthusiastic about adoption generally that they never got round to the merits or otherwise of “adoption without parental consent” ;which was of course the subject of the motion.Also no vote was taken at the end so we will never know whether or not the motion would have been passed. Nevertheless it was worth going to because of the attendance of so many distinguished people;including of course Sir James Munby.

    • I think Narey was very clear about how low the incidence of non consensual adoption is.

      • Maggie Mellon who is the Deputy Chair of the British Association of Social Workers said to Louise Tickle who opened the debate)

        “The policy imperative towards more and quicker forced adoption means we may well look back at this period in horror as we do now to the forcible removal of thousands of children to Australia in the 1930s, forties and fifties without their parents’ knowledge and consent. That was done because it was felt it was the right thing but now we think how on earth could we possibly have done that?”

        Sir james Munby (President of the family courts) also said at the Family Justice Council debate “The only thing I am confident about is that adoption as we will understand it and practise it in 30 years’ time will bear very little relation to adoption as we practise it today. ”

        Yes I too believe that the forced adoptions of today will be the horror stories of tomorrow !

      • I think adoption will change too, practice does, and it should. But very few children in care are adopted. About 7.5% if that and half of those are consensual.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        So 3.75 are forcibly adopted, you don’t think that’s 3.75 too many?

      • I don’t think that is too many children who deserve to grow up and thrive in a family without experiencing trauma and abuse. I am not completely pro adoption, I do think its use will alter, and it is a debate worth happening. I do not however think consent or lack of should stand in the way of those children thriving.

  3. Just reading now and wondering why Louise thinks nobody should trust a system where in one case social workers had been found to lie. It is terrible but I don’t distrust the police because of miscarriages of justice for example?

    • What horrified Louise was as she explaine herself, that the proven liars were actually promoted ! This tells social workers that if they lie to achieve forced adoptions in court they will get rewarded for their duplicity ! Why should anyone trust a system that openly rewards proven perjurers for their false testimony?

      • I knew I should have added this bit, as far as I can tell, they were promoted before it became apparent they had lied in so far as this could then be known to others than those involved. It wasn’t a reward for lying or achieving adoption.

        Also interesting that this case highlights the way perjury is dealt with in court, this is far rarer than is suggested by those who think social workers always lie.

  4. THE bottom line is that police should deal with injuries to children (or adults) in suspicious circumstances and social workers should get back to the jobs they were founded for ie :supporting families instead of breaking up marriages or partnerships and then snatching children for adoption……….

    • As I said on the other post, the police do investigate injuries, along with the medics all under ABE. Social workers are the lead professionals in the child protection process, but all that means is coordinating any plans, and collating evidence often from the police and medics. You could call us glorified admin at times!

      You are wrong in thinking that families are not supported by social workers; not all cases in child protection are in care proceedings, most are those families who have children living at home, and where we are working to effect change. We are constantly assessing risk but also befriending, assisting and providing services.

      Removal is never the aim. Your ignorance of the way child protection works is scary, you alarm families by misinforming them, and it isn’t really surprising that they become scared of social workers is it. Methinks it is irresponsible.

      • Actually, removal is usually the aim, more often than keeping families together with support. As is highlighted in the Cox case, not guilty parents who have lost their child to aadoption, poor child.
        So can Karissa have her baby back now please?

      • That case is indeed a miscarriage, they happen, the Birmingham Six, Sally Clarke, fortunately they are rare. No less painful obviously. Social workers are largely dependent on the police and medical evidence in any case, removal is only the aim when the risks are too great to leave a child with family. Social work is mainly about two things, being an agent of change (supporting families to effect change where necessary to protect children) and risk assessment. The Cox case is awful for everyone but don’t extrapolate.

      • The UK is the ONLY place in the world where large numbers of parents flee the country every year to avoid having their babies and young children taken from them by the State for forced adoption. Social workers,behaving like police , take babies at birth from mothers ,not for anything they have done but for something someone with a “Crystal Ball” thinks they might do in the future !
        Yes most of the mothers who phone me complain because social workers acting as though they were police but with no authority to do so, snatch babies at birth for “risk of emotional abuse” .Everyone can have a different opinion about such so called risks but both before and after these babies are snatched family court judges will nearly always rubberstamp the snatching and later order forced adoption of these little mites by strangers ! That way social workers can blame judges for the cruelty these actions entail.
        Hard to believe this happens in UK? Well every single day, dozens of babies are taken at birth following a prediction of future risk by social workers and their “experts” .In fact not dozens but hundreds of babies are taken every year from their law abiding mothers for mere future risk, and handed over for expensive fostercare or forced adoption in the UK!

        .If a single mum (for example) is told by a neighbour “a social worker called on you while you were out” the reaction would not be “what a pity I missed her” but would almost certainly be “My God they are after my children !”All this is why social workers are the most hated profession in the country !

      • Isabel Field-national child advocate

        #lol Many social workers have been caught acting corruptly.

      • I suggest you all carry on talking to yourselves, saying the same things, and scaring parents about social work involvement. Things do of course go wrong, as I keep saying, but your grasp of reality is worrying. Your narrative fits whatever you want to believe. Just keep going. Social workers will keep doing what we actually do which is to support and assist parents who are having a difficult time. Hopefully leading to them parenting their children safely.

  5. Isabel Field-national child advocate

    Social workers lie to JUDGES and Police, to acquire children, from which they make profits for themselves and their mates. Lawyers collude as it makes them money.Some JUDICIARY figure it out and turn a blind eye, because it makes them money, or because they are weak.
    Loads of current cases throughout UK, USA,Australia,etc….

  6. Pingback: Family Justice Council debate on adoption | Sheva's Cross of Change Blog

  7. i like this paragraph we have been through what you would call a same situation we had a social worker who lied we also had a childrens guardian who backed the social worker up who only visited the child twice in 14 months who dozed off in court at the last hurdle twice we had a play therapist [child]who maskeraded himshelf to be a pshycologist [the judge remarked he went above and beyond his station he also gave us a damning report where our barrister said i have never seen anything so bad about anybody in my 20 yrs has a barrister [guess what she used to be a social worker]guess what so did the play therapist it beggars belief that in the 21 centuary that these social workers [not all] take the law into there own hands [why] because they have the law behind them and who gives them that power [youve guessed it [the goverment]and so stop talking and act

    • If they actually lied you should have cited perjury via your barrister. Otherwise the professionals and you didn’t agree.

      Guardian’s don’t visit more often than that.

      Lots of people change professions into related fields, this does not mean there will be collusion.

      Social workers cannot take the law into their own hands. The court is a check and balance, sometimes social workers and others are criticised by judges as you have pointed out.

      When you say act, what exactly would you like to change? Was your child safe.

  8. Actually John Hemming showed from the latest government statistics that 31% of children in care between the ages 1–5 are forced adopted .Obviously nobody would want to adopt a 15 year old unless they were a relative !
    If a baby is taken at birth for risk of emotional abuse there is a very very strong chance that it will be adopted by strangers by the time it is aged one even if the only grounds are domestic violence from a Partner who has long departed or who is now safe in jail !
    The court usually rubberstamps whatever the social workers request (judicial stats show that only one in 400 applications for a care order are refused.)
    The change needed is to take children only if the police are satisfied that a crime has been committed and the offenders arrested and charged.Social workers should either resign or restrict their activities to family support (as they were formed to do ) and in no circumstance remove children.
    It is time that social workers stopped usurping the job of the police as it makes them ogres and makes them hated .They could resolve today to revert to family support (which was of course the way they began) and shun so called child protection (actually family wrecking) with no legislation necessary.

    • Social work has always involved child protection and various guidance and legislation has ensured that social workers are the lead professionals in childcare cases, having what is a holistic overview.

      The reasons only 400 applications have been refused is that the others were robust, not because the others were rubber stamped.

      I think if I lived in the cosy world of lawyers being in thrall to the LA, judges rubber stamping and medics complying, well the role of the social worker would be a doddle. It isn’t and they don’t.

      Cases where a partner is separated from someone who presents a risk to a child are not taken to adoption, but sometimes the perpetrator is in prison for years and their partner makes it clear that they will prioritise that person over their child. That doesn’t need a crystal ball. Jail is not safe either, those people often have associates who are as violent and happy to be.

      I go back to a conviction not being enough to protect children and by now I am sure you know why I think that.

      By the way I also know I am not hated but I’d be happy for the government to rethink the way it uses social workers. In the meantime, we are stuck with putting children, not their parents first.

    • I have to agree with you to certain extent, The mother of my children hurt my eldest son, the police were involved to start with, And were surprised that the children were still in care for 10 months before they had been returned to the family unit ,. as far as they were concerned they should have been returned once there investigation was finished.
      it was dragged out,
      What upset me was all the mis information that was said at the meetings, It was only after I played the system and prove the lies that the children were returned.
      I guess I was lucky.

      • The police may indeed have a view about when children return home post investigation, unfortunately that really isn’t their area of expertise. 10 months is usually a child protection plan so hopefully what you mean by playing the system is working in partnership with social workers. If not I can assure you that they could see through the “playing” and either just decided to ignore them (because they were focussing on your children) or were a bit worried that you were “playing” them and wondered what implications that had for the way you behaved at home (ditto being focussed on the children). Misinformation is easily corrected in meetings, errors are not necessarily deliberate, sometimes they what we are told but the story gets changed. That’s fine, as long as we get there in the end. 10 months isn’t an investigation, it is ongoing risk assessment, but that was’t dragging anything out. It was making sure sufficient change was effected and your children were safe at home. You may think they were safe, but you also know your wife hurt your child, there was some work to be done to make sure everyone would be ok. We don’t really care whether you think you pulled the wool over our eyes, played the system, whatever. We only care that families are ok.

    • The origins of social work are in the nineteenth century and although the Victorian Philanthropists were aiming to help and support, their moral crusade may not be what you want in SW now, so I’d warn caution about reverting to the origins.

  9. You cannot support families properly Helen if the parents are continually scared that you are going to take their children.The two roles are simply incompatible.Please leave child cruelty and abuse to the police while you support and help parents so that they are not scared of social workers as a breed. At least they know that left to make their own decisions the police would never remove children for risks that may never happen ……….

    • I agree there is sometimes a tension between the roles, on balance my view is the the social worker who knows the family best should be both support and safeguarding, it is safer for the child and easier for families to work in partnership.I would dispute that parents are continually scared I am going to take their children, it just isn’t my experience. If social workers work transparently with parents there are no surprises.

      You can’t actually ask me to leave cruelty and abuse to the police, even if you say please. The law directs me otherwise. I also think children would be much less safe if only criminals were not able to care for their children, very few cases are prosecuted in comparison to the number of children who experience trauma and abuse.

      I keep mentioning the legislative and political context of social work. 21st century rights reflect those of the child over the parent in most cases. That may change, if the political context changes and laws change, but that isn’t now.

  10. What you are saying is that you want to persecute law abiding citizens ,usurp the functions of the police,take their babies and children ,and then persuade a complacent judge to send them for fostercare or adoption by complete strangers!
    That is outrageous !

    • Yes absolutely not what I am saying and since you don’t seem competent to understand the legal framework which protects children and are complicit in supporting a vulnerable family to flee, I hope you are dealt with appropriately by the courts yourself. What social works actually do is so far removed from your alarmist vision that I not longer have any time for you.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        I just want to draw your attention to the fact that all of the parents Ian has helped to flee, do see a social worker immediately on arrival of their destination abroad.
        So far all of them have been deemed perfectly capable of caring for their children and removal has not taken place (except Ireland who seem to have lost their backbone)
        Therefore we can only conclude that Ian is doing more good than harm by helping to keep families together, I would be agreeing with you in an instant if each family was a disaster and a danger, leading to removal of children regardless as to where they are, that would statistically show he’s getting it wrong, as it stands, statistically, the UK is getting it wrong

      • Dear me Helen seems like I struck a nerve here ! I have broken no laws yet she hopes the courts will “deal with me” and we all know what that means !Social workers as she knows quite well are loathed and feared throughout the land for their legal kidnapping of babies and young children from loving family homes.How anyone can defend the brutal way they snatch babies at birth from mothers for “risk of emotional abuse” beats me.I must admit we do however have enthusiasts for this brutal practice as contributors to this blog.The mystery is how any of them can sleep well at night!

      • No nerves have been damaged in the process, rest assured, I am sure the social workers here are just sometimes exasperation with how jaundiced your view of social work is and the dissonance between this and the reality.

        You deal with a tiny proportion of families, and I would always accept that some people have a poor experience, but I would be much more impressed if you ran advocacy service to support vulnerable families who are easily frightened with your alarmist diatribe. Bad practice is bad practice, poor communication skills all of it, not good for people who are vulnerable. I have picked up cases where the previous social worker hasn’t been great and I have worked honestly with families to ensure that doesn’t affect the way we work and apologised to them when that made things difficult for them. The opposite view of social workers is that yes, families are worried when we turn up, but we do all we can to ameliorate that, and most say thank you when we leave. Children are there, we have given them some help, often lots of practical stuff as well as any issues that need resolving.

        I am not an enthusiast of removing children. As such it would be great if I could discuss practice here rationally but that seems a bit of a challenge too far for those who think it is all some industrial scale conspiracy. I’ve not seen support of that anywhere on this blog tbh. Everyone removing a baby at birth feels dreadful, I would accept that sometimes it isn’t done well, but even if done with sensitivity it is bound to feel brutal to the parent.

        As for laws, so far in this case you have wasted police time (because it will be the police who spent time chasing a family now subject to an EPO) and perverting the course of justice because there is a court order in place and there was whilst they were in the process of flight. They are laws as far as I am aware?

        I won’t sleep well tonight but that is because I know some children are being harmed by their parents (emotionally) so that is hard isn’t it. I can’t really tell you about all the things I see in them that trouble me (I don’t talk cases obviously) but no physical bruise doesn’t mean no bruising.

        BTW anyone being patronising here only needs to say “dear me Helen” it is a bit of a giveaway!

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  12. All the rant above adds up to is that you snatch babies for a livingand that you do it because of mythical risks that you and your Crystal ball imagine might happen in the future.You do not care about the distress you cause to mothers (especially) when they see their babies and young children advertised in the press for adoption complete with photos,first names and character descriptions so that potential parents can select one or two just like pedigree dogs !
    The sooner social workers are abolished and child cruelty ,neglect and abuse, are left to the police and the criminal courts the sooner these flagrant injustices will all be remedied .
    Some day in the not too distant future, a British Prime Minister will apologise for the horrors of forced adoption as practiced today.
    Don’t take my word for it .Read what two surprising celebrities have to say :-

    Maggie Mellon who is the Deputy Chair of the British Association of Social Workers said:
    The policy imperative towards more and quicker forced adoption means we may well look back at this period in horror as we do now to the forcible removal of thousands of children to Australia in the 1930s, forties and fifties without their parents’ knowledge and consent. That was done because it was felt it was the right thing but now we think how on earth could we possibly have done that?”

    Sir james Munby (President of the family courts) also said at the Family Justice Council debate “The only thing I am confident about is that adoption as we will understand it and practise it in 30 years’ time will bear very little relation to adoption as we practise it today. ”

    • & if you have absorbed anything I have said you will know my feelings about adoption but listening isn’t exactly your style is it? Mundy said that adoption would change in the same way that all childcare practice changes, I agree with that too. There does need to be a debate about adoption but blaming the social workers is absolute nonsense. The way that childcare practice has evolved in the UK is in response to child deaths. Politicians have framed law and created statutory guidance because they think it protects children. You can change things, and there are things to change, but your view of social workers is utterly misguided as is your view of how to keep children safe. I’ll come back to you when a child dies because you have helped a family evade a social worker.

      • Then I will come back to you next time children die in care or are groomed by paedophiles thanks to negligence by social workers and paid carers.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        To be fair Helen, many children die BECAUSE of social workers bad practise and some as a result of the corrupt way they behave.
        It is widely accepted (except by ss) that care and adoption has a far more severe impact (especially mentally) on children as they grow into adulthood than if they were left with dysfunction and even squalor.

        I know statistically (again) not one child has died that Ian has helped, yet I know of a fair few children and parents who have died due to the misery or decisions of social workers.

        You’re stating that the legal framework comes from child deaths, you are right, both Victoria Climbie and Peter Connelly’s deaths caused the reaction of ‘at risk’ however, we go in circles, because both deaths were the fault of bad social work practise, social services caused the problem and are now causing an even bigger one.

      • “To be fair Helen, many children die BECAUSE of social workers bad practise and some as a result of the corrupt way they behave.”

        I have always said that anyone should be accountable bad or poor practice, serious case reviews have the benefit of hindsight, anyone could do that.

        “It is widely accepted (except by ss) that care and adoption has a far more severe impact (especially mentally) on children as they grow into adulthood than if they were left with dysfunction and even squalor.”

        This is predicated on the trauma and abuse children experience and the reason they come into care. Of course the state doesn’t make a great parent but neither does an abusive one. If you wish to comment on children abused in care I shall repeat what I have said before. Anyone who abuses a child should be held accountable.

        “I know statistically (again) not one child has died that Ian has helped, yet I know of a fair few children and parents who have died due to the misery or decisions of social workers.”

        This I am pleased about but since there is no risk assessment, it is luck. Gamble with children if you wish.

        “You’re stating that the legal framework comes from child deaths, you are right, both Victoria Climbie and Peter Connelly’s deaths caused the reaction of ‘at risk’ however, we go in circles, because both deaths were the fault of bad social work practise, social services caused the problem and are now causing an even bigger one.”

        Most issues identified are multi agency. Most people blame the social workers, like you they find us an easy target. I am better informed than that.

      • Victoria Climbé and Peter Connelly (baby P) both died because they were poor adoption material;Adopters do not want children who have been battered and bruised over an extended period so social workers who must have known exactly was going on (baby p was in hospital 57 times ) callously left them to die in misery. Social workers prefer to snatch children said to be “at risk” as these children are usually 100% healthy and present well to potential adopters

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Ok, so it was not an issue of multi agency failures that led to the death of Jonas Stadden, it was pure neglect, the facts being that he was placed with a foster carer who went unchecked on her ability to care for a disabled child (which she was not disability trained or experienced)

        The social worker did not enforce that the child go to the doctor or A&E despite the parents begging them to do so during contact.

        Jones had suffered this problem before in the care of his parents, who dealt with it apporpriately and he survived each time, pneumonia is very easily treated and he always responded well, within approx 4 hours being allowed home.

        The above facts, they are facts, I know this family well, are … if they had run, Jonas would still be alive, he did not die of ‘Down Syndrome’ as reported, he died of total neglect at the hands of the overseeing sw.

        To rub salt into the wounds, the social worker was so concerned with comforting the child’s foster carer, that the parents weren’t told for days that their child had died !!

        Tracey Connelly helped a trainee social worker by making a video with her, where she stated she had a new boyfriend in the house, this was never reported, although I’d have to agree this was a multi agency failure, it was the social worker nevres Campbell who begged for him to be removed, she was threatened with her own child being removed after she became a whistleblower, no more powerful threat than to use someone’s child ay?

        The SW at the time of death saw Peter, covered in chocolate (big giveaway of bruise hiding) he was strapped into a buggy, she did not insist in seeing him interact, walking etc, had she had done her job, she would have noticed he could not walk, his fingernails and the tips of his fingers had been cut off and that he was covered from head to toe in blunt force trauma bruising, it was the social worker who failed him, several times, yes the doctor failed him too, however, the sw was responsible for making sure that child got the medical help he needed, but she didn’t. Why?

      • Forced Adoption The reason children in care are so vulnerable to those predators is that they were abused and traumatised by the adults who are supposed to be trustworthy, love and care for them. It takes a lot to get to the point where their self esteem and sense of identity isn’t severely damaged by that. Some never get there. They spend their lives looking for that love from people who turn out to be as abusive as those who gave birth to them. It is a pattern we work hard to break.

      • Social work is multi agency, there were failures by other agencies in both the Baby P and Victoria Climbe cases. Unlike you I am not in the blame game even though it is the social worker generally scapegoated by those agencies and everyone else.

      • ashamedtobebritish

        Sorry but that is a cop out, there was only one person to blame, the social worker, who didn’t do the job they were meant to, i.e. safeguard the child.

        You seem to find it very difficult to accept that, despite the judges tearing into corrupt and lying social workers, and numerous television documentaries and newspaper reports also stating the facts, there are social workers who simply refuse to do their job and are willing to lie their way out of their corrupt practise.

        Jonathan Coupeland was accused of sexual abuse on his child, with the sw later admitting she’d made it all up, does it get any worse? What a vile vile disgusting thing to do to another human being.

        I have given you a fair few examples now and you have refuted each and every one, you come across as one of the sw’s who are accepting of malpractise as if it’s what a normal human being would do without ‘blame’

      • Unless there was CCTV in peoples homes and they were under surveillance 24/7 it isn’t actually possible to safeguard all children all the time. The responsiblity ultimately lies with the person who harmed them.

        I have said all over this blog that poor practice should be identified so I’m really not avoiding any responsibility but I do know the Baby P case better than you, I am just not in the blame game. I agree, false allegations are malicious and should be dealt with and it is awful whoever does it. Malpractice in any sphere should be addressed.

        I have also said that anyone who lies should be held to account. I absolutely don’t agree that practice is corrupt, that is a slander on a profession that saves many more lives than are lost. All those children who are adopted are from parents they can’t go back to because they would have hurt them badly.

        I haven’t actually refuted anything, I have just added something to the discussion. Refuting implies allegations that you are putting to me to prove or disprove, I can’t do that for the whole of social work! That would be ridiculous, not that it stops anyone here!

      • ashamedtobebritish

        “All those children who are adopted are from parents they can’t go back to because they would have hurt them badly”

        Is that a fact or a crystal ball prediction, two ppl I have already mentioned who were found t have been set up ate Karissa Cox and Jonathan Coupeland, although Jonathan’s child was not adopted but Karissa’s was, please explain to me how you can know these children would have been hurt badly on return, we know Jonathan’s child has been returned and NOT hurt badly, who says Karissa’s baby would be hurt? Is there any evidence to suggest this?
        The only evidence I see is that her baby would NOT be hurt badly due to NAI.

        I have come across many mothers who have lost children to adoption, yet gone on to keep siblings, they haven’t been badly hurt, they are perfectly happy, thriving children, some are abroad and some are still in the UK, so that doesn’t add up at all

      • You will notice I am being broad and you are being specific. That is because I won’t comment on cases where I don’t have enough knowledge. I do however (all over this blog in my comments) acknowledge that mistakes and poor practice should be acknowledged, as should a SW making a false allegation. That is terrible. What I won’t do is extrapolate ad hominem into all SW practice. SW saves lives. Some parents make changes in all kinds of ways that mean they can keep siblings of children who have been adopted, that’s good?

      • I never abuse you or anyone else for that matter but I do strongly criticise corrupt institutions and harmful professions;
        The family courts should be scrapped to be replaced by criminal courts and social workers should be disbanded to be replaced by trained police officers.

    • P.S. Not sure why anything I have said qualifies as a rant? Don’t worry about answering that I expect it is easier to dismiss me than to engage.

      • Social workers do NOT try to break the pattern of abuse of children in care. These children are forbidden to report abuse in care to their parents at contact and if they complain to social workers that they want to escape their tormentors they are told they “made a career choice !” Disgusting lot those social workers aren’t they?

      • I don’t like what you do but I don’t abuse you.

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