Here are the underlying trends derived from official statistics, including adoptions, apparently 96% forced…
Click on the image to get the full 15-page report.
Here is the Table of Contents so that you can appreciate the comprehensiveness of the approach, based on 12 petitions including ours (1707/2013):
Summary account of meetings
Authorities and organisations involved in child protection
Diplomatic services of other EU Member States
I. About statistics and the underlying reasons for high numbers of adoption
The high level of non-consensual adoption cases and its increase
- cases involving non-national parents
II. About the intervention of the social services and charities
- victims of domestic violence
- young parents
- About kinship foster carer
- Parents in need of information and advice at an early stage
- Section 20 of the Children Act 1989
- the real understanding of parents
- separation of siblings
III. About the judicial proceedings
- secrecy of the proceedings
- the difficulties in accessing documents
- the timescale of the care proceedings
- 26 weeks
- proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act 1998
- The issue of Legal Aid
- quality of Legal Aid
- cases involving foreign families
- compliance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963)
- transfer of jurisdiction
- Article 15 of Brussels IIa
- the welfare checklist
- the child’s national, cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious background
Sir James Munby: “Nobody has ever succeeded in persuading either the Strasbourg Court of the EU Court of Justice that our domestic adoption law is not compliant with both the Convention and the Charter.”
Julie Haines: “If other European countries can make different plans for children, then so can the United Kingdom.”
Florence Bellone: “The artificial stability that these children will get from care and adoption will never compensate, especially in the long term, the destruction of their family by a legal time bomb.”
The 15 recommendations are published here.
And here are my comments so that you may benefit from my experience based on quite a few trips to Brussels.
- Page 1:
- the increase in the number of petitions from non-UK parents;
- the Council of Europe report is ALSO quoted, not only the ‘institutional whitewash’, as former MP called the report commissioned on ‘Adoptions without Parental Consent’;
- Page 2: in addition to our petition that covers the SYSTEMIC aspect, there are two groups of individual petitions:
- the loss of the use of their mother tongue,
- abusive placement of children without consent.
- Page 2: Florence Bellone who has been acting as a McKenzie Friend in some 200 cases was heard and thus the term ‘McKenzie Friend’ was introduced correctly;
- Page 3: The personal testimonies were ‘nicely’ representative on behalf of the parents as VICTIMS: Florence Bellone, Lucy Allan MP, former MP John Hemming, Julie Haines as ‘legal adviser’ of Justice for Families.
- Page 4: A pretty good ‘spread’ over the authorities and organisations involved in child ‘protection’ – but no MEP could suspect the underlying POLICY:
- Anthony Douglas, Head of CAFCASS
- Sheila Pankhania-Collins, Children’s Guardian
- Cathy Ashley and Bridget Lindley, Family Rights Group
- Steve Williams, Detective Superintendent in the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command;
- Inspector Jim Cook, Emergency Response Policing Team;
- Anthony McKeown, Detective Inspector in charge of the Camden & Islington Child Abuse and Investigation Team;
- Bridget Robb, CEO British Association of Social Workers;
- Susannah Daus, Islington Social Services.
- Page 5: VERY good that Diplomatic services of two EU Member States were included: two representatives each from Latvia and Bulgaria.
- Page 5: This is also pretty representative, but hardly biased ‘our way’: Legal authorities
- Sir James Munby
- Naomi Angell, Law Society
- Dorothy Simon, Law Society
- Martha Cover, Association of Lawyers for Children.
- Page 5: Political authorities
- Interesting that NONE of the members of the Education Committee were available – except for Lucy Allan MP who is ‘on our side’! That means these members are worth writing to:
- Neil Carmichael (Chair) Conservative
- Lucy Allan Conservative
- Ian Austin Labour
- Michelle Donelan Conservative
- Marion Fellows Scottish National Party
- Suella Fernandes Conservative
- Lucy Frazer Conservative
- Catherine McKinnell Labour
- Ian Mearns Labour
- Stephen Timms Labour
- William Wragg Conservative
- Page 5: I. About statistics and the underlying reasons for high numbers of adoption
- Sir James Munby: “complete collision on a very fundamental level:” too many too fast vs not enough, not fast enough…
- Page 6: VERY interesting that the trend towards adoption as ‘gold standard’ was emphasised by John Hemming and Julie Haines!
- not surprisingly, authorities always blame not enough time and / or money;
- adoption is seen as ‘social rise’ in British culture!?…
- cases involving non-national parents needs to be our next emphasis, it seems, especially as Sir James uses ‘poor statistics’ as an excuse!
- we are used to Anthony Douglas pushing and defending his agenda which innocent MEPs could hardly detect;
- Page 8: About kinship foster carers – the OBVIOUS solution never followed BECAUSE the agenda / policy is NOT the Best Interest of the Child!
- Parents in need of information and advice at an early stage.
- Page 9: Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 is apparently abused as a pretext for child snatching: when there is a crisis in the family home… But we know that ‘risk of future emotional harm’ is the most frequently used reason.
- Page 1: the ‘Brief overview of the process of removal‘ does NOT reflect the violence with which children are often removed WITHOUT any paper work, let alone valid reasons;
- Page 2: the online petition has 5,700 not 2,500 signatures by now.
- Page 5: ‘fresh onlookers’ cannot suspect the hypocrisy behind the words: the fact that Children’s Guardians do NOT represent the interest of the child, for example and that the Family Rights Group does NOT represent the interest of families either; why would groups such as Justice for Families and the Association of McKenzie Friends have become necessary otherwise?
- the high level of non-consensual adoptions and its increase – doesn’t give the REAL reasons that John Hemming isolated: it’s policy!
- Page 7: Regarding non-UK parents, Sir James obviously needs to be reminded of the report on Non-UK Kids in UK Care.
- Page 7: The intervention by Social Services
- covers domestic violence and young parents, kinship foster carers – but not quite as drastic as the conclusions we have come to from the far more cases than the Petitions Committee has heard of (13).
- Page 8: to talk about ‘court scrutiny’ starts from the assumption that ‘the system’ operates according to GOOD and WELL MEANING principles, but to realise the opposite, takes HUNDREDS of cases, not just 13 petitions.
- How many of the 1,000 parents a month [1 child every 20 minutes] do get EFFECTIVE advice from the Family Rights Group?
- Is there an automatic referral in place?
- How many MEPs see the difference between ‘custody’ cases where parents fight over a child and the State taking on ‘corporate parentability’?
- What does it take to change POLICY:
- to get a Labour Government in?
- to leave the EU?
- more and more social media exposure?
- more and more petitions to the UK Government via your MP?
- more and more petitions to the EU Parliament via the Petitions Committee?
- as a minimum, parents could write up their experiences on http://www.storyboard.com
- re-definitions and the matching re-0rganisation of democratic structures and democratic processes, methinks…
If you click on the image you also get the full 15-page report.
And these are the recommendations:
1. Relevant statistics should be collected in order to offer a better overview of the issues related not only to non-consensual adoptions and binational cases but also more generally to family law, enabling comparisons between the EU Member States;
2. National family courts should systematically implement the Vienna Convention of 1963 on Consular Relations and articles 15 and 55 of the Regulation EC n° 2201/2003 (Brussels II a) at the earliest stage of the child care proceedings and make sure that embassies or consular representations are informed in a timely manner of cases involving their nationals; specific detailed guidelines should be provided for a more efficient implementation of these provisions;
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