Baby Snatching State Targets Mothers With A Low IQ

26th July 2007

Image of a distressed woman sitting on childs bed with her head in her hand and holding a teddy bear in the other

The harrowing film of a young mother with an IQ of 63 cuddling her much-loved toddler daughter for the last time before handing her over for adoption was always going to be controversial.

As the cameras roll, the 18-year-old mother cries pitifully. Her bewildered child reaches out to hug her when the moment comes to say goodbye for ever. This raw, emotional footage was to be the centrepiece of a new BBC series called Family Wanted, spearheading a national campaign to increase the numbers of children adopted in this country.

In a bid to find them new homes, children removed from their real parents have been paraded publicly during the TV series. It is, say critics, akin to a human auction. Now, in a further twist, a High Court judge has given the programme makers of Family Wanted a knuckle rapping. He ruled that the film of the child being taken from the low-IQ mother - whom social workers deem not mentally capable of caring for her daughter - cannot be aired.

It would, said Mr Justice Eady, upset viewers and be a massive invasion of the mother's privacy. It would also, of course, have revealed with clarity on prime-time television that adoptions can be brutally painful affairs. The mother in this case fought to keep her child and denies allegations by social workers that her low intelligence would stop her being a responsible parent. She has lost the chance of telling her side of the story in public, which she dearly wished to do. For the truth is that adoption has become one of the most secretive - and seemingly one-sided - issues of our time. Behind closed doors, in every town, children are being taken from birth parents, often forcibly, and given to new mothers and fathers. During this investigation, I have learned that a staggering 75 children change hands each week, many of them toddlers like the little girl in the BBC film.

And since the court decisions are held in utmost secrecy - with the aim of protecting children's identities - almost no one is allowed to speak about the rulings, let alone challenge them. What is most disturbing is that parents have told me that child care professionals, from social workers to doctors, are routinely fabricating or distorting evidence to make a case to take their children away. The number of babies under one week old now being taken for adoption has soared three-fold in a decade to an annual total of 900. In 1995, 1,000 children under five were removed from their parents. By last year, it was nudging 2,500. But why have these figures shot up? And why would anyone fabricate evidence to boost them? To understand this, we have to examine the Government's policy on adoption. In 2000, Tony Blair set new targets to raise the number of children being adopted by 50 per cent to 5,400 every year. The tally has now reached almost 4,000 in England and Wales - four times higher than France, with a similar-sized population.

He promised millions of pounds to councils that managed to achieve the targets. Some have already received more than £2 million each in rewards for successful adoptions. This sweeping shake-up in social policy was designed for all the right reasons: to get older children in care homes into happy new families with parents. But the reforms didn't work. Encouraged by the promise of extra cash, councils began to earmark those children who were most easy to place in adoptive homes - babies and cute toddlers - while the older children remained in care. (The number of over-sevens adopted has plummeted by half in less than a decade.) Campaigners - including parents who have had their sons or daughters taken - say that social workers are tearing innocent families apart. Everywhere, I came across evidence to suggest that these claims are justified.

Taken from the Daily Mail 26th July 2007

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